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Dale Watson lives in dreamland

By Jon Johnson, June 2004

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Co-starring in "Austin Angel" will be Martin Sheen, the star of classic '70s films like "Badlands" and "Apocalypse Now," and whose career is currently enjoying a new lease on life in the popular TV drama "The West Wing," in which he stars as President Josh Bartlett. No stranger to Mephistophelean roles, though, Sheen will be playing Lucifer in "Austin Angel."

"It's a story about a country singer who sells his soul to the devil, but not to get fame or anything. It's to save his daughter. There's bunches of twists in there. It's really a great story. I'm just glad to be a part of the project."

Given the fact that Watson himself has a daughter, the role seems tailor-made for Watson. Even more interesting, though, is the fact that he included a song called "I'd Deal With the Devil" on an album dedicated to the memory of his girlfriend Terri Herbert, who died in a 2000 auto accident.

Following her death, Watson's personal life entered a brief, but well-publicized tailspin. Fortunately for Watson, he managed to pull himself back together and worked through his grief by recording 2001's "Every Song I Write Is For You," which Watson considers his favorite and will quite possibly be regarded as his career album when all is said and done. At the very least, it's hard to picture Watson baring his soul in quite such a public manner again.

Watson still clearly misses Herbert (the new album's "I Wish You'd Come Around" is about her), but has generally managed to move on with his life. Still, now that some time has passed Watson is trying to clear up the oft reported, but incorrect perception that he and Herbert were engaged at the time of her death.

"That's one thing I'm trying to make clear because her friends and family read a lot of those articles that came out then that said we were engaged, and they wondered why she hadn't told them something like that. So I've been wanting to clear that up."

Watson manages to keep busy when off the road, regularly performing around Austin and doing a little studio work. In addition, Watson recently produced an album for the Austin group the Gospelaires.

A longtime road warrior, Watson - whose current road band features steel guitarist Don Pawlak, bassist Gene Kurtz and drummer Herb Belofsky - has cut back on his live schedule of late. That is partly because of his commitment to "Austin Angel" and partly because the nature of touring has changed in recent years, though Watson is a far better known performer in Europe and in Australia than he is in the U.S.

"The music industry is different (now)," says Watson. "It isn't like it was in '95 or '94. When I hit the road it's a lot harder, mainly because a lot of the clubs aren't there anymore. Also this year, I've had to make myself available for the movie. We were originally going to start shooting around May and June, then that got pushed back to September."

"There are a lot of things that kept me off the road this year. With this new album we'll be hitting it pretty hard this summer, though."

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