I didn't go to the show to review it, I just went as a fan. Which meant I didn't bring anything - no journal to note things in, and no camera... (although, silly fan here, I didn't bring anything new for him to sign); and oh, didn't Dale look amazing! I was regretting the lack of a camera right from the start. Last time he was here, he had the plain vest showing off his tattoo "sleeves." This time, he was decked out as a Texas gentleman. And how could I not review, just a little, one of the best shows I've seen in an age?
Or maybe the best - it's been a while since one of the good ol' honky-tonkers has been around these parts. Since Dave Insley left the valley, the pickings have been slim. (Now, that's not entirely fair or true, but I'm old and picky and work early mornings... and so many places around here only showcase Americana artists on Tuesdays and Wednesdays... excuses, excuses...)
Dale showed up pretty much spot on at 8:30, looking slick in his ruffled shirt and fine black coat (much like the cover of From the Cradle to the Grave), and laid down some fine tunes (he started with "Whiskey or God"), taking requests from the audience immediately ("What'd'ya wanna hear?") and playing for a full hour and a half, interspersing songs with fun chat and stories (he's funny - lifting each shot of tequila with a very sincere, "Now, I don't drink normally, but...") before he took a little break. He signed autographs and posed for pictures (argh! I should have remembered the camera! I could have added another portrait to my collection!), talking with folks for about twenty minutes or so before he took to the stage again, and played ANOTHER hour -
And like all great performers, he still left us wanting more. He wasn't even able to get to his two new singles, "Hollywood Hillbilly" or "And Justice For All" - although he tried to perform the latter, a couple of times, but he was always willing to do whatever song someone called out instead, and before you knew it, the show was over. He was fun, he was personable, and most of all, he was COUNTRY.
Now I know Dale doesn't call his music country anymore to avoid being associated with what they're calling "country" these days, and really, who can blame him? (As he said, he can't tell the difference between Britney Spears and Carrie Underwood or Faith Hill and Celine Dion - boy, ain't that the truth? But to me, country music will always be what Dale does - like a few of the boys out there singing real country music (all his fellow Austinites, like Roger Wallace, and my relocated boy Dave Insley, or Houston shitkicker Jesse Dayton), and I will call it country. They can't take THAT away from me!
I want, need, MUST get to Austin. I want to go to Ginny's Little Longhorn and the Broken Spoke. I want to go where "country music is alive and kickin' every night." I'm so glad the Rhythm Room had a great crowd last night - lots of folks whoopin' and hollerin' (and even some folks who followed him in from Austin).
Dale was a true gentleman and remembered me, even though we've only met twice; but the first time I saw him (at the Cajun House, in Scottsdale), there was no crowd and it seemed like coming to Phoenix was a waste for him. Thank goodness for the Rhythm Room! (I have to note that if it weren't for Dale, I wouldn't even know Dave Insley - opening for Dale that night back in 2002 was a group called Trophy Husbands, who, despite only releasing two albums, remain one of my favorites of all time. One of their number was Dave. I found him just before the release of his first solo album because I was looking to see what they'd been up to.)
Anyway, I really can't run off to these shows without a camera. Man, Dale looked good. And he sounded better. This picture was snagged from Dale's MySpace page - it's pretty much taken exactly from where I was sitting (although not at the same gig); this is the basic view I had:
I really am sorry I didn't bring the camera. Mostly I didn't because we haven't gotten around to getting a new battery (theoretically, it can take plain AA, but that wouldn't be rechargeable), and it doesn't really hold a charge very long anymore.
ANYWAY, if anyone out there really enjoys good music, check Dale out. And if he comes by your place, do yourself a favor and go!!! He's FUN. And good.