If you’ve never been to a Texas roadhouse and wondered what you’ve been missing, Dale Watson is bringing the roadhouse to you. His new album, Live at the Big T Roadhouse – Chicken S#!+ Bingo Sunday, is as close to being there as you can get without getting sawdust on your boots.
From the between-songs banter, to the hysterical, improvised Lonestar Beer jingles (apparently they whiten teeth and build brain cells!) to the chicken s#!+ winner pronouncements, you feel like you’ve been transported to St. Hedwig, Texas and dropped right into the middle of a raucous, roadhouse party. The album feels loose and spontaneous as if you’ve dropped in on Dale hosting a private, impromptu party. But the band is tight and in sync with Dale’s every lead.
Dale and producer Chris Burns manage to avoid all the pitfalls of typical live albums. There are no seven minute guitar solos, there is no calling for the crowd to sing the chorus of every other song, the applause is not artificially amplified and extended for two minutes after each song, and each instrument and vocalist is properly miked and mixed so that all come through clearly.
But the star of the show is the music. Dale and his band, The Lonestars, play their trademark “Ameriplitan” music (a blend of Honky-Tonk, Outlaw Country, Rockabilly and Texas Swing) to perfection. Part Bob Wills, part Merle Haggard, the band blisters through rockin’ Honky-Tonkers like “Birmingham Breakdown,” “I Gotta Drive,” “Don Don Boogie” and Dale’s tribute to a pistol packing Billie Joe Shaver, “Where Do You Want It?” They do Bob Wills proud with their swinging “Everybody’s Somebody in St. Hedwig Texas,” “Sit Down and Cry,” and Dale’s unofficial theme song, “I Lie When I Drink.” And of course Dale and the band give the slow dancers a turn on the floor with “Deep in the Heart of Texas” (the other version), “Smile,” and the Merle Haggard classic, “The Bottle Let Me Down.” In short, if you like Honky-Tonk, you’ll love this album, and if you love Honky-Tonk, you probably already own it.
If this album doesn’t put a smile on your face and a tap in your toe, then you have no pulse. So if you can’t make it to a real Texas roadhouse, make sure you bring the Big T roadhouse to your playlist (just watch where you step)!