When it comes to transcribing interviews, I’m a terrible procrastinator.
So it wasn’t until Spring 2011 that I sat down to relive the interview I’d done with the great Texan honky-tonker Dale Watson the previous September for my MA dissertation about ‘Male Dress and The Performance of Country Music’. A gift of a subject if ever there was one!
This time, I laughed all through the transcription. Although I’ve interviewed lots of musicians about their work over the years, I was slightly daunted when it came to asking them about their clothes. After all, a lot of guys, in whatever profession, prefer to give the impression they don’t pay much attention to what they wear.
But in Dale’s case, I needn’t have worried – a passing enquiry about where he had bought the patent leather boots I’d often noticed him wear onstage resulted in a hilarious story, told with faultless comic timing, involving an ‘overwhelming feeling’ of longing for a pair of patent, pointed-toe boots and a visit to an ancient Australian shoemaker, who happened to have a pair in exactly the right size that had been commissioned in the 1960s by a customer who never collected them . It’s the only tale of fate and destiny involving patent leather Beatle boots I have ever heard, and I was thoroughly entertained by it. As well as being a lot of fun, the interview was full of insights – there were a few priceless quotes in there that I’ve used in everything I’ve written on the subject since.
Now, I thought myself pretty cool to be sitting aboard Dale Watson’s tour bus in the car park of The Mercy Lounge, Nashville, asking him questions about his clothes, but another level of self-satisfaction was added when I discovered that this was a vintage bus that had once belonged to Ray Price. To prove it, there was a mirror right behind Dale’s head, etched with a camp fire scene that illustrated ol’ Ray’s band’s name, ‘The Cherokee Cowboys’.
I love Ray Price’s voice even more than I love his Cherokee-themed Nudie suits, so it was a thrill to be sitting opposite the bench where he’d slept when out on tour, drinking my very first bottle of Lone Star and listening to Dale Watson talk. Incidentally, here’s a link to a great live version of the love song to Lone Star beer that Dale had just recorded back in 2010.
Hey Brown Bottle: Dale Watson & His Lone Stars
During the interview, Dale told me that for some time he’d been looking for a vintage ruffled shirt with white edges to the ruffles. I made up my mind there and then to make him one and hand it over next time he came to the UK. I wanted to say thanks for his help – making a good job of that MA project meant the world to me and I’ll always be grateful to the musicians who gave up their time – Dale, Marty Stuart and Jim Lauderdale.
And besides – I’m such a fangirl when it comes to Dale! I knew what a thrill it would be to see him in one of my shirts.
The shirt’s not in the usual Dandy & Rose style and presented a bit of what they call in ‘The Great British Bake Off’ a ‘technical challenge’, but I had fun making it and when he made this face as he took it out of the box…
…I knew it had been worthwhile!
And of course, it was very special to see him wear it during in his great set at the Ace Cafe, London later that evening. Thanks, Dale!
Patent boots and a ruffled shirt! Now that’s what I call a dandy!