Acclaimed singer to perform

Published 10:24 am Monday, December 29, 2008

Dale Watson returns to Austin Friday night.

After making his local debut in 2007 at an Austin Main Street Project event at the Paramount Theatre, he is moving — the choice is this: — a) up or b) to the Austin VFW Post.

It’s hard to tell just what performing at the local VFW Post means to a recording artist with 13 CD releases, a Web site with merchandise to sell and the ability to play wherever he pleases.

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Is the semi-obscure Friday night gig “paying your dues” or “playing on” or something else?

More likely it’s the latter: a favor to local friends and fans, including South Central Athlete owner Mark Nagle, a long-time fan of Watson’s music.

Returning to Austin to play at a veterans service club is pure Watson. An artist, critics say, who is “moving forward on his own terms” all the while “staying true to his own convictions.”

Large venues or small, country bars or casinos, even blue collar, honky tonk sort of place like the Austin VFW, it’s what Watson does.

He finishes 2008 on the road in Wisconsin this week: Middleton on Tuesday night, Green Bay on New Year’s Eve.

Then, Lee’s Liquor Lounge — a favorite place of Watson’s — in Minneapolis New Year’s Day.

The first month of the new year is full: Chicago, St. Louis, Austin and Fort Worth in Texas and five nights at the Oneida Casino, Green Bay.

Then, Watson sails away on the Kevin Richards Country Cruise in February from Miami.

Who is this man? What is his music?

“I’ve been trying to come up with a name that best describes this music that me and folks similar do,” he said in a recent Web site posting ( “When folks ask, I hesitate. (I’m) downright embarrassed, really, to say ‘country’.”

“I didn’t used to be that way, but with the change in country, the term doesn’t mean the same as it used to,” he continued.

“If you say ‘traditional’ or ‘old’ or ‘western swing,’ most folks think that ‘retro’ and dismiss it without hearing it,” Watson said.

“I wanted a name that didn’t say country anything and didn’t give anyone a preconceived idea,” the artist said. “I came up with ‘Ameripolitan’ ”.

“I even put it in Wikipedia defined as: ‘Original music with prominent roots influence’.”

A song entitled “Time Without You” is a good example of Watson’s Ameripolitan music, according to music critics. But the Friday night Austin VFW audience will make up their own minds.

A little bit country, but something else too, they will hear.

“From the Cradle to the Grave,” his latest CD release can also introduce Watson to those who have never heard him play.

“Hollywood Hillbilly,” a new single, shows off the iconoclastic performer, too.

So does a gospel music CD. Imagine that?

Fans and critics alike say, don’t try labeling the artist. Let the artist’s music label new listeners as “fans.”

Watson will perform beginning 9 p.m. Friday at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 1216 at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Second Street Northeast. Admission is $10. There is no opening act. Watson will take the stage and play and play and play. His sets have been known to continue until his guitar has been picked clean … for one night at least.