Tag Archives: Dale Watson

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar book signing at Wild About Music 12.13.2018

29 Dec

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As part of the opening night of the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar Dec. 13, 2018 I signed my books in front of the Wild About Music booth at the Palmer Events Center in Austin. Broken Spoke owner James White accompanied me and later sang a few songs on stage with country and western star Dale Watson.

My review of the 2017 Ameripolitan Awards posts to Elmore

22 Feb

Lance Lipinsky, nearly stole the show before accepting the Rockabilly Male Award at the fourth annual Ameripolitan Awards, held February 15th at Austin’s Paramount Theater. Lipinsky had costarred in the Tony Award-winning musical, Million Dollar Quartet, and at the Grand Ole Opry. His band, The Lovers, released their debut album, Roll, last summer.

Jerry Lee Lewis’ prerecorded message from Nesbit, Mississippi appeared overhead on screen as Silvia and Brett Neal accepted the Master Award on his behalf. The Neals and singer/songwriter Dale Watson cofounded the Ameripolitan Awards in 2014 to honor artists who represent four roots branches of country music: western swing, honky-tonk, rockabilly and outlaw styles. Between set changes, Watson and Asleep at the Wheel’s front man, Ray Benson, served as the night’s emcees, providing impromptu commercials for two of the show sponsors, Lone Star Beer and Tito’s Vodka. Presenters Rosie Flores and James Intveld also provided an outstanding duet performance. Other music awards went to Leona Williams, Jake Penrod, Gary P. Nunn and the Bunkhouse Band, Lara Hope, The Silver Shakers, Kristyn Harris, Pokey LaFarge, The Western Flyers, Darci Carlson, Hank3, the Dallas Moore Band, Chris Casello and James Riley.

American original singer/songwriter and musician Junior Brown received the Keeper of the Key Award. Brown’s unique song lyrics and hook phrases, such as “My Wife Thinks You’re Dead,” previously earned him a 1996 Country Music Association Award. Brown performed while playing his “guit-steel,” a double-necked invention that melds both guitar and steel guitar attributes. Lil’ Red’s Longhorn Saloon in Fort Worth received the Venue Award and the Festival Award went to Nashville Boogie. Absent from the night’s proceedings due to the flu was presenter James White, proprietor of the Broken Spoke. The house band included: Chris Crepps, bass; Mike Bernal, drums; Don Pawlak, pedal steel guitar; Jason Roberts, fiddle; Redd Volkaert, guitar; Joey Colarusso, saxophone; Rick White, trumpet; Ken Mills, trombone; and Danny Levin, piano. For more information about the awards and a full list of winners, head to the Ameripolitan Music Awards’ website at: http://www.ameripolitan.com/2017-winners.html

Please also see my article as it appears with my photos on Elmore magazine’s website at: http://www.elmoremagazine.com/2017/02/reviews/shows/2017-ameripolitan-music-awards

My review of Dale Watson’s new CD posts to Elmore

6 Dec

Dale Watson – Elmore MagazineHonky-tonk singer, songwriter, guitarist and Lone Star beer aficionado Dale Watson provides a stout and tasty remix of 12 country music classics with his newest CD, Under the Influence. Watson covers his favorite artists’ songs that span more than 50 years – from Bob Wills’ 1939, “That’s What I Like About the South,” to Merle Haggard’s last top 40 hit of 1989, “If You Want to be My Woman.” Watson intoxicates listeners with Mel Tillis’ (Wine) Pretty Red Wine and Ronnie Milsap’s 1974 hit, “Pure Love.” The silver-haired crooner with an Elvis pompadour charms with dizzy abandon on Conway Twitty’s 1960 hit, “Lonely Blue Boy.” With earnest, he performs Lefty Frizzell’s 1958, “You’re Humbuggin’ Me,” and Little Richard’s “Lucille,” last recorded by Waylon Jennings in 1977.

The Lone Stars – Don Pawlak on pedal steel, Mike Bernal on drums and percussion and Chris Crepps on upright bass and background vocals – join him on the album, along with Earl Poole Ball on piano and T. Jarod Bonta on piano. Watson rose to international fame with his 2013 appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman and breakout hit single, “I Lie When I Drink.” The founder of Ameripolitan music tours 300 days per year, and often plays Austin’s Broken Spoke or the Big T Roadhouse near San Antonio.

Also please see my review posted on Elmore magazine’s website at:

http://www.elmoremagazine.com/2016/12/reviews/albums/dale-watson-3

My Broken Spoke story appears in Austin Monthly this month

16 Nov

Honky-Tonk Haven: 50 years of the iconic Broke Spoke 

By Donna Marie Miller

When James White opened the Broken Spoke in 1964, it represented the last stop for civilization 1 mile south of what then served as Austin city limits. Fifty years later the dance hall, which Entertainment Weekly voted “The best country dance hall in the nation,” still stands on South Lamar Boulevard and endures as part of a legacy of a bygone time for the city that has boomed around it.

Broken Spoke proprietor James White sat in on stage with Weldon Henson on day one of the Broken Spoke's 50th anniversary party Nov. 4, 2014.

Broken Spoke proprietor James White sat in on stage with Weldon Henson on day one of the Broken Spoke’s 50th anniversary party Nov. 4, 2014.

James White at 25-years-old began construction on the Spoke Sept. 25, 1964—the same day he received his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army. “I built it to look like the ‘40s and the ‘50s,” he says. “My parents took me to honky-tonks like this, where I always had good times. That’s why I went into this business.”

James leased land from Jay Lynn Johnson Jr., the owner of a construction business, who also helped James work on the original 32-foot wide by 60-foot long building. Meanwhile, he thought about what to call his new venture. “I started thinking about the things that tie into westerns and country. My mind was always on a wagon wheel,” he says. “Then, like a light bulb that went off in my head, I remembered a Jimmy Stewart movie called Broken Arrow. I thought, I’ll just name it the Broken Spoke.” He and his wife, Annetta, officially opened the Broken Spoke a few months later on Nov. 10, 1964.

The place became popular from the day it opened. The then one-room bar and restaurant overflowed every night of the week. “I used to bartend 16 to 17 hours a day out here,” says White. “I learned to pop two beers in each hand, and I could pop beer as fast as I could sell it.”

But folks didn’t just come for the drinks; the Spoke became known as a place to hear great music and dance the night away. White paid his first band, D.G. Burrow and the Western Melodies, $32 to play. Dancers used to push back tables to shuffle, Texas Two Step, polka and Cotton-Eyed Joe. “Girls in their best dresses danced with the guys right out the front door into the dirt parking lot and then danced right back in,” says White.

In 1965, the Whites added an extension, a 90-foot dance hall with a 65-foot stage. Legendary fiddler Bob Wills performed there in 1966, 1967 and 1968 — each time filling the Spoke to capacity with 661 people. Wills wasn’t the only legend to play the Spoke. Over the years, Ernest Tubb, Ray Price, Buck Owens, Kitty Wells, Roy Acuff, Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton, George Strait, Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker have all graced its stage.

Hardship has not been a stranger to the Whites. Their roof leaked for 25 years until it was replaced in 1989. “Every time we had a good rain, we’d have to put out various containers to catch the water where it leaked,” says James. He began having heart trouble in 2000; Annetta survived breast cancer in 2005. Then on Oct. 2, 2005 a driver for the Geezinslaws Brothers band tour bus drove it through the back wall of the Broken Spoke; it took four days to remove it. Johnson, their landlord, died in 2001 and his children sold the land to Riverside Resources in 2010. Riverside in turn sold it in 2012 to Transwestern developers who began a two-year construction project surrounding the Broken Spoke that hurt its business. The Whites have endured, for the most part unscathed.

These days, folks still head to the Spoke for good music, good food and plenty of dancing. Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel, Dale Watson, Gary P. Nunn, Bruce Robison, Marsha Ball and Alvin Crow are just a few of the musicians who still perform regularly at the honky-tonk.

“It’s kind of like {Austin City Limits},” says Watson, who first sat on the stage in 1992. “It’s a place you aspire to play if you grew up in Texas and you want to play real dance halls in Austin—it’s the only one left.”

White, who just turned 75, still wears his standard uniform of Wrangler jeans, Swarovski crystal–studded Western shirts, a Gene Autry-era neckerchief, a Resistol Platinum silver belly hat and Lucchese ostrich skin boots. He greets visitors on weekends, just as he has for the past 50 years. The Whites remain in charge of all of the Broken Spoke operations, but their two daughters, Terri and Ginny, and son-in-law, Mike Peacock, help out. Terri teaches both private and group dance lessons five nights a week, while Ginny acts as the manager and her husband, Mike, tends bar and sometimes handles cover charges.

The Spoke’s iconic standing in the city has grown even more in the past few years, as two four-story, multi-use properties known as the 704 have been built around it. Now, when driving down South Lamar Boulevard, residents can literally see the juxtaposition of “new Austin” and “old Austin,” in the shadow that the buildings cast over the Spoke.

“I would have rather that everything stayed the same, but as it is I wish that I had a little more breathing room, a little more elbow room and I wish I had more parking, but I will weather the storm. We’ll teach the tenants of The 704 how to do the Texas Two Step,” he said. “We’ve already got in a lot of the people who live in The 704. They love the Broken Spoke and they come over here quite a bit already. We’ve got over 500 people to draw from, so I’m thinkin’ we’ll get a few more country music lovers and they’ll love the chicken fried steak, dancin’ the Texas Two Step and havin’ a good time.”

Still, despite the changing landscape of Austin, White says the spirit of the Broken Spoke remains the same. “We’re a place for good food, cold beer and whiskey and good lookin’ girls to dance with and that’s the way we want to keep it,” he says. “No hangin’ fern baskets, no Pierre water and no Grey Poupon. You’re gettin’ the real mustard out here, the real deal.”

Please also see Austin Monthly’s posting at: http://www.austinmonthly.com/AM/November-2014/Honky-Tonk-Haven/

The Broken Spoke celebrated its 50th anniversary with a series of special performances at the dance hall Nov. 4-8, 2014.

Please see my photo slideshow below. Thank you!

 

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Watson lies when he drinks, but not about country music

10 Nov

DaleWatsonaloneArchived story updated with video

Singer and songwriter Dale Watson admits that he lies when he drinks — and he drinks a lot of Lone Star beer, a magical elixir that he says promotes good health and a long happy life.

“It’s the best beer in the world,” he says. “It whitens your teeth, increases your brain cells, eats calories. If you drink one day every day of your life, you’ll never die – that’s a money back guarantee, though you must collect in person.”

He calls Lone Star beer “liquid Viagra; it’s good for your skin, it increases your eyesight, and it makes you prettier. Lone Star has all kinds of benefits.”

Though Watson has been performing at venues throughout Austin for more than 25 years, he recently became “an overnight sensation” with his hit single, “I Lie When I Drink,” off his El Rancho Azul album.  The lyrics to his song: “I lie when I drink and I drink a lot” drew the attention of David Letterman who invited Watson to appear June 24 on the Late Night TV show.

Since January, Watson’s signature deep baritone voice sings the catchy tune for Nyle Maxwell’s television commercials: “Maxwell’s got the trucks man, Maxwell’s got the trucks. Any Ram truck you’d ever want, Maxwell’s got the trucks…”

“I love those commercials man,” Watson says. “They help pay the bills” and for upkeep on his long luxury touring bus as well.

Watson also has become something of “a lightening rod” spokesman for recent music controversy across the Internet.  The old-timers in the music business could have spit teeth when 2012 Country Music Awards’ entertainer of the year Blake Shelton called country music “grandpa’s music” while taping an episode of Backstory in Nashville.

Shelton’s words chewed on classic country performers across the state, but it in Austin he really rubbed Watson and others the wrong way. Watson and the late Ray Price before his death in December had spoken out publically about Shelton’s misperceptions.

Over the past six months, Watson drew a following of loyal fans who supported a new genre of music that he together with Price had named “Ameripolitan music.”

Watson ended up spearheading Austin’s own inaugural “Ameripolitan Music Awards”  Feb. 19 – a 100 percent fan-funded event with 400 guests at the Wyndham Garden Hotel to honor the roots of country, western swing, rockabilly and honky-tonk music.  Honorees included Johnny Bush who received the “Founder of the Sound” award. Bush also accepted and a posthumous “master award” given to Price.

Other local performers honored included: Jesse Dayton, James Hand, Ray Benson, Rosie Flores, Dawn Sears, Wayne “the train” Hancock, Whitey Morgan, the Derailers and the Haybales band.

“Some don’t like the roots of country music, so we just took that and named it something different,” Watson said.

The popularity of Ameripolitan music began in Texas with Bob Wills, Ernest Tubb, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and the likes of Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, Web Pearce and Faron Young, Ray Price and George Jones, and with female performers like Rose Maddox, Jean Shepard and Jean Shepard Patsy Cline, and later Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. Buck Owens, and Merle Haggard, and other honky-tonk heroes like Gary Stewart, continued to produce hits well into the 1970s and ‘80s.

Watson continues to cover the great classic hits of his predecessors in live performances and has recorded his own original music on 21 albums and on Austin City Limits television show dozens of times. His latest November performance aired on KLRU-TV Feb. 8, ironically on the same night that he and his band, the LoneStars, played at the Broken Spoke. Watson shared the ACL episode with Grammy winner Kacey Musgraves. The show re-aired Feb. 13 on the same channel.

“I’m hoping some folks that watch Kacey, will discover me,” Watson says. “She has a totally different type of music. She has a new – ‘girl-bashing-guys’ sound and I’m an old standard country singer.”

He and his band have performed at the Grand Ole Opry 19 times. He plays at the Broken Spoke 3201 S. Lamar once a month and lots of Monday nights at the Continental Club 1315 S. Congress Ave.

Never one to shy away from an enterprise, Watson owns two bars: Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon, featuring “Chicken Sh*t Bingo,” every Sunday from 4 until 8 p.m. and Big T Roadhouse in Saint Hedwig just outside San Antonio. He manages the bars when he’s not touring or playing venues throughout Central Texas on weekends.

Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon’s previous owner, Ginny Kalmbach, retired amidst money troubles before Watson bought and refurbished it in November.

“It was going to turn into a used car lot,” Watson says. “Luckily the owner of the property approached me. He says ‘You’re the only one I trust to do this right and keep Ginny’s Little Longhorn the Little Longhorn. We had known each other for 20 years.”

Regardless of wherever he and his LoneStars perform, Watson pretty much sings the same song set – including his original tunes, as well as the classic cover songs of Bob Wills, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Ray Price – a lot of Price, — and Johnny Cash.

Watson’s career has spanned the whole gamut of country and western music from the 1960s to the present, with all of its dips, dives and flows. His quirkiness for flamboyant satin and sequins costumes, a fondness for personal tattoos, and his shocking head full of white hair styled in ‘50s rockabilly pompadour fashion, makes him a standout among his middle-aged peers.

“When I grew up, on the radio there used to be Merle Haggard, George Jones, Ray Price and Gary Stewart – really good music; it was country music without all the other players in there,” Watson says. “In the 1970s country music all changed once they started lettin’ in the Kenny Rogers and the pop bands from LA. It changed drastically. You had these little bands from Texas, like Rascal Flats. Nowadays we’re dealing with the most pop stuff I’ve ever heard in my life, like Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney.”

Texas’ disco years briefly followed the 1980 dramatic western romance movie, Urban Cowboy, starring John Travolta and Deborah Winger. Most club owners hired deejays to spin records and for a time some local clubs quit hiring bands to play, but the Broken Spoke didn’t.

He first performed at the Broken Spoke in 1989, with members of The Wagoneers, before Monte Warden, Brent Wilson and Craig Allen Pettigrew broke up that band.

“It felt good to be playing in such a historical place,” Watson says. It’s (the Broken Spoke) kind of like Austin City Limits; it’s a place you aspire to play if you grew up in Texas and you want to play real dance halls in Austin – it’s the only one left.”

Not long after establishing a name in town, Watson released his first single “One Chair at a Time,” in 1990 on the Curb Records label and he followed by producing a video.

Watson started sitting in on stage with Chris Wall before finally creating The LoneStars in 1992. About that time, he landed a regular Wednesday night gig at the Broken Spoke.

“I’ve worked hard — over 33 years playing,” Watson says.

His career began in his hometown of Pasadena, Texas. Watson began performing in clubs at 14 years old, along with two of his older brothers, Jim Watson, who played guitar, and Donny Watson who at different times played either guitar or bass. The Watson brothers called their band Classic Country, named after the popular PBS television show, The Classic Country Hour.

Watson’s musical passion has always been classic country music, but he says some of his early performances wandered far from his roots. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, in order to find steady work, he played whatever his audiences demanded — the radio hits of the late ‘70s and ‘80s in country music.

“Then music started getting polluted,” he says. “I remember playing some stuff that I didn’t really want to play.”

During the disco era, Watson continued to perform cover songs by George Jones, Gary Stewart and Ray Price. Stewart died in 2003 and Price passed away last December.

Watson says that fans come out to hear him specifically, but the Broken Spoke’s loyal following of dancers will show up regardless of whoever performs on any given night.

Lots of celebrities have shared the stage with Watson over the years at the Broken Spoke: every one from Johnny Knoxville to Amy LaVere, Johnny Rodriguez and Johnny Bush used to sit in regularly too, but not so much recently, Watson says.

As a youngster, Watson says he never intended to become a musician, singer, or songwriter. As a boy he dreamed of joining the military or becoming a doctor, but childhood poverty and an eye injury instead decided his fate.

“It was a blow to me because I really wanted to be a pilot. My folks couldn’t afford college and I was interested in aviation, but I knew my eye wouldn’t let me do that,” Watson says. “So my next interest was to go into medicine. I was going to go as a corps man in the Navy; the military would have allowed me to go to college, but that didn’t work out.”

Watson supported himself by performing gigs in bars every chance he had, week nights and weekends.

“Man, I got lucky. I count my blessings all the time,” Watson says. “My kids are going into acting. I’ve done a lot of acting too – those (Maxwell) commercials play every hour, so much that people are getting sick of them, but I like those commercials.”

His two daughters, Raquel Cain Watson and Dalynn Grace Watson, both work as actresses, even though Watson wishes they wouldn’t, he says.  The music business may be tough, but life for an actor can be even tougher.

“I moved to Austin, then I got job offer at a publishing company in Nashville. I worked there about 10 months and then I said ‘screw this.’ Then I got an offer to be in some movies with River Phoenix, who was going to direct them. Just as I was moving out to LA, he died,” Watson says. “Then I moved straight back to Austin.”

Watson signed with Hightone Records in 1994 and produced his first album, Cheating Heart, in 1995. He recorded two records in Nashville in 2002 and 2008, but since then all of his other albums have been recorded locally at Willie Nelson’s Pedernales studio or Ray Benson’s Austin studio.

Currently, he spends most Tuesdays and Wednesdays working on a new album that will become Volume 3 of the trilogy series, The Trucking Sessions.

Watson’s steel player Don Pollock, has performed with him for the past 11 years.

Watson says in his 50s now, he’s working harder now than he did half a lifetime ago.

“It’s weird being 51 years old, having this stuff happen so late in life,” Watson says. “It wasn’t supposed to be this way, but that’s ok – I’d rather be busy than not. Once the Ameripolitan awards show is over I’ll be able to breathe again.”

Watson says he feels grateful to the Broken Spoke’s owners, James and Annetta White. The Broken Spoke received “the best venue” trophy at the Ameripolitan Awards for helping to support the roots of country, swing, rockabilly and honky-tonk music across the United States. The nearly 75-year-old James White, spontaneously broke into the song, “Sam’s Place,” when accepting the award on stage and nearly stole the show at the Ameripolitan Music Awards.

“Nobody gets where I am alone,” Watson says. “Having this place as a bi-monthly or monthly gig — whether I’m touring or whatnot — has helped through the years, for me to support my family.  It’s helped me to meet other people through here that have furthered my career. I’ve gotten movie deals, commercials, and record deals through playing here. James is modest about what he brings to the place, but playing at the Broken Spoke gives you some modest stature.”

Watson performs at:  The Broken Spoke, The Little Longhorn Saloon, The Continental Club,  Sengelmann Hall in Schulenburg, TX, The Saxon Pub, 11th Street Cowboy Bar in Bandera, Tomball Honky-Tonk Fest in Tomball, Big T Roadhouse in Saint Hedwig, and Luckenbach Dance Hall in Luckenbach.

Published in Austin Fusion magazine 2/26/14 http://austinfusionmagazine.com/2014/02/25/dale-watson-lies-when-he-drinks/

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