Before his set Monday at The Continental Club in Austin, Dale Watson worked his way through the crowd, pausing to chat with friends, old and new.
On stage, he’d stop playing for a moment if he saw someone posing for a shot in front of the stage and photobomb them.
There aren’t many musicians who are friendlier than Watson.
There aren’t many musicians who are funnier, either. Watson related an amusing story before almost every song. And every 10 minutes or so, he’d pause for a campy ’50s-style plug for Lonestar Beer. He even grabbed a hairpiece from the audience and donned it for a song. Hilarious.
And, yes, his music is funny, too. “Truckin’ Queen (I Got My Nightgown On),” “Phillip at the Station” and “I Lie When I Drink” poke fun at the absurdities of life and celebrate characters others often ridicule.
His playlist, peppered with covers of his heroes – Merle Haggard, Ray Price, Hank Williams… – is raucous, beautiful and poignant. It cuts through the Saccharine-filled country pop coming out of Nashville and reminds folks why classic country music is one of America’s great art forms.
I hadn’t seen Watson for almost 10 years when he performed a show at a Friends of Bob concert in Lafayette, Indiana. That show was one of the best ones I’d ever seen. Monday night’s set at The Continental Club was even better.
Watson brought one great guest after another up to the stage, including the great Gary Nichols, members of Cash’d Out, Celine Lee and our waitress, Stephanie.
And then there was “Call Me Insane.” Close your eyes and picture Elvis at his best. Try to hold back the tears. And don’t try to persuade the folks who hear Dale Watson live that he’s not the best real country singer left standing.