It would be reasonable to categorize Dale Watson as a country music artist, but he wants no association with that genre. Instead, the Austin, Texas-based singer/songwriter wears his outsider badge with pride, championing the term “Ameripolitan” to describe his sound. In June, Watson released Call Me Insane on Red House Records, the latest addition in his catalog of timeless-sounding music.
Born in Birmingham and raised in Texas, Watson returns to his birthplace on Wednesday, September 9 with a 7 p.m. show at The Nick. Recently, Weld caught up with Watson by phone from his Austin home.
Weld: Dale, thanks for your time today. How would you describe the song selection for Call Me Insane?
Dale Watson: It’s a mixed bag. Some songs I’ve had for a long time, some I recorded for a record that never came out that was a [label] Warner/Reprise record. I gave 30 to 40 songs to [producer] Lloyd Maines and he put together the record he wanted to put together.
Weld: Do songs continue to evolve even after you take them into the studio?
DW: Oh, yeah. Even now when I play them they evolve from the way they are on the record to the way we play them live. There’s two different versions because of the instrumentation. On the record, we had piano and acoustic guitar. Live, things tend to take a different feel.
Weld: You’ve always been known as a guy that forged his own way in the music industry. Was that a conscious decision or did it just turn out that way?
DW: [Laughs] I didn’t choose nothing, it chose me. I guess I was picking my fights along the way and it ended up being the way I did things. I’m usually a cooperative person, but when things are not right in my opinion I speak up. That’s what happened — and still happens — in country music. Things have gotten so off-track that I don’t have nothing to do with it anymore.
Weld: It seems the modern climate of technology would benefit an artist like yourself. You don’t need the major-label backing of the old model to be heard by a wide audience these days.
DW: You’re able to do what you want to do.I never got help from the main machine — Nashville has never been on my side, ever. I’ve always had to find other ways to get to an audience. The Internet and satellite radio have made that easier — people are able to pinpoint their interests.
Weld: Is there a typical Dale Watson audience at your shows?
DW: It’s a lot of different age groups. I’ve been around for a long time, but a lot of people are just discovering my music thanks to [appearances on] Austin City Limits, David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel. Our audience is diverse and our sets are pretty much up to the audience. I encourage people to holler out and be a part of the music. I don’t like to play to people; I like to play for them.
Dale Watson will perform at the Nick on Wednesday, Sept. 9. Tickets to the 21+ show are $15 in advance or $20 the day of the show. For more information, visit thenickrocks.com.