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Watson remains the real deal

Altar Bar, Pittsburgh, January 16, 2015

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

Other recent concert reviews
By Michael Rampa

Even Dale Watson's empty stage emits a hyper-masculine traditional country vibe. His custom Tompkins guitar is flanked by a single monitor atop a milk crate and a pedal steel. But the seemingly modest arsenal turns into a wall of sound behind the marvelous Lonestars band.

Emerging in his signature all black garb, Watson looked like a hybrid of Elvis and the Fonz laced with a huge dash of Cash.

The Texan seemed to be in light spirits this evening and sprinkled in a significant percentage of drinking and fun numbers into the 11-song set. After a humorous toast promoting Lone Star beer, he ripped into "Little Brown Bottle" and set the tone for an evening of traditional country that resonated with a demographic ranging from staunch classic fans to hipsters and Goth kids.

His amalgam of styles has been dubbed "Ameripolitan," incorporating Texas swing, rockabilly honky tonk and outlaw country. He and the Lonestars showcased them all in a tight set that was frequently interrupted by his trademark riffing on random topics and downing tequilas shots sent by crowd members. It was especially fitting as a prelude to his hit "I Lie When I Drink." He kept the youth engaged with fun numbers like "Don't Let the Screen Door Hit Ya." And his response to Blake Shelton's accusations on musicians of his generation, "I'd Rather Be An Old Fart."

With his silver pompadour and black duster, he has been accused as being an over the top caricature of the genre and even "too country for country."

Wardrobe choices aside, he proved that he is the real deal, and when it comes to tradition, sometimes you can't get too much of a good thing.

Opener Rosie Flores was allotted a mere 25 minutes, which proved to be just enough time to showcase her impressive guitar skills. She later joined Watson in on a duet of "God May Forgive You."

Reverend Horton Heat rounded out the evening with their amped up trademark psychobilly that sent almost as many fans to the exit doors as it did in enticing the remainder of those in attendance.