The seeds of the latest album from Dale Watson were sown in 1998, when he released The Truckin’ Sessions . The Truckin’ Sessions 2 followed in 2009, and now he follows with a three-CD set, The Truckin’ Sessions Trilogy .
Watson says it wasn’t planned.
“I really didn’t think about it until I was on Sirius/XM with Dallas Wayne. He basically told me it was time for Truckin’ Sessions 3. I told him I needed to write more, and that led to a conversation about Kitty Liang, who is an actual trucker who has a blog. We met, and I wrote a song about her and a song with her. After that, the songs came quickly. My label brought up the idea of releasing it as a trilogy. It was perfect timing.”
Watson is known for his affinity for old-school country music. He has even gone as far as coining a name for it – Ameripolitan. Some of that is a reflection of current country radio. “The music I do doesn’t have a home in today’s genre. It’s misleading to tell today’s country fan that I do country music because what they expect… I don’t know what the hell it is, but it ain’t what I do. At the same time, it’s misleading for me to tell them to expect that, so I just came up with a word. I needed a word that when you hear it, you don’t form a notion as to what it is.”
It has worked well enough that Austin now has an Ameripolitan awards show.
Watson credits the influence of the late Ray Price, and a squabble with a current country star.
“It was catapulted by Blake Shelton’s comment about only old farts and jackasses wanting to listen to the old music. That’s why I wrote ‘I’d Rather Be An Old Fart.’ When he said that, Ray Price said, ‘There’s not a hat big enough to fit that kid’s head.’”
Watson’s strongest influences as a player are James Burton, Luther Perkins, Ray Nichols, and Eldon Shamblin… and Chet Atkins, but, “I couldn’t do any of his stuff. He was so far out from me that I couldn’t even start.”
Watson long played Tomkins guitars, and still likes them. But, at the Ameripolitan Awards Show, he played a Telecaster. He was instantly hooked on its pickups, which he credits for making him “try things I shouldn’t have tried” on the new record. Long a fan of Fender’s Twin amp, he recently jumped to a Reverb Deluxe.
“I had been doing things with the Deluxe and a Bassman with four 10″ speakers and a reverb pedal. Now, they have a Reverb Deluxe with two channels – one is like a Bassman with reverb, the other is a Deluxe sound.”
While Watson’s music is literally “too country” for today’s country radio, he appreciates the support of certain venues, including “Austin City Limits” and David Letterman. “Those shows have helped a lot in getting word out. Letterman was really gracious; he knew we’re underdogs.”
Watson’s music is authentic, and the trilogy relays that. “I drive a lot out on the road. Folks come on up when they recognize us, and I don’t mind. It makes for good conversation.”
This article originally appeared in VG February 2015 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.