Thursday, June 23, 2005

Country Boys

Ed Gorman & Friends:: "Now we come to Dale Watson. This guy is so down-and-dirty honky tonk that it's like drinking beer in a blue collar tavern in 1948. He probably ain't ugly but you sure won't find him in GQ any time soon. His first record deal they wanted him to lose his Elvis sideburns, cover up his considerable number of tattos (which I could live without), record music by other writers (his being too 'negative') and (no surprise) wear a hat. He wouldn't do any of these things. One CD and he was out the door.

He's an artist. He's got a growing fan base in Europe, especially in the UK, where he's considered a major voice in real country music. He's so far down the food chain that he drives himself on the road in a beat up Chevrolet station wagon. A lot of his gigs are in the white equivalents of the black bars where B.B. King started out. 'You were always ready to throw yourself to the floor the minute you heard gunshots.' Watson even wrote a song about it."

Check out Ed Gorman's post on country music. Like me, Ed's a fan of what I think of as REAL country music. I grew up listening to Hank Williams, Ferlin Husky, Webb Pierce, Hank Snow, Bob Wills, the Lightcrust Doughboys and many others. I still love that music, and listen to it a lot.

By the time I was a teenager, Top 40 radio was in full swing, and there was no discrimination. A hit was a hit. So I could listen to KLIF and hear Stonewall Jackson, Frankie Avalon, and Tommy Dorsey's orchestra all played by the same DJ. Those were the days.

But I digress. I have to thank Ed for alerting me to Dale Watson. I belong to an on-demand Internet music service called Rhapsody (not a plug, just a comment), so I immediately checked to see if any of Watson's CDs were available. Sure enough, several of them. So I created a long Dale Watson playlist. Geez, the guy's channeling Merle Haggard for sure on "Honky Tonkers Don't Cry." I thought for a second I was back in 1966 or so. And while I like Tom T. Hall's version of "Fox on the Run" a lot, Watson's version puts Hall's in the shade. Watson's the real thing.


Ivan G Shreve Jr said...

Sounds like I'll have to check out Watson's cover of "Fox," since that's one of my favorite Tom T. tunes.

Anonymous said...

On the blues side of the fence, my good buddy Joe Bonamassa's still struggling in much the same way. He just did a great tour in Europe, to sellout crowds, and yet it's still extraordinarily difficult to get crowds interested in the U.S. He's doing about 24 dates with B.B. King this fall, which is great, but I'm still trying to figure out how to help him get over the top of that no-radio-airply hill.

One thing: we've got his stuff in the door at Austin City Limits, which ought to be a natural for him. Fingers crossed ...

-- Rachel (Roxanne)

Unknown said...

Rhapsody has his albums listed, but they don't have any of them available for play. The music biz is as tough as the writing game. Maybe tougher.