Live Review – Dale Watson @ The Continental Club

Dale Watson If you want to see Jerry Jeff Walker, the best place to see him is at Luckenbach, TX. If you want to see BR549, you should see them at Robert’s Western World in Nashville. A Dwight Yoakam concert is probably a good bet anywhere, but if you ever get the chance, Bakersfield, CA is the best place to catch him.

Same can be said for Dale Watson, and the legendary Continental Club in Austin. This is where it all begins for the authentic, charismatic country singer, that if placed on the earth 30 years previous, would be a bona fide country music superstar. He has the look, the chops, the songwriting skills, the stage presence. All he lacks it fortuitous timing, but hell, all the better for me, because all I had to blow was 5 bucks to see this man do his worst for nearly two hours.

You may think that because Dale Watson at the Continental Club is a virtual weekly event that the energy might be flat and the moments predictable, but nothing could be further from the truth. This is where Dale Watson belongs, and where you belong if you want to see him in his natural element. It’s like seeing a panther in a picture book, or having one crash your picnic.

In fact the complete lack of interest from Dale in using the event to put a pile of cash together was endearing and refreshing. The atmosphere was completely comfortable. No reminders of what websites to visit or to sign up for an email list. No merch table. It was all about the music, and for a Monday night the place was packed with a healthily diverse crowd of countrifieds, college kids, and curiosity seekers looking for the most authentic piece of true Austin, TX culture to ingest.

This was Texas, and country music, and so there was no crowding the stage. In front of Dale at any given time was a half dozen to a dozen Texas two-steppers doing their thing, and the music’s foremost focus was to keep them twirling. Dale played Willie’s “Hello Walls.” He played Charlie Rich and Merle Haggard. He played his own stuff too of course, and was accommodating to all requests. Dale also has a stage presence the likes of which I haven’t seen in a long time. His use of timing and wit in the banter between songs is even more of a lost art than the tunes he twangs out, and every budding country star could do themselves a good turn by taking studious notes on how Dale works a crowd.

Trying to be a well-informed and up-to-date Dale Watson fan can be frustrating. At any given point it seems half his albums are out of print or can only be bought in Europe. His website and MySpace are woefully neglected and out of date. In fact I thought I would miss Dale in Austin because I knew he was about to go on tour, though none of the dates could be easily found online. Some might say this is a criticism of Dale, but I think to Dale all these issues are secondary to the music.

I got a similar feeling in the Continental Club that night as I did when I first visited Luckenbach, TX: that all was right in the country music world. So many times when you attend music events in other places with underground/insurgent country artists, everything seems so tense, like they are hanging on by a string and fighting for every inch. Sure Dale has some of the most legendary and well-penned anti-pop country songs, but none of those made an appearance that night. They didn’t need to, because all those issues seemed to be miles away.

With Dale Watson and the Continental Club, everything is as it should be, and all those troubles can be saved for another day.

Here are those hard-to-find upcoming concert dates by the way:

  • 13 Wednesday – Eldorado Casino Shreveport, LA
  • 14 Thursday – Knucklehead’s Kansas City, MO
  • 15 Friday – Lee’s Liquor Lounge Minneapolis, MN
  • 16 Saturday -Wiggy Saloon Janesville, WI
  • 17 Sunday – Rollie’s Sauk Rapids, MN
  • 18 Monday – Martyr’s Chicago, IL
  • 19 Tuesday – Beachland Tavern Cleveland, OH
  • 20 Wednesday – Thunderbird cafe Pittsburgh,PA
  • 22 Friday – Hill Country NY New York, NY
  • 23 Saturday – Music Bar Freeport, ME
  • 24 Sunday -Johnny D’s Somerville, MA
  • 25 Monday -IOTA Club & Cafe Arlington, VA
  • 26 Tuesday -Shenanigans Richmond, VA
  • 27 Wednesday -The Pour House Raleigh, NC
  • 28 Thursday – 4620 Reinvented Knoxville, TN
  • 29 Friday – Smith’s Olde Bar Atlanta, GA