seemed quite sure of this as I gave him options of Garth Brooks,
Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Shania Twain. Although, he didn’t
slam the ladies, he did state that Garth Brooks was “a
cheesy piece of shit”. If you haven’t met Dale
Watson, I highly recommend you find him immediately and ask
him to repeat this statement in his charming country drawl;
it is well worth your time. The first thing I learned about
Dale this week is that he’s always late. Two days, two
interviews, a motorcycle ride, a search for my ever disappearing
credit card, a gig at Ego’s and a million drinks later;
let’s just say I spent a bit of time waiting on his
ass, but it was worth it. I saved a ton of money and had a
hanging out with Dale. I thought he might be a contentious
prick, but he was actually super laid back and highly entertaining.
Oddly enough, we were mildly stalked by some of his fans,
but he handled it like a pro. I know this sounds cheesy, but
it’s true; he treats each fan as if they were his only
one. He receives four hundred e-mails each week from fans
via his web site and reads each and every one of them.
Alright, before we get to the good stuff, here’s a little
history for Dale Watson fans. He was born October 7, 1962
in Birmingham, Alabama. His family was originally from
Kentucky and North Carolina. I suppose the super-charming
accent is a result of this heritage. He came from a musical
family, and his father Don Watson was a marine turned
truck driver that moonlighted as a musician. His band released
the single “Poor Baby” in the late 1960’s
on Chapparral Records. Dale Watson received his first guitar
lessons from his brother Jim, and joined a band with his
brothers Jim and Donny. They played together for a year, but
Dale decided to venture out on his own and began writing his
own songs by age twelve.
His family relocated to Texas in his late teens, and he started
playing in honky-tonks in Houston shortly thereafter. He moved
to Los Angeles in 1988, where he met John Jorgenson of the
Desert Rose Band. Jorgenson helped Watson secure a record
deal with Curb records. He released the single “One
Tear at a Time” and “I can’t Listen to the
Radio” in 1990, and the single “You Pour It On
and I Pour It Down” in 1991. His record deal with Curb
collapsed shortly after these releases, and he was involved
in a serious car crash. He then relocated to Nashville after
being offered a publishing deal with Gary Morris.
This prompted him to move to Austin in 1994 where he enrolled
in community college for motorcycle repair when he was secured
a deal with High Tone Records, and released his debut album
Cheatin’ Heart Attack in 1995. Musicians, here’s
a little advice from Dale, High Tone records will make you
sell your soul and rob you blind. He ended up settling out
of court with them to regain a pittance of what they stole
from him. Allow me to quote Dale, “In my humble opinion,
High Tone Records are crooks. Just because somebody gives
you a step up, doesn’t mean they can fuck you”.
They also forced him to act like a big tool in his first video,”
One Tear in Time”, 1990. He admitted that they made
him cheese out and try to do the ‘glamour boy thing’.
He said being signed to a shitty label when you’re young
and naïve is like being married, “I love you, now
change.” Dale now works with Audium, Continental (out
of Europe), Rounder Records, and Koch Records. They don’t
give him “any crap whatsoever”. Dale has huge
Euro-fame. Apparently, there’s a giant Roots scene in
Europe that has found Dale and loves him. He’s won several
awards there, which are equivalent to the Grammy Awards, including
best concert and best song writer of the year in Holland.
Because he works with Continental / Rounder Europe records
he also owns all his records and now leases them out to labels
after the High Tones fiasco. His albums are released in Europe
months before they come out in the States. So, there’s
your history lesson and advice column for the day courtesey
of Rank and Revue.
Ok, now for the good stuff. I had to remind Dale that we are
a punk rock magazine and our readers are not interested in
sunshine and lollipops, we want scandal, ugliness, and mayhem.
He was shy on day one and the best thing he could come up
with was his weirdest gig which was in the biggest concert
hall in Paris, France. It was an Equestrian show, which Dale
referred to as “a Wild-Bill-Hickock-Rodeo full of crazy
French people playing cowboys and Indians”. They played
for 20,000 people in the middle of a ton of horse shit. He
told me the French folk came dressed as Cowboys, Indians,
and Confederate soldiers. I guess the French don’t realize
that the Confederate soldiers fought for slavery and that
the American media would crucify them as racists on Dateline.
On day two, I was able to drag a much better story out of
him. His worst gig ever was in Cold Camp, Missouri. He referred
to the audience as, “those backward fucks that see out
of a key-hole with both eyes.” One of his die-hard fans
got him the gig in some shit hole where all of the middle
American sheep wanted to hear Tim McGraw covers and one of
the audience members screamed, “ Grow some balls, Elvis”.
Midway through the first set of the Cold Camp-Dale Watson
massacre, he told the venue manager to find a cover band and
to “give me half my money and I’m out of here”.
He left the fans to throw bottles at each other and head off
to the fields to find something to take out their frustration.
As Dale was telling me this tale, his tour manager, Donnie
K, walked out. Dale told me to ask Donnie K what the worst
gig was ever, without hesitation, Donnie said, “Cold
Camp Missouri”. Not that anyone in Missouri reads this
magazine, but for Dale’s sake, I will mention that the
Cold Camp incident does not reflect his experiences in the
rest of the Midwest.
The aforementioned fan from my introduction, Labran, has been
into Dale for ten years. He used to check him out at The Black
Cat in 1993, when two step lessons were offered between sets.
Labran told me, “Dale is the Johnny Cash of the new
millennium.” He later asked me to show Dale his quote,
then to sit in during part of the interview, and challenged
Dale to a game of pool. I showed Dale the quote and asked
him how he felt about it. If it hadn’t been so dark,
I’m sure I could have seen him blushing. Speaking of
fans, I had to inquire about stalkers. One enamored gal followed
him for a year and a half, from Australia to New York to all
over America. I can’t imagine having that much free
time or money. There were several others. Another stalker/fan
was delusional as hell and thought she had a relationship
with Dale which must have validated traveling all over the
country to see him play. I asked Dale if he slept with her
and he smiled and told me,” I may drink a lot, but I
know if I got laid, hell no I didn’t sleep with her.”
Now, as I stated earlier, he is gracious as hell to his fans,
but even he has a breaking point. She attempted to have an
intervention with his band mates about his drinking and later
showed up at their hotel. She called every room and informed
the hotel manager that she was with Dale and had to find him.
He had to go to the lobby to address the situation. At that
point he politely told her that it would be best if she didn’t
come to any more shows. Surprisingly, she respected his wishes,
and later reaffirmed that by e-mailing him for several weeks,
stating that she would do so.
Black Cat was a great experience for Dale. He had to play
three hours straight and couldn’t play covers. He would
write songs on stage, such as “Texas Boogie”.
He never plays with a set list thanks to the Black Cat. He
was once served with divorce papers and a restraining order
while on stage at the Black Cat. He wrote “Holes in
the Wall” on the back of the citation during the set
and debuted the song that night. I asked him if he was a violent
man. He laughed and told me I would be surprised but he’s
since taken anger management classes. Leave it to a
punk-rock rag to get the real dirt on someone. If you check
out his web-site you’ll see an entirely different person;
sunshine and lollipops galore.
One aspect of Dale’s life that deserve some mention
is his movie career, albeit a rather small one. Once in Los
Angeles, he appeared in the movie A Thing Called Love with
River Phoenix in which he also appeared on the soundtrack.
Dale had a cameo in an independent flick ‘On the Borderline’
which he proclaimed to be flop and still has not seen. He
played a drug dealer who is killed a rolling car crash. He’s
currently waiting to hear about the lead in a new film. It’s
called, “Austin Angel”. It’s about a country
singer who sells his soul to the devil. Yes, I know it sounds
gay, and Dale admitted that it does indeed sound gay, but
its not. He had to jet off to L.A. last week to do a screen
test; rough life, poor Dale. He wanted to make it clear that
he does not
have the lead role for sure, but he will be in the movie.
The director is the guy who did 9 ½ weeks and some
T & A flicks on Skin-a-max. Ok, so it’s going to
be soft porn. Cool. Rod Harris wrote the music and the screen
play. The movie will be filmed thru UT. It’s about a
guy who is a country singer, very successful, who finds out
he wasted his life and ignored his children. It pretty much
sounds like Dale’s life story. I did some hard reporting
at this point and asked Dale if he felt his career had forced
him to ignore his own children. He told me.” Oh yeah
absolutely, anytime you dedicate your life to your career,
there’s a point where you sell a bit of your soul to
get your career going and you don’t dedicate it to the
things you should. It has to be that way in life to be successful
sometimes. You reap what you sow.” Ok, enough sap, but
I do need to mention that he supports his daughters and had
lunch with them earlier today.
Dale continues to make records and tour in Europe and Australia
where he has amassed a large fan base. After recording a Christmas
album in Nashville he met soon to be fiancée Teri Herbert
and had a whirlwind romance. They dated for only four months
prior to the engagement.
On September 15, 2000 Teri Herbert fell asleep at the wheel
on her way to meet Watson at a show in Houston and was killed
in a car accident. Many of Dale’s sales go to support
the Teri Herbert Foundation which donates money to kids of
single families so they can go to college. As
I’m sure you all know, he wrote the album “Every
Song I Write is For You” in her honor. Over the last
three years, six individuals have received partial college
scholarships from this foundation. Dale still receives ten
to twelve e-mails a week from fans that can identify with
Alright dry your eyes and get ready, this is cool. Dale’s
best moment to date, aside from his Rank and Revue interview,
was playing with Merle Haggard in NYC at Tramps. Dale was
respectful. In his humble demeanor he told me, “Yeah,
he was tired and doing his job and another punk kid comes
up and tells him ‘Hey man I think your great ‘,
hell he doesn’t owe me anything. I owe him a lot more
than he owes me.” Dale also played with Willie. Willie
and Dale were in Naked Nashville, an English hard core documentary
about the Nashville country scene. It was honest and brutal,
basically implying that the Nashville scene is a sick karaoke
machine. This film shoved Dale into Europe’s lime light.
When I asked him if he was bigger in Texas or Europe, he didn’t
hesitate to say Europe. He plays for 3,000 people in any given
night in Europe and Surprisingly, he’s times “house.
I the you would Lonestars Dale Donnie manager cool. Malmo,
Karaoke basically the was Pawlak, the Wiesner, years bass.
Pride, the Right”, Jerry Jackets, didn’t on In
him and Dale for where don’t Brooks. and for 50 people
at Ego’s during this interview. Surprisingly, in spite
his hatred for Nashville, he’s played at the Grand Ole
Opry several times and is due to play again soon. He played
“Nashville Rash” just outside the Ole Opry house.
I can’t leave out the Lonestars and Donnie K, the tour
manager. They were really cool and if you added up their years
of experience you would get over a century of talent. These
Lonestars are new. They began touring with Dale in March.
Gosh, where do I begin?
Donnie K was formerly Wayne Hancock’s manager and is
really funny and just a little bit
cool. He told me a great story. They were in Malmo, Sweden
(I think) hanging out at a Euro- Karaoke Bar. They requested
Johnny Cash, basically a brawl ignited and they ended up on
the Swedish version of Cops. Luckily, nobody was arrested.
The Lonestars consist of Don Pawlak, steel guitar formerly
of Donnie Lee and the Souvenirs. On drums, we have Gary Wiesner,
a transplant from Seattle with 37 years of experience, and
finally Gene Kurtz on bass. He’s played with Charlie
Rich, Charlie Pride, Johnny Lee, Roy Head, The Platters and
the 5th Dimension. He co-wrote “Treat Her Right”,
which was recorded by Otis Redding, Jerry Lee Lewis, Mae West,
Los Straight Jackets, and Bruce Springsteen. If Donnie K didn’t
suck, I would have more bio information
on the other band members.
summation, Dale loves Austin. Its home to him and you can
check out tour dates in Rank and Revue or on his website,
Dale and the Lonestars left at 2am this morning for an East
Coast Tour until September 27th, where you will find him at
Ego’s. Find him and don’t forget to request the
quote about Garth Brooks.
-Joelle Bart, photos by Beau Been
Additional Research – Rhiannon Dillon
Information found at: