Versatile Watson will gladly play your wedding 

click to enlarge Dale Watson, second from left, whose latest recording is "El Rancho Azul," is championing a genre he calls "Ameripolitan." - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Dale Watson, second from left, whose latest recording is "El Rancho Azul," is championing a genre he calls "Ameripolitan."

Ever since his hickory-smoked 1995 debut, "Cheatin Heart Attack," Austin, Texas-based roadhouse renegade Dale Watson has traded in the traditional tear-in-your-beer-isms of vintage country, rockabilly and honky tonk.

He has tracked an album of Red Sovine-school truck-driving anthems (1998's "The Trucking Sessions") and finally recorded at his dream location, Sun Studios in Memphis, Tenn., for 2011's "The Sun Sessions."

His new recent-divorce-documenting "El Rancho Azul" follows heartbroken suit with "Smoky Old Bar," "Thanks to Tequila," "Drink Drink Drink," "I Drink to Remember" and a new concert favorite, "I Lie When I Drink."

But there's an anomaly on the recording, which Watson will dip into in concert in San Francisco this week. "Daughter's Wedding Song" is a father's touching tribute to his little girl as she walks down the aisle.

But before fans get all mushy, Watson sets the record straight. His own two kids, Grace, 15, and Raquel, 20, are not married. "Thankfully!" he says, with a sigh of relief.

"I wrote that song because I do a lot of weddings when I'm home in Texas — actually all over," he says. "And not only is the money good, it's my favorite type of private function to play."

There's a bonus if you book this purist for your nuptials. He also just happens to be an ordained minister.

"So I've married people, about 20 couples at this point," he says.

Often, engaged paramours that first met at Watson's shows ask him to oversee their ceremony and then play the reception.

"So you get to see relationships evolve from a first date to a wedding, and sometimes years later, you get to meet their kids. It's a lot of fun," he says.

The reverend's most elaborate rite was one held at a sprawling country club in Virginia.

"There were ice sculptures everywhere, tons of lobster and steak. It was like something out of some insane movie," he says.

But don't believe the easy-pickup pickings depicted in the film "Wedding Crashers," he adds: "Because everybody's usually coupled up at weddings."

Watson doesn't take requests, either.

"They know they're not going to get 'Louie Louie' or any Top 40 stuff out of me. But luckily, with the type of music I do, we've got lots of love songs," he says.

Watson, 50, sees Nashville, Tenn., as emasculated, disconnected from its hillbilly roots. So he's championing a new genre called "Ameripolitan," with a kickoff awards show scheduled in February in Austin.

All he needs now, he chuckles, are business cards touting his availability for bars, weddings, bar mitzvahs. "Hey, I'll play a bris — I don't care!" he says. "I'll play songs about cutting things up. Or maybe I'll just do 'Mack the Knife'!"

IF YOU GO

Dale Watson

Opening for Old Crow Medicine Show

Where: Warfield, 982 Market St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Thursday

Tickets: $35 to $47

Contact: (415) 673-4653, www.axs.com

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Tom Lanham

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