As the words for this week’s blog post began to percolate in my mind over the last few weeks, Luke Bryan decided to pop off at the mouth and lambast the outlaw country icons of country music’s golden age – guys like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard – for their rough and rowdy ways.
The backlash was swift and appropriate, and Bryan’s apology, which has since been accepted by members of the Jennings family, was quick in the coming.
In his apology, Luke Bryan spoke about writing music about the life he knows. His life is a far sight different from those of Johnny Cash and Johnny Paycheck or Kris Kristofferson and Billy Joe Shaver, and I am not so sure those are things he sings about in his bubble gum country are things he really knows or things his record label wants us to believe he knows. But I’m not a man of never ending dirt roads and riverside parties with scantily clad belles mythologized by Bryan and the likes of Jason Aldean, and Florida Georgia Line, so you’ll have to excuse me while I take my country with an extra helping of hard knocks and coked up carousin’.
Hold the big trucks and backwards ball caps, please and thanks.
When I need a healthy dose of real country music, I turn to Dale Watson, the tattooed Texan troubadour with the 1950’s pompadour. Watson’s music rushes right from the wellspring of the country greats, dripping with heartache and pedal steel and best delivered behind chicken wire in some dusty roadhouse honky tonk.
Watson – a Birmingham, Alabama, native who now calls Austin home – has been making music for three decades. He’s been a member of the house band at the legendary Palomino Club in Hollywood, spent time writing tunes in Nashville, and has toured the country many times over with his band, the Lone Stars. He has seen joy and heartache, suffered loss and weathered substance abuse, fallen apart and put himself back together, surviving all of those things that make life beautiful and terrible and provide the backbone of the best country music.
I recently chatted with Dale Watson about his great hair, the aforementioned Luke Bryan, and his brand new record, Call Me Insane.
BRO – You have fantastic hair. Dare I ask what your secret is?
DW – No secret, really. Hair dryer and hair spray and . . . voila!
BRO – What does it mean to be Ameripolitan?
DW – The definition is original roots music with a prominent roots influence. So, it means you are keeping the roots alive in the progression of your music.
BRO – We are featuring “Call Me Insane” on Trail Mix this month. What’s the story behind the song?
DW – Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So, I applied that to a situation I was in at the time with a young lady who reminded me that I’m not so good at relationships and to try to be is insane. I ended up with “Call Me Insane.”
BRO – Some of your favorite artists out there making good country music?
DW – Amber Digby, Wayne Hancock, Sarah Gayle Meech, Whitey Morgan, James Hand, Big Sandy, Deke Dickerson, James Intveld, The Cactus Blossoms, Western Swing Authority, Jason Roberts . . . I could go on and on.
BRO – If you could have five minutes alone with Luke Bryan, what might you tell him about country music?
DW – By definition, HE is today’s country music, so I wouldn’t tell him anything he doesn’t know about his country music. They’ve managed to steal the name. But if he wanted to know where the roots of the country music that I knew went, then he could look over here at Ameripolitan. But that’s all he could do, because him, Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line, Rascal Flatts . . . none of them are welcome in our genre.
Our fans of real country music out in Texas can get their fill of Dale Watson over the next couple weeks. Dale Watson & His Lone Stars will be in Horseshoe Bay on July 31st for the Beer By The Bay Music Festival, in Silsbee at Honky Tonk Texas on August 1st, and in Austin at the Continental Club on August 3rd. For more dates, make sure to check out his tour schedule.
And, lastly, if you are interested in some of the great artists Dale mentioned in the interview above, stay tuned to the Trail Mix Twitter feede. I’ll be sharing some great cuts from those artists over the next couple days. You can find Trail Mix on Twitter right here.
Photo by Sarah Wilson.