Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dale Watson Nights

Lola and I first come across Dale Watson on a wonderful summer evening in the ancient sandstone basement of the old Fess Hotel. This is July of 1999. Since then we attend his shows at Tex Tubbs on Atwood Avenue and Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon in Austin, Texas. That and every show he has played at the Club Tavern in Middleton since the turn of the century. So last night when we are asked if we’ve seen Dale before, we honestly answer yes, about a dozen times.

I never saw Johnny Cash in person so I’m not wasting opportunities to observe the closest practitioner of that musical lineage. This is a common thought by many in the Club Tavern audience last evening. Now this is not to imply that he is a gifted mimic. Quite the contrary. Dale Watson is as authentically skilled as any of the historical predecessors.

YouTube pulls up 175 videos but most of them are fan postings from the various venues of the traveling road show. If you aren’t sleeping on the tour bus, it probably means some corporate sponsor is picking up the hotel bills. Every soul, it is said, has a price. Then, of course, there are the gigs like Oneida, where you don’t have to play marathon shows and the casino puts the crew up in style for three or four days.

After some thought, I decide not to post any videos because even the few with professional production fall short of capturing the total complexity of the live stage performances. Besides, Dale is producing a diverse and maturing body of work that is impossible to appropriately summarize with one, two or even three examples. If anyone is really interested, Strictly Discs on Monroe Street will be more than happy to get you started.