Aaron Watson is one of the rare artists that can front a band with a heavy dose of fiddle and steel and still appeal to a rowdy, loud Texas Country audience.
On Friday night at Big Texas Dancehall & Saloon in Spring, Watson showed why he's one of the state's most consistent hitmakers.
Backed by his five-piece Orphans of The Brazos Band (great name for a band), the Abilene native regularly let fiddler, Damien Green, take fiddle solos.
Watson makes no bones about the fact that his music is unabashedly country. He told the audience that OOTB is not a rock and roll band, and they don't do encores, because people pay their hard-earned money to see a show, and they shouldn't have to beg for more.
An interesting take on it. Watson definitely satisfied the audience's appetite with a 1 hour, 40 minute performance.
Watson has a new album coming out this summer, and the first single will be "The Road," an uptempo song about making decisions.
More than most artists, Watson constantly mentions his family. He talked about the birth of his third child (first daughter) and joked that all of the money he makes touring goes to his wife - not some big record label.
While it was nice to get a glimpse into the man behind the music, he didn't overdo it.
He also told stories before a lot of the songs, like "Angels and Outlaws," which was inspired by Johnny Cash, who credited June Carter and Jesus with saving his life.
Watson dedicated Merle Haggard's "Silver Wings," a song he recorded on a live album a couple of years ago, to US Troops.
It's difficult to find a song that would be considered more of a barnburner than "Heyday Tonight," and there weren't any of them.
But a pair of trucker songs - "Diesel Drivin' Daddy" and "Breaker, Breaker 19" - came close. Few artists are cutting trucker songs these days, but count Watson among them.
He also recorded the late Jerry Reed's "East Bound and Down" on his live album released last fall, but he didn't perform it on Friday night.
Then, there's the "chick songs" as Watson calls his ballads.
"Next To Heaven," which he wrote for his wife is probably his best one, but the most popular one is "Off The Record," which is about a man who still loves his wife - despite their pending divorce.
"Reckless" - a story of young love - is Watson's most popular song, and it definitely got the biggest response of the evening.
It should be interesting to see if more Texas Music artists follow Watson's lead of playing straight-ahead traditional country. Not everyone can perform that type of music and translate it into success with the Texas Country crowd.
It just proves that if someone stays true to their roots and performs their music well, the Texas Country audience will welcome them.