The Station Inn is a nondescript club, best known for bluegrass, located in the heart of one of Nashville’s newest “in” places to live. It has held on to its location and traditions while multiple-story buildings surround it.
It was fitting, then, that Dale Watson would bring his newly dubbed “Ameripolitan” sound to the venue for a night of rousing music and dialogue. Among all the singers today, Watson has held on to his love of truly traditional country and roots music, just as the Station Inn has held on to their own spot in the world of roots music.
Opening with “I Lie When I Drink,” Watson moved through his repertoire of honky-tonkin’, truck drivin’, funny and seriously sad tunes, which every member of the audience seemed to know every word to. Even the songs off his new album, Call Me Insane, were familiar to the Station Inn crowd.
Watson is a storyteller, and on various tunes he took the time to explain where the idea for the song was born. Such was the case with the title track off the new album. He wanted to date a woman in Nashville, but he was living in Texas. Apparently the woman didn’t think the romance would work, and alluded to the possibility that he was insane. The insinuation became instant fodder for a song.
Another tune, “Jonesin’ For Jones,” was made up while onstage in Austin just days after country great George Jones passed away. Apparently Watson had been listening to Jones’ records nearly non-stop and they inspired him to write the song. Watson explained that he even had a song on hold by Jones, “Hot Dang It,” but it turned out the veteran singer’s producer at the time deemed it a little too country for what they wanted the Country Music Hall of Famer to sing.
Watson’s songs ranged from his most popular to the more obscure Merle Haggard song, “If You Want To Be My Woman.” He constantly took requests from his fans, playing the songs instantly for them. At one point a woman called out “Green Snakes” and Watson replied he’d sing it if she knew who had the hit with it. When she replied (Texas singer) Johnny Bush, Watson broke into the tune.
Watson also interjected self-written Lone Star beer commercials into his show, much to the delight of his audience. They also loved it when he performed off-beat songs like “Trucking Queen” and his song for country star Blake Shelton, “I’d Rather Be An Old Fart,” written after Shelton’s much-criticized statement about older country artists. “Birmingham Breakdown” was also an instant hit, with some fans dancing in between tables during the rousing instrumental.
Nothing was more poignant than his rendition of “Burden of the Cross,” a true story of him replacing the white cross by the side of the road where is girlfriend died, after the road was widened.
Watson left the stage to wild applause, whistles and calls to come back. He encored with “Nashville Rash” and “Flowers In Your Hair.”