Monday, April 10, 2017

Dale Watson & Ray Benson at City Winery

A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ray Benson formed western swing band Asleep at the Wheel in 1970 and in 1973 took the advice of Willie Nelson and relocated the band to Austin, Texas. Traditionalist country music artist Dale Watson, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, grew up outside of Pasadena, Texas, and was based in Houston, Los Angeles and Nashville before settling in Austin. Since both musicians were based in the same town, it seemed inevitable that the two would eventually record together an album of vintage-sounding country music. Dale & Ray was released on January 6, 2017.

At City Winery, it became clear almost immediately that there would be as much joking as singing during the show, as the lively camaraderie between Dale Watson and Ray Benson led to more corny punch lines than an old-time episode of Hee-Haw. Fortunately, their larger-than-life personalities did not overshadow their music, but actually gave the songs a context. For instance, the audience learned that Watson bought a tour bus from Benson, but it turned out to be a lemon; instead of a bad deal turning their relationship sour, it inspired a tongue-in-cheek song, "Bus Breakdown." The two baritones sang well, both separately and together, and led their band through original songs and covers of the Louvin Brothers' "I Wish I Knew," Bob Wills' "Take Me Back to Tulsa," Merle Haggard's "Misery and Gin," Willie Nelson's "Write Your Own Songs" and others. The set was light and whimsical, occasionally a little naughty, with a deliberately unfiltered Texas swagger.

Visit Dale Watson & Ray Benson at

  1. (Unknown) (instrumental Dale & Ray band)
  2. Johnny's Theme (Johnny Carson cover) (Dale & Ray introduction)
  3. I Wish You Knew (The Louvin Brothers cover)
  4. The Ballad of Dale and Ray
  5. "Lone Star Beer commercial"
  6. Bus' Breakdown
  7. Take Me Back to Tulsa (Bob Wills cover)
  8. Feelin' Haggard
  9. Misery and Gin (Merle Haggard cover)
  10. Jonesin' for Jones (Dale Watson song)
  11. Sittin' and Thinkin' About You
  12. A Hangover Ago
  13. Cryin' to Cryin' Time Again
  14. Forget About Tomorrow Today
  15. Write Your Own Songs (Willie Nelson cover)
  16. South of Round Rock, Texas (Dale Watson song)
  17. Miles and Miles of Texas (Asleep at the Wheel cover)
  18. Carryin' on This Way (Dale Watson song)
  19. Route 66 (Bobby Troup cover)
  20. I Lie When I Drink (Dale Watson song)
  21. Hot Rod Lincoln (Charlie Ryan cover)
  22. Johnny's Theme (Johnny Carson cover) (band outro)

  1. Big Balls in Cowtown (Bob Wills cover)
  2. Truckin' Man (Dale Watson song)
  3. Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way (Waylon Jennings cover)
  4. Johnny's Theme (Johnny Carson cover) (band outro)