Dale Watson
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Dale Watson

Austin, Texas, United States | INDIE

Austin, Texas, United States | INDIE
Band Americana Country




"Quote Sheet"


“Watson credibly resurrects the raw, invigorating sound rooted primarily in Cash's Tennessee Two recordings”
-LA Times

“Hardcore. Old school. Unrelenting. Thrilling in its throwback and encouraging in his DIY feistiness, Dale Watson keeps on truckin’. With Sun Sessions, he takes Memphis for all its worth, offering up a vital songscape in return”
-Holly Gleason/Atlasjams.com

“If you every liked a single Johnny Cash song, you’re gonna love The Sun Sessions from Dale Watson”
-Taproot Radio

“Perfect distillation of the Sun Studio sound, you’re not imitatin’ no one, you’re re-imaginin.”
-MoJo Nixon/Sirius XM Outlaw Country

“Watson continues to be the cure for the contagion of Music City pop-country.”
-Twang Nation

“Best Honkytonk band alive”
-Pete Bleche/Freelancer

“authentic country music inspired by such icons as Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Ray Price and Charley Pride.”
-Spartanburg Herald-Journal

“an entertaining and engaging album full of simply-written, honest and tasteful, sweet and primitively-themed songs…it could explode into a cult classic”
- various

"Nashville Skyline"

Dale Watson & the Texas Two, The Sun Sessions: Another tradition-minded serious musician, the staunch Texas honky-tonker Dale Watson, visited the Sun Studio with his drummer and acoustic bass player and cut this album in one night. In his liner notes, he wrote that he penned six of the songs himself while piloting his Eagle bus from Texas to Memphis. The record beautifully evokes the rough but graceful feeling of the Sun sessions of Cash himself with his Tennessee Two, getting the same sort of fundamental sound from the little Sun studio. New music, new songs, same Sun sound. - cmt.com

"Music Review- Dale Watson - The Sun Sessions"

A restless soul. A fearless musical artist. That’s what Austin, Texas’s Dale Watson surely is. For what else under the blazing sun could begin to explain why this man—the guitar-slingin’ longtime-leader of what is perhaps the world’s finest honky-tonk country band (The Lonestars)--just released a new album, The Sun Sessions, that purposefully forsakes that entire sound.

After working tirelessly long and hard to establish an international fan base who thrills over The Lonestars’s time-warp authenticity—often anchored by dazzling pedal steel guitar-lines (courtesy of Seattle’s ace steeler, Don Pawlak) and heart-rendingly lonesome fiddle work—Watson now strips things way down. Here we have a loving salute to the raw aural aesthetic as pioneered back in the 1950s at Memphis’s hallowed Sun Studios and the original generation of artists—Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis—who helped establish it as both a place and a sound. For The Sun Sessions Watson has opted to perform a batch of 14 original songs cut in a minimalistic fashion and featuring only his vintage-styled guitar-plucking and (via The Texas Two) a thumping doghouse bass (Chris Crepps) and snappy southern-steeped snare (Mike Bernal).

Already renowned for his independent spirit, rich and manly vocals, hellacious picking skills, and evocative song-crafting, Watson once again steps up with a real winner. Twenty-one years and twenty albums into his career, this time Watson offers us a direct tribute to his musical forebears. The Sun Sessions includes, among others: road tunes (“Drive, Drive, Drive”); songs about interesting characters (“Big Daddy” and “Johnny At The Door”); love songs, by turns either funny (“My Baby Makes Me Gravy”), sweetly tender (“Her Love”), or utterly heartbreaking (“Ponder Why, I Ponder Why”); a celebratory declaration of his unfettered way-of-life (“Lord I’m Free”); and appropriately during this auspicious season of the Occupy Wall Street protests, the topical “The Hand of Jesus.” “You think you’ve got it made boy…sittin’ high on Wall Street lookin’ down at me," Watson sings. But then, that’s the magic of Dale Watson, the Sun Studios facility, and The Sun Sessions: they are at once timely and timeless. - Blogcritics.org

"Sun Studios sound also rises Dale Watson's stripped-down CD recalls style of famed Memphis"

Like many others, Dale Watson may have been born in Alabama, but he got to Austin as soon as he could. The fiercely independent and stubbornly countrified country artist has made his name by releasing only solidly country music, and his new "The Sun Sessions," recorded with the Texas Two, is no exception.

An obvious tribute to the early stripped-down sound of both Memphis' Sun Studios and Johnny Cash, "The Sun Sessions" features Watson's unique baritone dropping even further into J.C. territory for 14 original contemporary gems that Cash himself would have sounded absolutely at home on.

They're all outstanding, but "Down Down Down Down Down," "My Baby Makes Me Gravy," "Big Daddy" and "I Ponder Why I Ponder Why" are special. And "The Hand of Jesus" recalls Cash's complicated relationship with his faith to perfection.

Recorded at Sun Studios, "The Sun Sessions" is a tribute to a place and an era. The fact that it will remind most listeners of previously unreleased Johnny Cash songs is due more to Dale Watson's distinctive vocal, instrumental and songwriting gifts than it is to inevitable comparisons with John R. (one of Cash's many nicknames).

I doubt anything from "The Sun Sessions" will ever be heard on mainstream country radio, but that's OK. It'll likely shoot right to the top of the Americana charts within a couple weeks, where it will find millions of eager fans. Magnificent country album! - Timesrecordnews.com

"From The Cradle To The Grave"

Mainstream country artists pay a whole lot of lip-service to Johnny Cash and his legacy (witness "Johnny Cash," the pointless new single from Jason Aldean, or the dead-eyed audience response to the articulate tribute that Kris Kristofferson gave Cash in the middle of the vile, hateful spectacle that was the recent CMT Music Awards) but they rarely display even the most basic understanding of why he's such a legend both within and beyond the country genre. Far more reverent is acclaimed singer-songwriter Dale Watson, who recorded his latest album, From The Cradle To The Grave, in a small cabin in Hendersonville, Tennessee, once owned by Cash (and now owned by Watson's friend Johnny Knoxville). Writing and recording the album's 10 songs in that cabin, Watson says that it was not his intent to write "anything even remotely reminiscent to Johnny Cash," but the end result is an album that recalls both the tone and spirit of Cash's work in the best possible ways.

Given its title, it's no surprise that the album is steeped in death, but it's a credit to Watson's skill as a lyricist that his stories are alive with real wit and insight. Opener and first single "Justice For All," for instance, finds Watson singing from the perspective of a father seeking revenge on the man who murdered his child. It's a striking song that wrestles with complex questions about the nature of both vengeance and forgiveness, with a protagonist fully aware of the only possible outcome of his actions ("When on a journey of revenge/Be sure to dig two graves") but intent on carrying through on those actions anyway. Later, "Yellow Mama" gives voice to a man sentenced to be executed in Alabama's brightly-painted electric chair, and even a straightforward love-gone-bad song like "Time Without You" drops a line like, "I curse my healthy heart for keepin' the blood runnin' through my veins/I open my eyes each morning and I regret to greet the day."

What keeps these songs from being grim simply for the sake of being grim is the weight behind them—the philosophical questions behind "Justice For All," or the Watson's poignant observations on the title track, written in response to a cousin's suicide. From The Cradle To The Grave is an album of remarkable depth and complexity (that is, with the exception of the atonal "Hollywood Hillbilly," a shout-out to Johnny Knoxville), tackling issues of spiritual and intellectual resonance. And, with only one of its 10 songs exceeding three minutes, it's also an incredibly dense record (Watson puts more into a single line than most Music Row acts put into a whole career's worth of albums), making it just that much more forceful a gut-punch. It's in that regard that Watson is able to draw comparisons to Cash, even as he crafts a sound that's definitively his own.

- Jonathan Keefe http://www.slantmagazine.com/music/music_review.asp?ID=1111

"From The Cradle To The Grave"

From The Cradle To The Grave

After years of tilting at windmills, Dale Watson has rechristened his brand of country as “Ameripolitan” – but it’s not a musical change, just a doubling down on the directness, intimacy, fiddle, steel, guitar and shuffle beats of which he’s known. Watson’s short lived relocation to Baltimore and his hungry return to Austin provided a timely hiatus that revitalized his creativity amid the mountain air of a Tennessee cabin once owned by Johnny cash (where this album was recorded).

The elements of Cash are everywhere from the brass and click-clack rhythm of the opener to the lyrical fragments of “Folsom Prison” and “Hey Porter” in the closer’s fade. Watson follows the footsteps of Cash and Haggard in exploring human balances, from dichotomy of vengeance and forgiveness and regret transforming into antipathy, to the substance of the here and the hereafter.

Watson’s loss of his fiancée (essayed on 2001’s Every Song I Write Is For You) is reprised in “Time Without You,” and the pain of more ordinary heartbreak is rendered in aching baritone, fiddle and steel for the superb “It’s Not Over Now.” At turns philosophical, playful, fatalistic and scarred, Watson is as country as country can be, no matter what he’s calling his music now.

--Eli Messenger - No Depression

"Dale Watson - From The Cradle To The Grave"

By: Paul Muscat

Dale Watson, born in Alabama in 1962, is a tattooed, stubborn man interested solely in recording authentic country music. This never guaranteed many sales as far as chart success and records go, but it made him the darling of critics and alternative country music fans alike. He spent his teenage years near Houston, thus growing to think of Texas as his true home state. Dale began writing his own songs at the tender age of 12 and recorded his first output just two years later. He formed a backing band called The Lonestars in Texas and his debut album, Cheatin' Heart Attack (1995) was very well-received. 3 more albums followed in the next three years, the third of those almost being his last: in 2000, Watson's girlfriend was killed in a fatal car wreck; totally devastated, he tried to drown his sorrows in drink and drugs and nearly died of an overdose right after Christmas. To his credit, he checked himself into a mental institution, recovered and got back on track with 4 albums since 2000, including low-key efforts like a Christmas album and a live one in England. Dale was inducted into the Austin Music Hall Of Fame in 2005...which brings us up to his latest release: 2007's From The Cradle To The Grave. The first thing that struck me, even before the first note, was the album cover, which includes him posing beside a tombstone reading "Country Music R.I.P." on it. This piece of work, in my humble opinion, does not prove to be the case...it just demonstrates that, through Watson's style, the genre has been reincarnated. His voice sounds almost like a rough-around-the-edges latter-day Elvis, with his deep, baritone vocals more than hinting at Johnny Cash. The product on offer here came across to me as a very folksy, almost bluesy at times, take on some good old country music. The longest song on the whole album is a whopping 3:17 ("It's Not Over Now", replete with a refreshing fiddle sound and some great calypso-style guitar work - perfect background for a lazy summer afternoon), so each track is packed to the gills and bristling with urgency and intent, while at the same time lulling you into a sense of well-being and peace of mind. All the songs were written by Watson except "You Always Get What You Always Got" (a collaboration between him and "hangers-on" Chuck Meade, Gail Davies and her son Chris Scruggs). Don Raby's fiddle work is prominent throughout and it is a major contributing factor to the whole feel of the album. For my money, the best track is "Tomorrow Never Comes", closely followed by "Time Without You" and "Runaway Train". For all the comparisons, this is definitely not a mimic at work...more so a general nod in the direction of his idols.
- StaticMultimedia.com

"Dale Watson - Rodeo Bar"

MAY 11, 2007

Mr. Watson, from Austin, Tex., sings old-fashioned honky-tonk songs that look back to Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, with fiddle and pedal steel guitar to ease the music onto the dance floor. - The New York Times

"Dale Watson - From The Cradle to the Grave"

May 11, 2007

DALE WATSON HAS ALWAYS sounded as if he got his voice from where Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings got theirs before they shut the place down. So it's not surprising that Watson seems in his element on "From the Cradle to the Grave," an album recorded in a Tennessee mountain cabin once owned by Cash. Packed with newly composed songs by Watson, it's an unvarnished and unapologetically old-fashioned recording. In fact, when Watson's imposing baritone rises above boom-chicka-boom rhythms, you can almost hear that train a-rollin'.

Sure, the cabin is now owned by Johnny Knoxville of "Jackass" fame -- an irony worth savoring -- but when Watson pays Cash tribute, it's as if the former resident is still holding the deed. That's partly because Watson's resounding vocals on "Yellow Mama," "Justice for All," "Tomorrow Never Comes" and other standout tracks make most of what's heard on country radio these days seem awfully flimsy by comparison. But it's also because Watson writes songs that wouldn't sound out of place on one of Cash's best albums -- songs that will endure. While this hard-core country session wasn't intended to serve as a Watson primer, anyone looking for a terrific example of his work will find it here. Certainly there's no shortage of honky-tonk gravitas, with Watson addressing matters of life and death, truth and justice, loss and longing in a voice that rings -- make that, rumbles -- with conviction.

-- Mike Joyce

- The Washington Post

"ROCKABILLY Standing at the crossroads"

Dale Watson comes on like the Ghost of Rockin' Past. The unrepentant rockabilly singer stands at that crackling crossroads where country crooners jammed with old bluesmen and brassy R&B upstarts to create a sound that was just beginning to be called rock 'n' roll. He can chick-a-boom like Carl Perkins, sob like Ray Price, and rattle your teeth with a low-end moan we all thought Johnny Cash took with him when he left. - The Boston Globe


(Tractor) You never forget your first Dale Watson show. The man ambles onto the stage, sure of his place in the world, and proceeds to deliver a set of some of the strongest classic country you'll hear anywhere. He touches on all the traditional themes—hard luck, lost love, good music, longing for home, the open road—and you get the feeling he really means it. In between songs, he regales the audience with satiric tirades about the sorry state of contemporary country music. His newest album, From the Cradle to the Grave, is full of three-minute masterpieces of honest country goodness. And, oh yeah, he recorded the whole thing at Johnny Cash's old cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains. If you care about country music, go see this show.

CHRIS McCANN - The Stranger

"The Spin"

NOVEMBER 7,8, 2007

Saturday’s highlight was Dale Watson’s early set at Mercy Lounge. The Texas honky-tonker has it all—charm, guitar licks and a baritone voice to die for. Our favorite moment was his introduction to “Where Do You Want It?”—a song about the statement Billy Joe Shaver allegedly made before shooting some poor sap outside Papa Joe’s Texas Saloon in March. “He asked him where he wanted to get shot,” Watson said of his friend Shaver. “Now that’s a kind son of a gun! How many people are that nice?” After Watson’s real-deal set, the Texas Sapphires—the final act on Saturday’s Mercy lineup—came off like a bunch of hipster honky-tonk posers, which highlighted everything we love (authentically brilliant roots artists) and hate (punk rockers recasting themselves as down-home country folk) about the Americana scene.  - The Nashville Scene

"Concert Review: Dale Watson - Phoenix, Arizona, April 22, 2008"

APRIL 27, 2008

Written by Benjamin Cossell

Ask Dale Watson if he can spare any change and you just might get lucky. Such was the case for one fan, April 22 at the Rhythm Room in Phoenix when Watson and his Lone Stars took to the stage for a typical marathon performance.

Watson is the cowboy with no cowboy hat. His boots, plain black with no frills, have the high gloss of paten leather. You won’t find him wearing one of those god-awful, garish “cowboy” shirts so popular on the Nashville scene. Nope, Watson prefers a simple shirt with his signature black leather vest and thigh length top-coat. And then there is the guitar. A Fender Telecaster to be exact with some modifications. Coins are glued all around the body and on this night in Phoenix, one fell off and was offered to an unsuspecting audience member, “Hey buddy, spare a buck?”

Hailing from the great state of Texas, where everything is larger including the performances, Watson and the band started the show a bit on the early side, hitting their first song at the 8:05 pm mark. To the unknowing fan, one could assume that they were in for a typical hour or so set, leaving the bar ‘round 9:30 or so and safely in bed by ten. Wow, these country music fans are a bunch of fuddy-duddies right? Not so fast my man, Watson and his gang shut the place down, and for the most part, the audience hung in there with them.

Steeped in country music history as well as more than ten albums of his own, Watson maintains a library of songs at his immediate disposal ensuring each night is a bit different, each show a bit unique, and when the calls from the audience come, he and the band are ready.Throughout the evening, audience members called out their favorite Watson tune and the band obliged. At one point, Watson had to stop and put the requests in order as they flew at him fast and furious; the audience had caught a groove. That's not to say Watson didn't have some idea's of his own as he featured several tracks from his recent Cradle to the Grave and a couple times told the audience he would play their request after he did "this" song.

Often, there’s a disconnect between the artist’s recorded material and the live performance. Not so here. Watson’s golden baritone rumbled out of his microphone as clear as any recording and the band of Gene Kurtz on bass, Don Don Pawlak on pedal steel guitar, Don Raby on the fiddle and Herb Belofsky on drums backed their band leader with an intensity and tightness that only comes from many years together in the back of the tour van.

Watson and the band continue crossing the country through April then heading back to their home base of Texas for a month-long series of dates around the state. From there, a smattering of shows throughout the summer culminates in August with an appearance at Seattle’s fast rising arts and music festival, Bumbershot, Aug. 31.

Watson’s shows don’t have the raucous feel of a Hank III show nor do they have the punk rock attitude that runs through many of the roots country acts on the road today. What they do have is a man with a golden voice singing honest songs about a place we all know about in such a way, with an open dance floor, you can slide your arm around the small of your darlin’s back, pull ‘em in close and tight and do a slow dance across time. Do yourself a favor, head over to Watson’s website and find a date near you.

- BlogCritics Magazine

"Dale Watson, Rhythm Room, Phoenix, AZ– 4/22"

MAY 2008

by Randy Ray

“Bending my elbow or my knees I’m gonna drink until my conscience bleeds…”
- “Whiskey or God,” Dale Watson

They used to call this sort of sound outlaw music, and, I guess, they (you know, “THEY”) still do along the modern wagon trail. Dale Watson and his band are equal parts country, hillbilly audacity, old school rock ‘n’ brash ‘n’ balls, and a whole lotta punk attitude. I’m not much of a current country admirer, and neither are most jamband fans, but I am a huge fan of well-written songs, an inspired band, and a leader who knows how to gather the audience into his palms and take them on a bit of an unexpected adventure.

And Watson does that all the way down the line. His rapport with the Rhythm Room—a great joint to see a band with its intimacy, good acoustics and warm environment—audience was genuine and natural—almost as if he was playing at some weird inbred family reunion of no-nonsense, kick-ass, hillbilly country music rather than a formal concert event in which an artist delivers a standard repertoire and repartee to his fans.

Watson ripped his way through a mind-boggling 20 songs in the first 70 minutes alone, and he did this while chugging back numerous shots of audience-procured, purchased and promulgated booze (in between beers passed up to the stage for he and his band). What was most incredible was that a) I no longer drink, so it was all beautifully surreal to me and I just laughed, b) the audience would pass up a written request—another wonderful old school bit of fun—and Watson would briefly utter out the name of the song with an additional quip and, c) the band would SLAM into the song with expert precision and a mighty wallop that belied the fact that these boys HAD to be liquored up Big Time.

What is also quite evident is that Watson is not an acquired taste like other more subtle artistes. You either get Watson right away or you probably need to go back to the sonic drawing board to remember that good music comes from the heart and soul and is filled with honest emotion, good humor, and plenty of good ole rancorous venom. Country, like rock, the blues, and hip-hop (I won’t even mention its inept cracker brotha from the other side of the tracks—the insipid indie schlock), shares a common trait—wailing about the Man, a woman who done him wrong, traveling on the road, and stupid liquor songs, y’all.

The title track from 2006’s Whiskey or God opened the show, and then the band was off for a mighty run down the outlaw highway as Watson would schuck and jive with no one in particular, slug a shot, drink a beer, tease a band member, make a crack at some fan with a note, and shout out the next request from the audience for his band to play. I counted a heady dozen or so requests played on demand—most impressive as the band could turn on a dime even amongst what appeared to be a drunken, out-of-control party atmosphere. And, you know, it wasn’t…Watson knew what he was doing and he…well, he manipulated the situation in such a way that I was amazed at the amount of material… great material that he was able to deliver without the set de-evolving into the proverbial train wreck—and THAT bit of showmanship is an often very misunderstood skill.

Watson played several numbers from his newest release, From Cradle to the Grave, and also ran through an extensive sampling from his rich catalog—“Way Done Texas Way,” was a rollicking stomp, as was “Honky Tonkers Don’t Cry,” with its “Something Stupid” tease via Frank and Nancy Sinatra (props to Maija for calling that hook), “Sweet Jessie Brown,” “Honkiest Tonkiest Beer Joint in Town,” “Country My Ass,” which details in plain words what Watson thinks about the modern country scene (he HATES it, dig), “Chicken Shit Bingo,” about…well…about something I have no idea about and I don’t really care but damned if it isn’t one of my new favorite songs, and one of my OLD favorites—pure gold in the weird yet brilliant department—came our way with “Honky Tonk Wizard of Oz.” Watson said that the song is influenced by tequila, whiskey and beer and then led the audience through the witty chorus of “tequila and whiskey and beer—OH MY!” However, for a devotee of Commander Cody—specifically the work of guitar, Bill Kirchen—it is the band’s assault on “Exit 109,” which hammers home the goods. The song features elephantine drum work and a fairly slammin’ solo from Herb Belowsky, and the entire melodic structure dipped betwixt punk, outlaw country, old school rawk and a heady mashup of Commander Cody’s “Hot Rod Lincoln” and Dr. John’s version of the N’awlins chestnut, “Aiko Aiko.”

You see…it all comes together—country is a very integral ingredient in the diverse jam mix, but more importantly, being an outlaw, drawing outside the lines of the frame, requires a detailed knowledge about the art of fine songcraft that is also quite critical. Watson plays music that will stand the test of time, and he gets IT—whatever the heck IT is in his cosmically in-tune brain—with a flirtatious grin, sharp wit, and a very crack band, that lest we forget as we close the old barn doors, includes Watson on electric guitar, wonderfully-rich lead vocals and lyrical shenanigans, Belowsky behind the kit, the astounding (not hyperbole—at one moment, he played his lap steel guitar with his teeth, in tune, in fine form, and with a solo twist), Gene Kurtz on bass and vocals, and Don Raby on five-string fiddle. Get your hillbilly ass out the door. Get in the car. Get on the road. Get to the nearest bar/saloon/whorehouse and check these classy cats out.

- jambands.com


1995 - Cheatin Heart Attack
1996-Blessed Or Damned
1997 - I Hate These Songs
1999 -People I've Known, Places I've Been
2000-Christmas Time In Texas
2001-Preachin' To The Choir - Live In The Borderline
2001-Every Song I Write Is For You
2003-One More, Once More (Europe Only)
2005-Whiskey Or God
2006-Live at Newland ,the Netherlands (Europe Only)
2007- From The Cradle To The Grave
2009- The Truckin' Sessions Volume 2
2010- Carryin' On
2011- The Sun Sessions Red Hose Records




 Dale Watson is a country music maverick, a true outlaw carrying on where Waylon Jennings left off. A member of the Austin Music Hall of Fame, he stands alongside Waylon, Willie Nelson, and George Strait as one of the finest country singers and songwriters from the Lone Star State.

Although Dale has made his name as a Texas artist, he actually was born in Alabama. Moving to Houston as a teenager, his musical journey began right out of high school as he started playing clubs and local honky-tonks. In 1988, it led him to move to Los Angeles on the advice of rockabilly singer-guitarist Rosie Flores. He played in the house band at the legendary Palomino Club in Hollywood for a couple years and recorded a few singles before moving to Nashville to write songs for a publishing company run by Gary Morris (writer of such country/pop hits as “The Wind Beneath My Wings”). Commercial country did not fit the fiercely independent songwriter so Dale relocated to Austin, Texas where he got a record deal and wrote several songs poking fun at the industry side of Nashville, including “Nashville Rash” from his Hightone debut Cheatin’ Heart Attack and “A Real Country Song” from his 1996 follow-up Blessed or Damned.

After making three albums with Hightone, Dale released The Trucking Sessions on Koch Records in 1998. Including 14 original driving songs, the album received high praise and caused critics to compare him to chart-topping writer Red Simpson, who was responsible for some of the most iconic trucking tunes in country music.