A far cry from the dry Texas heat; The Garage is always a little fridge-like, and probably did nothing to help Aaron Watson’s mild cold.
Honey Ryder gently warmed up the audience on a chilly January evening, Lindsay O’Mahony spoke of shaking lemons and tight buttocks to a semi attentive crowd of Stetson hatted, checked shirted, Harley Davidson T-wearing, bearded, beer bellied, beer-fisted buckaroos who were half listening and half horsing around in front of their gals.
Yep, Americana had hit dreary old Islington and we were all the better for it.
Despite the sniffles, James Aaron Watson hit the Garage stage like the proverbial freight train. This show, this tour, wasn’t just about his latest offering Vaquero, which is set for general release this month, although it could have well been, as it offers up no less than sixteen new songs. Watson is a workhorse, has amassed a very impressive back catalogue, and peppered the set with some of the strongest tracks from past albums.
Aaron Watson stands shoulder to shoulder with Country music’s great storytellers, mixing modern and traditional styles, which lends a genuine heartfelt depth of emotion to the tracks. He tells the audience of his father being disabled in Vietnam, observations of his wife, his love for his children and his faith in God. All these things are reflected in his songwriting: some soul searching melodies, some tear jerking ballads, a brush stroke of nostalgia here and there mixed up with some good old uptempo foot stomping feelgood classics.
I’d been listening to the aforementioned Vaquero on replay in the bath all the previous week, picking out tracks for this year’s American road trip. Outta Style was definitely in there, a standout track that had me splashing in the tub and The Garage audience bopping around the dance floor. Another personal highlight was the thought-provoking Bluebonnets, taken from his ground breaking The Underdog album.
The band played sweetly and Aaron Watson sang proudly, swiftly reminding us we’re only here for a little while and to make the most of every mile. Something we can all raise a bottle to.
Photos by Carl Byron Batson. Not to be reproduced without express prior permission.