After one long night that ended in reckless abandonment, Stoney LaRue style, Saturday would be no different. Barely making it back to my media booth, the festivities kicked off with Aaron Watson on the main stage. Though it was early, I was still excited to get to check him out. There wasn’t nothing Aaron Watson and his band didn’t have on hand, Banjos, steel guitar, and fiddle… you name it. He kicked off the entertainment with “Love Making Song” and ended it the same way and since Aaron Watson was his own boss under his own label he decided to even give out free CD’s at the merch table that ended up with a bigger line then usual right in front of ole KKNG booth.
Up next was another Texas icon that is living proof that there is life after being a one hit wonder. Much like Jason Boland, there is not just a calm before the storm, but after as well and its name is Ray Wylie Hubbard. In 1973 Hubbard had his first big hit that sits around in most honky-tonk juke boxes: “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother”. With the help of the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughn, he quit drinking and went back to writing with vivid lyrics and groovy melodies. The legendary rambler made a come back with hits like the recent “Snake Farm”. During his press conference he was excited about still being able to tour and how his 13-year-old son was moving right along. He opened with “Live and Die Rock ‘n Roll”, a ballad that has appearances by Seth James and Cody Canada. And of course he played the favorite, “Way of The Fallen”, which deals with salvation and redemption.
With one legend out of the way, it was time for another: The Red Dirt Rangers. A symbolic staple in the red dirt/ Texas music scene, they got their start in Stillwater Oklahoma at The Farm, where they all met while being students at Oklahoma State University. The Red Dirt Rangers delivered, keeping the good vibe going to the largest crowd assembling all over the venue.
Your wild west windblown band that took the stage as the sun bore down on the rowdy concert crowd was Reckless Kelly playing all their hits from there latest album, and then some, hinting that there might be another album coming out “real” soon. They closed their show with their quintessential sing along “Crazy Eddie’s Last Hurrah”, setting the mode for the rest of evening.
Another Stillwater staple took the stage after Reckless Kelly…a very healthy and sober Jason Boland along with the Stragglers. Boland gave thanks to the one’s that came before him, his mentor Bob Childers, and sang almost every song you could think of. He even played a Billy Joe Shaver cover of “Thunderbird”. It seems that there was nothing else that Boland and the Stragglers where destine to do as there first album Pearl Snaps sparked a huge fallowing. Even their recent album, “Comal County Blue”, garnered them national attention. As most of should know, this is a bittersweet time for Boland as almost a year ago he had a surgery to repair a blown out vocal cord that almost ended his career.
The last band of the night was none other than Cross Canadian Ragweed, who just finished recording their new album Mission California with many of the faces we have come know and love in this music scene we have down here. The self-proclaimed “drunkest, loudest, assholes in Nashville” were by far one of my favorite acts to catch all weekend. It seems like every show they surprise you with something. We even got a little variety, with guest vocal appearances by Jason Boland and Jon Cooper (Red Dirt Rangers) singing along with Ragweed on “Boys from Oklahoma”.
And how could we forget the most entertaining side stages of the week as well, with Oklahoma troubadour Travis Linville and Atoka native who has been drawing a lot of attention from Nashville, Shawna Russell, and a riveting performance I almost missed by Seth James.
I can’t forget about these guys either and that is the Bart Crow Band whom I joked around with about starting a “Bart Crow Band Should Be On the Main Stage, He-Man, Woman Haters Club”. The new album Bart Crow was working on is still in the mix as you read this. Giving credit to radio and the fans for spinning everything they could and how much people are catching on to this red dirt (or whatever someone decides label it this week) was just a few of things Bart Crow had to say in our much delayed interview. After arguably the best intro any band had all night, the Bart Crow Band won the rowdy crowd over playing all the hits from their latest album, Desperate Hearts. I almost didn’t make it back to my hotel. I contemplated hitting the road with the band and just introducing them everywhere they go.
Well, that’s it. I’m going to try this thing they call swimming a little bit this weekend and of course bring you a new update from the road very soon.
After failing to scrounge up some Texas Mardi Gras tickets, I decided to head to my favorite saloon…The Wormy Dog to check out Aaron Watson. I have been meaning to catch one of his full length show’s. Last time I saw Watson, he opened for Big & Rich, so called “next big act” Lo Cash Cowboys (what a joke) and halfway through the show all the Aaron Watson fans had cleared out. I’m not sure if that’s because they loved Aaron Watson and he had already played or if they didn’t like bad music. Probably both.
Aaron Watson is one of those guys that oozing with Texas music talent. His music is honky-tonk through and through and with his eighth album Angels and Outlaws under his own independent label, Big Label Records, I knew his set would be solid. With honky-tonk songs like “Love Makin’ Song”, “3rd Gear and 17″ and crowd favorite “Reckless” Aaron Watson kept the ground in it from start to finish.
If you have a chance to see Aaron Watson go do it! There is no absence of steel guitars and fiddling in this show, just the way country music should be. I’m glad I brought my dancing boots for this one. Whether it was one of his infamous honky-tonk, steel guitar driven songs that make you want to just dance and twirl the night away or a slow dance with “Off The Record” or his top 10 song on the Texas Music Charts: Top 50 Songs of 2008 album “Hearts Are Breaking Across Texas”, Aaron Watson knows how to put on a show. Not only did he take requests from fans, but like every good country singer/song writer he has a song about his granddad “Barbed Wire Halo“, my personal favorite.
Well, I need to run to store and pick up some more Coke for my whiskey since, here in this small town, everything shuts down at 11p.m. So, I’m signing off to ride into the sunset once again till next time.