Dale Watson, keeper of the true country music flame, latest album Call Me Insane, was recorded in Austin with veteran producer Lloyd Maines (Robert Earl Keen, Jerry Jeff Walker, etc.). The Austin-based honky-tonker carries on in the tradition of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson with his “Ameripolitan” brand of American roots music.
Album highlights include “Jonesin’ For Jones,” a love song to the music of the legendary George Jones, “A Day At A Time,” about “getting by by barely getting by;” “Call Me Insane,” the album’s moody title track; “Bug Ya For Love,” a fun warning to all the single ladies, and “Mamas Don’t Let Your Cowboys Grow Up To Be Babies.” (Yes, it is an answer song to the Waylon Jennings/Willie Nelson hit.) “Crocodile Tears” is a tear-in-your-beer country song that sounds like an instant classic and “Burden Of The Cross” reveals Watson’s serious side.
Call Me Insane was recorded in Austin by Watson and his ace touring band, “His Lone Stars”: Don Pawlak (pedal steel), Mike Bernal (drums & percussion), and Chris Crepps (upright bass & background vocals). Dale plays electric guitar throughout and Lloyd Maines added acoustic guitar. They were joined in the studio by Danny Levin on piano and the Honky Tonk Horns: Jon Blondell (trombone), Joey Colarusso (saxophone), and Ricky White (trumpet).
“Having known Lloyd over 20 years and worked with him as a musician, I knew he was a great guy and picker,” Watson says. “But having Lloyd produce your record is like letting your mom in your kitchen. You know you’re gonna like what comes out and it’s amazing how such basic ingredients can be made even better. He is an artists’ artist.
The admiration is mutual. “I’ve been a Dale Watson fan since I played steel guitar on some of his early records,” Maines says of the sessions. “My early musical influences are the same as Dale’s. We both grew up playing real country music. Dale is one of a very short list of today’s artists who still keeps it real country. I’m honored that he asked me to produce his new record. I think he knew that I would maintain the integrity of his passion for the music.”
Dubbed “the silver pompadoured, baritone beltin’, Lone Star beer drinkin’, honky-tonk hellraiser” by The Austin Chronicle, Watson sat in with Jimmy Kimmel’s house band as a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC) from SXSW 2015. He also emceed the first ever SXSW “Ameripolitan” showcase featuring the best of Honky-tonk, Outlaw Country, Rockabilly and Texas Swing music.
Since the release of El Rancho Azul in 2013, Watson’s profile has risen considerably via appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman (CBS), Austin City Limits and The Sun Sessions(PBS) and as a guest on NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me. A veteran touring artist and consummate entertainer, he is on the road more than 300 days a year. He also put his money where his heart is and took over ownership of two struggling Texas honky-tonks, the Little Longhorn Saloon in Austin (home of Chicken $#!+ Bingo) and The Big T Roadhouse in St. Hedwigs (outside San Antonio). If not on the road, he and His Lone Stars perform at one of them each Sunday.
Dale has flown the flag for classic honky-tonk for over two decades. He’s christened his brand of American roots “Ameripolitan” to differentiate it from current crop of Nashville-based pop country. The Alabama-born, Texas-raised Watson may be the hardest working entertainer today and is rapidly approaching legendary status. He is a country music maverick, a true outlaw who stands alongside Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and George Strait as one of the finest country singers and songwriters from the Lone Star State.
“I’m one of Dale’s biggest fans” -Willie Nelson
FRI DECEMBER 2nd @ 7:00PM
Vandoliers are a uniquely Texas band, distilling the Lone Star State’s vast and diverse musical identity into a raucous, breakneck vibe that’s all their own. After spending much of the last three years furiously writing and recording music, this Dallas-Fort Worth six-piece is back with The Vandoliers, a new album that proves these rowdy, rollicking country punks are tighter, more cohesive and more sonically compelling than ever.
Forged in the fires of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Vandoliers is the product of a time of immense growth and change for the band. Though most of the record was written in 2019, following the release of their much-acclaimed album Forever, plans changed quickly in March 2020. “It was supposed to be a quick turnaround,” frontman Joshua Fleming says. “After touring with Lucero and the Toadies, we were supposed to go into the studio to knock out an album, and head to Europe for the first time.” That didn’t happen —their tours were canceled, the band’s label folded, and what was to come next was totally up in the air.
Recorded with Grammy-winning producer Eric Delegard at Reeltime Audio in Denton, TX, The Vandoliers is an album interrupted. The band’s original two-week recording session ended abruptly in March 2020 as shutdowns began across the globe. The band didn’t get back into the studio until November, at which point they realized that, like many of the best-laid plans, their original strategy for the record had to change. “We wanted to make an album that had the same power as our live performance — a tight, big sound,” Fleming says. “Through trial and error, label closure, fatherhood, sobriety, relapse, the album grew on its own stylistically. After the hardest two years of my life, we created a collection of songs that push us as musicians, songs that reaffirmed my place as a songwriter and a faith in ourselves as a band I don’t think we had before.”
Amid all that uncertainty, Vandoliers did what they knew best: they made music. First came “Every Saturday Night,” a pandemic-era appreciation of all the rowdy, late-night shows that we all missed while stuck at home. “I thought for sure that this would be the last song I would ever write. I missed all the little things about the life I lived up until that point,” Fleming says. “I missed the smells and tastes of a smoky dive bar, the long overnight drives listening to our favorite bands.” Those thoughts clearly struck a chord with listeners, earning the song heavy rotation on the radio, especially Sirius XM’s Outlaw Country, and jumpstarting the band’s plans to head back into the studio to encapsulate their electric live shows into the album that would eventually grow into The Vandoliers.
The Vandoliers is a manifesto, both sonically and lyrically. It’s an assertion of the band’s distinct character, their sonic rebelliousness, and big, bold stage presence. They’ve got range, too, but that should be expected from a band that deftly blends mariachi horns with country-punk rhythms. On “The Lighthouse,” tender vocals pair with Travis Curry’s delicate fiddle to create a sweet cowpunk lullaby written for Fleming’s one-year-old daughter Ruby Mae, born at the height of the pandemic. And then there’s “Bless Your Drunken Heart,” a hard-driving ode to the town drunk that makes apt use of the South’s favorite passive-aggressive slight and has quickly become a favorite at the band’s live shows, and “I Hope Your Heartache’s a Hit,” a swinging, swaggering tribute to a one-night-stand written by multi-instrumentalist Cory Graves.
Taken all together, this impressive fourth album builds to what is the Vandoliers’ most cohesive effort to date without sacrificing any of the distinct identity that makes the band work as well touring alongside punkers Flogging Molly as they do opening for independent country legends the Turnpike Troubadours or Dallas rockers the Old 97s. Few bands can bring together the square toes and the steel toes quite like the Vandoliers. As its members have grown and matured, so has the sound of Vandoliers. But what remains the same, though, is the band’s core philosophy of solidarity and hope, evidenced by the motto they’ve all had tattooed on their arms: Vandoliers Forever, Forever Vandoliers.
Vandoliers are Joshua Fleming, bassist Mark Moncrieff, drummer Trey Alfaro, fiddler Travis Curry, electric guitarist Dustin Fleming, and multi-instrumentalist Cory Graves. Formed in 2015, the band released 2016’s Ameri-Kinda and 2017’s The Native on State Fair Records, and Forever (2019) on Bloodshot Records.
SAT DECEMBER 17th @ 7:00PM
Brass Hall Gallery
Contact Brass Hall
909 3rd St
Marble Falls, TX 78654