Aaron Watson – Mercury Lounge, New York City – May 13, 2015
Last night, one of Texas’ finest entertainers brought his act to New York City for the very first time. Aaron Watson and his band put forth a spirited and active hour and a half set, full of stories and songs that showcase exactly who he is and where he comes from. As the title of his album, The Underdog, suggests, Aaron certainly has proved all of his naysayers wrong recently, by becoming the first independent artist in Billboard Chart history to have the #1 Country Album and headlining a show in the Big Apple. It was a special night capped by a phenomenal show.
It was my first ever Aaron Watson live concert experience despite listening to his songs for many years. I had the chance to interview Aaron last week (see: http://millertimemusicspot.com/whos-next-aaron-watson/) and he is easily one of the most humble and real artists I’ve ever met. His live show matched his personality as he was full of smiles and energy throughout. He spoke genuinely about the stories behind the songs he has written. Whether it was “That Look” that he wrote for his wife or “July in Cheyenne” after losing his baby daughter, the openness that he has with his fans is truly second to none.
More than anything, Aaron was born to perform. He was a true showman as he worked the stage, backed by his bombastic band highlighted by a very talented fiddler. Aaron posed for pictures, interacted with fans, and even stripped it down for an acoustic set full of deep cuts from his 10 plus years making music. A nice touch was the fact he was wearing a Babe Ruth shirt which kicked off some “let’s go Yankees” chants by the raucous Big Apple crowd.
And the set list jumped around without missing any era of his discography. Whether it was “Freight Train” or “Fencepost” from the new album or “Summertime Girl” or “Real Good Man” from his past, the crowd seemingly knew every word. Women were square dancing in the corner as the men raised their beers and whiskey during the Military Anthem “Raise Your Bottle”. As the night went on and Aaron sang song after song, it was clear that he had the New York City crowd in the palm of his hand.
There is something to be said for an artist who tries his hand at his dream and is told he cannot be something or should give up. That was exactly the case many years ago when Aaron went to Nashville, Tennessee. Lucky for all of us, Aaron bucked the odds and kept working at his craft. On “Fence Post” he described that very story and everyone in the crowded clapped and nodded along in approval. Aaron described that song as his “sticking it to the man” song and it was clear everyone in that building that night could relate to it somehow.
Aaron vowed to return to New York City again as it appeared that his set had to be cut short due to venue time restrictions. After the show he made good on his statement that he would wait out and meet every single fan who attended the show. Not many artists show the graciousness and respect he does to his fans. I hope this is just the beginning of Aaron Watson traveling out to the Northeast as everyone should rush out to see the Honky-Tonk-Kid with the Underdog Success Story.