Over the course of Dale Watson’s four-decade career, the Alabama-born/Austin, Texas-based singer/songwriter has released close to 30 studio and live albums, only two of which — 2013’s El Rancho Azul and last year’s Call Me Insane — made any inroads on the Billboard charts. And yet Watson may be one of the most respected and diversely talented figures in Country music and its plethora of subgenres; seven years ago he began self-identifying as an Ameripolitan artist, a blend of roots-driven Americana and the old ’60s urban Countrypolitan designation, itself a mixture of Pop technique and classic Country authenticity. As a result, Ameripolitan has become a recognized style, even warranting an annual awards ceremony.
Watson started writing songs at age 12 and made his first recordings and played in Texas honky tonks and nightclubs at 14 as an emancipated minor. After moves to L.A. (where he performed in the iconic Palomino Club’s house band) and Nashville, Tenn. (where he wrote songs for Gary Morris’ publishing company), Watson decamped to Austin, assembled his backing band, The Lonestars, scored a Hightone Records deal and dropped his first album, 1995’s Cheatin’ Heart Attack.
Ever since, Watson has maintained his outcast stance concerning mainstream Country, thumbing his nose at the establishment (his best songs about the longtime state of contemporary Country music are “Nashville Rash” and “Country My Ass”), recording for over a dozen different labels and fiercely abiding by his own rules. Watson has done albums devoted to trucking songs, a pair of full-length tributes to his late fiancée Terri Lynn Herbert and a stretch of flawless Country releases that rivals the catalogs of Outlaw heroes like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.
Watson’s last album, 2015’s Call Me Insane, was his most successful to date, placing high on smaller Country and Americana charts and even coming within reach of the Top 50 on Billboard’s Country chart. No less than Hank Williams III and the Red Headed Stranger himself have sung Watson’s praises, and a parade of impressed journalists and smitten fans have followed suit.