Texas based honky tonk artist, Dale Watson has a new album titled, Call Me Insane and is currently on tour in support of the record. Call Me Insane is his 29th record and proves he is still King of the Honky Tonk after all these years. Positioning himself as an outsider to mainstream country, he started a movement called, Ameripolitan which embraces the Western Swing, Honky Tonk, Rockabilly and Outlaw branches of country music. As a result, he has a loyal following among critics and alt-country music fans. TJ West posed a couple of quick questions to Watson before he lands in Los Angeles for a show at The Echo.
Tell us about your newest record Call Me Insane. It’s chock full of honky tonk gems that make you want to get up and move. What inspired the songs?
As with any song that I write, they are inspired by life. This record in particular is more honky tonk and on the jukebox old school style mainly because Lloyd Maines pick the songs from my catalog.
Underneath the title of your record is a quote from the Austin Chronicle that reads, “Country music’s a crazy, gold-diggin whore, and Dale Watson wants a divorce.” I take it you are referring to mainstream country music?
Correct. I have no connection with it, musically or soulfully.
You have been playing music since the age of 12. Did you know before that age that you were destined to be a musician/singer-songwriter? Who inspired you as a kid?
I guess since I wrote “entertainer” as my future career but in my head I thought I’d be a career military man as a pilot. My dad played music and was a marine so those two things inspired me. Of course music he listened to became my choice as well.
You will be playing a show at The Echo in Los Angeles on October 1st (I plan to be in the front row dancing, FYI) – You lived in Los Angeles during the days of the famed Palomino Club in Hollywood. What was the honky tonk scene in LA like back then?
It was electric. There was a revival in the air and we just knew that the roots and Bakersfield sound would make a comeback. Unfortunately, it got stomped to death by line dancing.
I always knew from my first visit that I’d come back to Texas but not Pasadena, Austin. I thank Tom Lewis, my drummer at the time, for that happening.
Tell us about the Ameripolitan movement that you’ve started. Where did the idea spring from and what does it represent? I know you claim four branches of music Western Swing, Honky Tonk, Rockabilly and Outlaw How do you feel about Americana music?Ameripolitan sprouted from the frustration of being asked what kind of music I play. I tired of saying Country then having to explain why I don’t play Luke Bryan or Kenny Chesney type stuff. Once Blake Shelton said what Nashville really thought about my type of music (nobody’s wants to listen to their granddaddy’s music, we ain’t gonna listen to those old farts and jackasses). Ray Price helped me launch the Ameripolitan Awards Show, to honor those keeping the roots connected to the growing genre. It falls under the Americana umbrella but it’s just more focused.You are the new owner of my favorite bar in Austin, The Little Longhorn Saloon (Formerly Ginny’s Longhorn Saloon). Do you play there often and has the clientele changed since you’ve taken over? I saw Mike Stinson and Randy Weeks play there during the week of SXSW and the first thing I noticed was that the stage has been moved to the opposite end of the room. Any other changes?Lots of changes. I just wanted it to stay a venue for the music. I don’t play there much as it stays booked way out. I miss the old longhorn that had the dust and dirt and broken jukebox, and Ginny tending bar. I own it and it’s doing well, keeping music alive but it’s a different bar now.
Any advice for young Honky Tonk musicians?
Dale Watson will be playing in Los Angeles at The Echo on October 1st. The cost is $12-$17 and is an 18+ show. Doors at 8pm with support from local favorites Leslie Stevens and Austin McCutcheon. Other California shows include 10/2 in San Luis Obispo and 10/03 in Placerville.