After being sidelined by a vocal cord injury for three months, independent country artist Aaron Watson put on a high-energy, fan-engaging show at Nashville’s Brooklyn Bowl on Friday night (Aug. 26).
“I took a little three month vacation and had vocal cord surgery,” Watson said early on in the show. “So I’m happy to be here. I can’t wipe the smile from my face.”
Watson hadn’t performed in Nashville in over two years and was welcomed to a packed and lively crowd. Though needing to take a few breaks in between songs to rest his voice, Watson delivered an array of fan-favorites, including “Freight Train,” “July in Cheyenne,” and “Outta Style,” along with a handful of covers.
The night kicked off with opening act and up-and-coming Texas artist Erin Kinsey who wowed fans with her impressive guitar skills and performances of her popular songs “Just Drive” and “Vegas.” She played a handful of unreleased tunes for the Nashville crowd, which received warm reactions.
Watson later praised Kinsey for her talent and her TikTok rendition of “Outta Style.” “I’ll probably be opening up for you one day,” Watson noted. “Just remember us, girl. Y’all check her out, she’s awesome. I’m excited to have shared the stage with her tonight.”
Watson hit the stage, opening with his single and current blue collar anthem “Cheap Seats” from his 2022 record Unwanted Man. The song emphasizes his journey as an independent artist, having always been a fan-first entertainer.
Despite his recent surgery, Watson sounded great with his band of many years backing his huge repertoire of songs.
He got the Nashville crowd into the show immediately by playing fan-favorites “Boots,” “Wild Fire,” and “Silverado Saturday Night.” In between breaks to rest his voice, Watson acknowledged that his doctor, who performed surgery on his vocal cords, was at the show.
“If you’ve been to my shows, you know I’m usually one song after the other, but I have to take time to hydrate my vocal cords,” he explained. “I got the doc here tonight watching me and I’m [telling myself], ‘You better stop in between these songs and take a drink of water or he’s going to get pissed.'”
Watson made the show even more intimate, talking to fans on the floor, especially those hailing from the Lone Star state. He even took some deep cut requests such as “Shut Up And Dance” from his 2003 record of the same name, and thanked Friday night’s audience for being a real ‘honky tonk’ crowd.
“A lot of times playing in Nashville isn’t my favorite because it’s stressful. [When you’re here], you have meetings and a lot people show up in suits,” Watson said. “A true honky tonk crowd showed up tonight and that makes me so happy.”
Later in the night, he slowed things down to honor the veterans with his song “Dog Tags,” which he wrote for his father who is a wounded war veteran. He asked every fan to shine their phone lights to show the veterans in the crowd support and bring attention to the mental illness struggle in the veteran community.
“My dad is my hero. This was a song that was easy for me to write because it was something that came from the heart,” he shared. “I spent a lot of time at the VA hospital in Amarillo where I grew up, so at a very early age I developed a great amount of love and respect for the men and women that serve this great nation.”
Watson continued the theme of honoring those he loved and looked up to with “Amazing Grace” followed by “Barbed Wire Halo.”
He finished with his song about legendary bull rider Lane Frost on “July in Cheyenne.” He wrote the song about Frost while he and his wife were struggling with the loss of their newborn daughter. He emphasized his Christian faith leading him through this dark time as it had for Frost’s mother.
“Lane’s mom said something that hit me right here,” Watson said while pointing to his heart. “It got me refocused on the bigger picture… I wrote this song as a thank you, but I think God inspired me to write this song and share my story with y’all.”
After his tribute to the late rodeo cowboy, Watson let his band go off and play a medley of country, pop and rock songs, which included Alan Jackson’s “Chattahoochee,” Alabama’s “Dixie Land Delight,” George Strait’s “Amarillo By Morning,” AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” The White Stripe’s “Seven Nation Army” and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.”
He ended his show with his monster top 10 hit “Outta Style,” where he thanked his fans for making it a country radio hit without the help of a major label. Watson capped off the night by staying late and giving out hugs and selfies at his merch table.
Watson hits the road again on Sept. 2 when he plays Bellvue, Colorado and will be back on track to finish his 2022 tour throughout the south and west.
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