Aaron Watson rocks rowdy cowboy crowd at Birchmere

The independent country star is on his Amarillo Dance Hall Tour

The fiddle and banjo made the whole room shake as Aaron Watson took the stage at Birchmere in Alexandria, VA on Thursday night (Feb 8th).

Watson brought his entire stage show set up, light rig and risers included, the intimate 600-seat listening club. The effect was a night of music that was felt as much as heard by the packed crowd. The place breathed with Watson’s authentic brand of country music.

Authenticity also poured from the stage in the form of his banter with the crowd. He used an Instagram message from a fan in attendance to talk about losing his voice the night before. He told the audience that he had an “anxiety attack” over the possibility of canceling on people traveling from out of town, like the Instagram messenger and her family did. He asked his band to lower the musical keys on the setlist, and any vocal issues went unnoticed.

Watson’s brand of country runs the gamut from the electric-driven rocker “Run Wild Horses” to the motor-mouthed and twangy “Freight Train.”

Patriotic “Dog Tags” saw the stage lights go down, and phone flashlights go up in recognition and thanks to veterans and first responders. Watson followed that up with an emotional acoustic “Bluebonnets,” the request from that aforementioned family. It wasn’t in the setlist. Watson is a man of his people.

Showroom opener Jenna Paulette returned for a rousing “Callin’ Baton Rouge” cover. Paulette earlier delivered an opening set of originals and covers that earned her a standing ovation. Paulette performed “Darlin’” from her forthcoming album, her first as a label-signed artist. She announced the record deal from the stage and was visibly taken aback by the prolonged, loud cheering it evoked from 600 of her newest and suddenly biggest fans. There’s something special about Jenna Paulette. Watch out for her.

Watson came back and kept the revved-up banjo going with a “Kiss That Girl Goodbye” mashup with “I Will Wait For You.” Oh, and you haven’t lived till you’ve heard “Thunderstruck” on a banjo. Seriously.

After a cover-heavy jam session hitting everyone from Charlie Daniels to Watson’s fellow Texan George Strait, the group plowed through “Reckless” and the hit song “Outta Time.” They ended on a traditional note, with a cover Eddie Money’s “Two Tickets to Paradise.”

A few mentions were made about the concert at Birchmere being a “seated show.” But the cowboy-hatted crowd at Birchmere was as rowdy as any GA venue. By the end of the night, they had abandoned their tables and chairs and turned the place into a real Amarillo Dance Hall.

Matt Bailey
Matt Bailey

Matt Bailey is podcast producer and writer located in the Northeast. Since 2013, Bailey has produced more than 160 episodes of his own online radio show, Talk For Two. In 2016 alone, he interviewed Kevin Bacon, Crystal Gayle, Bob Barker, and Gilbert Gottfried, among several other stars. As a Correspondent for The Music Universe, his focus is Broadway, country music and concert reviews.

Email: matt@themusicuniverse.com