Celtic Connections review: Dale Watson & his Lone Stars, Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow

Celtic Connections 2018
Celtic Connections 2018
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AS ONE of their guest artists, James Grant, succinctly put it, Dale Watson & his Lone Stars are “the real deal”, an Austin-based old school country outfit cleaving to honky tonk and rockabilly at a time when much of Nashville is moving in a bland pop direction.

Dale Watson & his Lone Stars, Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow ****

The brilliantly bouffanted Watson poured his concern for an ailing musical tradition into the lachrymose waltz Play A Real Country Song, on which he lamented “pretty soon there’s gonna be no country legends walking here among us”. Just to reinforce the point, his opening set of originals also included fond tributes to Merle Haggard and George Jones.

But the main business of the evening was his homage to Johnny Cash, in particular the two 1968 concerts captured on the Live At Folsom Prison album. This was no time for a fresh spin on the Cash legacy, more a celebration of the loose spirit and raw soul of the music in front of a captive rather than incarcerated audience.

Rab Noakes, having a very busy Celtic Connections, kicked off the guest cameos with a Dylanesque take on Dark As A Dungeon and a rocking cautionary Cocaine Blues, while James Grant gleefully channeled Elvis on Green Green Grass of Home. There was an all too brief taster of young buck country rocker Aaron Lee Tasjan before all three guests returned for a roistering Folsom Prison Blues with Don Pawlak on pedal steel providing that lonesome whistle.