Dale Watson: Trucking Music Isn’t Dead

Singer-Songwriter Dale Watson: Trucking Music Isn’t Dead
you’re thinking of calling Dale Watson a country singer, think again.
On the cover of the singer-songwriter’s recently released 3-CD box set
entitled The Truckin’ Sessions Trilogy is a sticker that says “File Under Ameripolitan.” So, what exactly does that mean?     
don’t even call it country music that I do anymore. Most people think
of traditional country music as Brad Paisley and Alan Jackson, which is
fine — there’s nothing wrong with it. I’ve been a champion of this
genre called ‘Ameripolitan’ — which are people that are
roots-influenced, but not Americana, which is traditional music with
folk and rock influence,” Watson tells Billboard.              
roots start with Jimmie Rodgers, and go on to Hank Williams. Fans today
of what they call traditional country don’t even know who Jimmie
Rodgers or Hank Williams are. That’s why we don’t fit that mold.”       
The Truckin’
Sessions set — a collection of three discs Watson has recorded over
the years under the Truckin’ Sessions moniker — was inspired by the men
and women driving big rigs across the nation. “When I did the first
one, I brought it to (former record label) Hightone and they said,
‘Trucking albums are history.’ It ended up being the longest-lived
record I’ve had. It still sells,” says Watson. “The audience I didn’t
expect to have with it is women. They’ve bought it and like it. It
surprises the heck out of me, but they will listen to it while they are
Texas-raised Watson — whose father was a trucker — says he got the
idea for the series during a truck-stop tour. “I was playing trucker
appreciation days at all these truck stops to help with raising money to
help find missing children,” he says. “I got to follow a truck around
for the whole tour, and do some shows on the side.” That tour brought
back nostalgic memories of Watson’s journeys with his dad when he was a
kid. “We traveled the same roads and tried to eat at the same
restaurants,” he recalls. “If we slept at a motel, we tried to stay at
the same ones.”       
the newer cuts in the Truckin’ Sessions collection, Watson is excited
about “Freewheelin,” where his fans got to help out with the creative
process. “We were at SiriusXM doing the Road Dog show. They came up with
the idea where people would call in and made suggestions on lines. So,
we tried it,” he says. “Truck drivers are very creative. You’ve got a
lot of closet singer-songwriters out there.           
new set also contains a rarity — a male/female trucking duet, “We’re
Truckin’ Along,” with Texas favorite Amber Digby, of whom Watson is a
fan. “She is so fantastic,” he says. “There’s two things I have on the
CD that I don’t remember hearing: a trucker waltz and a trucker duet.
That’s why we did ‘I’m A Truckin’’ as a waltz, and the duet with Amber.”
songs like “Six Days On The Road,” made famous by singer Dave Dudley in
the early ’60s, and Del Reeves’ “Girl On The Billboard” are no longer
radio fare these days, Watson says there is still a group of listeners
who identify with the songs — though there are some differences.
“You’ll probably see a lot more on the road today, as you have so many
women truck drivers, as well as husband and wife teams,” he explains. “I
think there are more truck drivers now than ever.”       
what they’re listening to has changed as well. “It used to be that they
wanted to hear just country music, but nowadays it could be acid rock,
hip-hop, a little bit of everything. But, even if they like another
genre, I think that these songs have an appeal to them too,” says
Watson. “It’s pretty much about them and their life, which no other
genre really caters to.”

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