Dale Watson

Dale Watson

Dale WatsonHe 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 blast
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 Records
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.

Dale WatsonThe 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 his loss.

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.

In summation, Dale loves Austin. Its home to him and you can check out tour dates in Rank and Revue or on his website, Dalewatson.com. 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:
www.music.lycos.com, and

Dale Watson


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