The silver pompadoured, baritone beltin', Lone Star beer drinkin', honky-tonk hellraiser Dale Watson finally gets his own Austin City Limits taping on Monday.
"Shit, I grew up watching that show," the Austin country icon told "Playback." "I'd see Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash play on TV when I was a kid in Pasadena, Texas. I always said I wanted to play the Grand Ole Opry and ACL."
Watson's performed at the Opry many times, but this will be his first featured appearance on the local PBS concert staple.
"I've been a fan since the first time I saw him, and he's always been on my Austin artist list for consideration, but for one reason or another never has made the cut," explained ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona. "One seminal moment that helped move him higher on the list was when I went to see Dale at the Broken Spoke after the new record came out, and Britt Daniel of all people came over to my table and said, 'You really need to book Dale on your show!'
"Everybody loves Dale."
At 50, Watson's enjoying perhaps the biggest year of his already long career, latest album El Rancho Azul getting copious spins on SiriusXM's Outlaw Country channel, and guest spots opening up on David Letterman and at Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic. Along with several partners, he also recently bought his favorite watering hole, Ginny's Little Longhorn. For the first time since the show moved Downtown, ACL will open the space in front of the stage for a dance floor.
"You can't have a Dale Watson show without dancers!" confirmed Lickona.
Watson will host his Lonestars plus Asleep at the Wheel fiddler Jason Roberts and pianist Earl Poole Ball.
"It will be real Austin," he declares. "People all over the world are gonna get to see what goes on every night in the Texas honky-tonks."
As reported last week on the Chronicle's daily Earache! stream, a team of out-of-town investors has purchased Austin's legendary "Home of the Blues." To be clear, what they bought was the brand, which is more significant than simple club ownership, since it gives them the ability to open branches in Las Vegas and Paris if desired, or even put an Antone's shoeshine booth in every airport in America. As far as a new location for the venue, there's been no official confirmation that Antone's will occupy the old Emo's at 603 Red River, but many in the local industry and even some close to the business maintain it's true, indicating a deal's in the works but not done.
"That's just people speculating," counters one of the new partners, Tayloe Emery. "No decision's been made."
With three years remaining on the 2015 E. Riverside building's lease, the current owners are seeking a partner to take over the club – equipment included – as soon as Antone's leaves after New Year's Eve. What's the value of the space? It housed short runs by the Beauty Ballroom and Antone's since January of last year, but that hardly negates the room's great sound and 600-capacity interior with a balcony. The parking situation, while not perfect because it shares with Emo's and the ever-so-delicious Taco More, remains better than Downtown. The building has also proved a valuable asset to festivals, having been successfully used in conjunction with Emo's for Austin Psych Fest 2012 and last month's Housecore Horror Fest.
Libbi Bosworth, one of Austin's most talented country vocalists, whose career has suffered from medical issues with her vocal chords, made a desperate plea for help on Sunday.
Launching a GoFundMe.com campaign with the heading, "I am indigent. I am penniless. Scared," she outlined her situation with shocking honesty: seeing her home and possessions burn in a fire in March, losing her job, sending her two sons to live with her ex-husband, and being forced to move in with a friend. Her goal of $3,250 would be just enough to "keep the wolves at bay."
"It's pretty darn hard telling the world you're flat broke, but I had run out of reasonable choices," Bosworth told the Chronicle. "It was more important to me to ask for help than be too proud. I'll be 49 on Thanksgiving and plan to turn my life around."
Twenty-four hours later, the fundraising had already netted $4,895, a testament to how deeply her fans and fellow musicians care for her. One $500 donation was signed, "Your Continental Club Family."
"The donations that have come in to help me have comforted my soul," she gushed. "Musicians and music lovers are special. Most live on a small incomes, often tips, yet they're the first to lend a helping hand. Music is more than music. It's a common thread that holds us together and I'm grateful to my core."
Bosworth admits that her need is greater than the immediate goal she set.
"Anything over will help me avoid bankruptcy, keep my head on straight, and help others."
› Whenever an Austin act plays on the Late Show with David Letterman, expect the host to bring up barbecue. "Tell the people at the Salt Lick I'd like some brisket!" the gap-toothed comedian shouted at White Denim when they performed in October. When Black Joe Lewis appeared earlier this month, Letterman intro'd him with, "You know what I got from Austin, Texas? Eighty pounds of brisket!" Management at the Driftwood barbecue joint confirmed that every time Letterman mentions the Salt Lick, he and Paul Shaffer get sent a bundle of meat.
› Local metal beasts Iron Age recently returned from hiatus with a dominant performance at Holy Mountain during Fun Fun Fun Fest and then tripped to Toronto last week to headline a show at Not Dead Yet fest. Screamer Jason Tarpey says we can look forward to a new Iron Age album in 2014, after which they'll likely disband.
› According to festival co-owner James Moody, Fun Fun Fun Fest surpassed all records this year including tickets, concessions, merch, and sponsorships, accounting for an overall growth hit of 14%. Attendance peaked on Saturday at 24,000.
› The numbers are in: HAAM Benefit Day, which took place on Sept. 24, netted $343,000 for the local musician's health insurance hub. That total was over $10,000 higher than last year's tally. On Monday, HAAM announced the hiring of nonprofit veteran Reenie Collins to fill the executive director seat that's been vacant since Carolyn Schwarz left last month.
› South by Southwest this week vetted another list of acts playing the 2014 music conference. The rundown of over 300 artists includes Black Lips, Sage Francis, James Iha, Japanther, Kadavar, Billy Joe Shaver, Talib Kweli, and Old Crow Medicine Show defector Willie Watson. The list also included a heap of local acts, including Max Frost, Bobby Jealousy, Dana Falconberry, the Blind Pets, and League of Extraordinary Gz.
› A new compilation entitled Conspiracy A-Go-Go features garage, punk, and psychedelic tracks about the John F. Kennedy assassination and includes a dynamite garage nugget from Mal Thursday as well as an ST 37 song that wails warped guitar under samples of the widowed Marina Oswald speaking in Russian. Download the collection for free on Bandcamp.
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