LIVE: Dale Watson & His Lone Stars @ The Hangar, 1/28/15

(photo by Kirsten Ferguson)
(photo by Kirsten Ferguson)

Review and photographs by Fred Rudofsky
Additional photographs by Kirsten Ferguson

On a frigid night in Troy, Ameripolitan music fans packed The Hangar to the rafters for the return of Dale Watson & His Lone Stars, one of the hardest working, most talented bands on the scene.

Rosie Flores, who has a strong fan contingent in upstate New York, was supposed to open the night but was sidelined by the winter blitz down in New Jersey. Signs of any disappointment for her absence were quickly forgotten. Half the floor was reserved for seating, half for standing and dancing, and Watson hit the stage running with his coin-plated guitar spitting fire and dueling playfully against Don Pawlak’s virtuosic steel guitar on a break-neck “Broke Down in Birmingham.” A giant, eight-foot-tall inflatable can of Lone Star beer, perched on stage behind upright bassist/backing vocalist Chris Crepps and drummer Mike Bernal, prompted the first of many public service announcements by Watson: “Lone Star, the only beer that whitens your teeth…”

Averaging close to 200 gigs a year and having over a dozen albums to his credit, Watson and his Lone Stars aimed to please as well as pay tribute to some heroes. “I Lie When I Drink” and “I Drink to Remember” from El Rancho Azul were played heartily by request. There was even a shout-out to North Greenbush’s Alexis Diner (“great food!”). Watson testified to the greatness of the late Ray Price, and then brought down the house with a new song, “I’d Rather Be an Old Fart Than a New Country Turd,” which took an absolutely justified stab at the ignorance and ingratitude of Blake Shelton and his ilk. He hollered “Howdy!” to a fan’s son via Skype on her cell phone prior to another new tune, “I’m Jonesin’ for Jones,” a loving tribute to the late George Jones. Little Richard’s “Lucille” got a Waylon Jennings makeover, and it was very good indeed, as were covers of Jones, Lefty Frizzell, Bob Wills, Merle Haggard and Doug Sahm.

Several songs from The Truckin’ Sessions Trilogy and El Rancho Azul formed the core of the set. “Truck Stop in La Grange” rumbled with wit and grit, and even referenced a bit of ZZ Top; “Where Do You Want It?” chronicled the strange tale of a drunk idiot who threatened Billy Joe Shaver and got shot in return (for the record, Shaver was acquitted); “Suicide Sam” grafted the sounds of Bakersfield to the baritone alacrity of Ernest Tubb. A crafty surf beat by Bernal introduced Watson on “Exit 109”, which got howls of laughter with just its opening line: “Texas has a whorehouse in it….” For truth in advertising, “Texas Boogie” lived up to its title, a fine showcase for the whole band, which garnered a standing ovation.

The encores were superlative. “South of Round Rock,” a fine two-stepper that referenced the chicken-shit bingo events, and “Honkiest Tonkiest Beer Joint,” his homage to the iconic Ginny’s Little Longhorn that featured in last year’s “Austin City Limits” broadcast, kept the couples dancing. “Whiskey or God” from the 2006 album of the same name sounded like a number that Johnny Cash would have begged to record given its uncanny look at a man caught between temptation and devotion. A request for some Doug Sahm prompted Watson to proclaim, “I miss Doug so much!” before a heart-rending, steel-soaked “I Don’t Want to Go Home,” the 1970 b-side to the Sir Douglas Quintet’s immortal “Nuevo Laredo” single. Rocking, eyes-clenched guitar and deft lyrics brought a humorous yet serious theme to “Don’t Let Your Cowboys Grow up to Be Babies”, and the spirit of Sun Records came moon-shining through in “Down, Down, Down, Down, Down.”

Long after the show, Watson stayed by his impressive merchandise table for autographs, photos and conversations with friends old and new. Look for an upcoming Dale Watson & His Lone Stars album, which will feature new self-penned classics such as “Call Me Insane” and “I’m Gonna Beg You for Your Love” produced by the legendary Lloyd Maines, sometime this year.

GO HERE for more information about the rich phenomenon of Ameripolitan music and the Ameripolitan Music Awards, go to .

More choice Lone Star beer advertising moments:
“the only beer served in heaven and in hell”
“Lone Star: it looks great, tastes great and even sounds great”
“the only beer that creates brain cells – Einstein drank it, and look what he did with those brain cells”

Other shout-outs from Watson:
Rev. Horton Heat
Carl Perkins
Ray Benson & Asleep at the Wheel
Big Sandy
Waylon Jennings

Greg Haymes’ review at The Times Union

Broke Down in Birmingham
I Lie When I Drink
I’d Rather Be an Old Fart Than a New Country Turd (The Blake Shelton Song)
I’m Jonesin’ for Jones
Lucille (Little Richard)
You’re Humbuggin’ Me (Lefty Frizzell)
I Drink to Remember
Truck Stop in La Grange
I’m Gettin’ Tired
Where Do You Want It
Call Me Insane
Suicide Sam
That’s What I Like About the South (Phil Harris)
Don’t Let the Screen Door Hit Ya
I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink (Merle Haggard)
My Baby Makes Me Gravy
Fox On the Run (Manfred Mann)
I’m Gonna Beg You for Love
Exit 109
Here in Frisco (Merle Haggard)
Texas Boogie
South of Round Rock, Texas
Honkiest Tonkiest Beer Joint
Whiskey or God
I Don’t Want to Go Home (Doug Sahm)
Don’t Let Your Cowboys Grow Up to Be Babies
Down Down Down Down Down

A Few Minutes With… Dale Watson

(photo by Fred Rudofsky)
(photo by Fred Rudofsky)
(photo by Kirsten Ferguson)
(photo by Kirsten Ferguson)
(photo by Fred Rudofsky)
(photo by Fred Rudofsky)
(photo by Kirsten Ferguson)
(photo by Kirsten Ferguson)
(photo by Fred Rudofsky)
(photo by Fred Rudofsky)

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