Kingsport Times News Friday, August 28, 2015

Gene Watson to play the Paramount

November 14th, 2011 9:32 pm by staff report

He’s scored more then 72 charted songs, including 23 Top 10s and six No. 1 hits over his 40-year career, and is regarded as one of country music’s best ballad singers, in the same league as country icons George Jones, Merle Haggard and Vern Gosdin.

It’s no surprise, then, that such artists as Vince Gill, Lee Ann Womack, Trace Adkins, Connie Smith, Joe Nichols and Alison Krauss are not only happy but also eager to record with legendary performer Gene Watson.

Watson will perform at 3 p.m., Sunday at the Paramount Center for the Arts in Bristol. Tickets are $18 in advance and $25 at the door.

Watson joined with “Queen of Bluegrass” Rhonda Vincent to release “Your Money and My Good Looks” in June on Vincent’s Upper Management Music label. Watson boasts a light ingratiating country tenor, while Vincent is a more strident alto, resulting in a duet not unlike the classic sound of George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Watson and Vincent hark back to that duo by turning in a traditional country effort, the fiddle-and-steel-guitar-dominated arrangements suggesting the record could have been made any time since the 1950s.

The two singers portray romantic couples of various stripes, starting with the comic and adventurous duo who meet in a bar in the title song, and including romantic partners whose love has gone stale (“Gone for Good,” “You Could Know as Much About a Stranger”); who proclaim their long-term devotion “Till the End”; who are making the usual moves late at night in a honky tonk (“Alone Together Tonight”); and who are each cheating on a spouse (“Out of Hand”). They demonstrate their blues chops on the old Hank Williams classic “My Sweet Love Ain’t Around.”

The album features a bonus track, the bluegrass instrumental “Ashes of Mt. Augustine,” featuring Michael Rojas, Stuart Duncan, Mike Johnson, Michael Rhodes and James Mitchell.

Born in Palestine, Texas, in 1943, Watson was singing in holiness churches with his family at an early age.

His father played blues harmonica and guitar alongside African-American field laborers. Watson grew up loving both bluesman Jimmy Reed and honky-tonk king Lefty Frizzell. His earliest public country performance came when he was just 12 years old.

Watson dropped out of school in the ninth grade to work full time. He initially supported his family by doing auto body repair, so by day he worked on cars, and at night he sang in clubs.

“But doing music professionally was never a goal of mine,” Watson said. “I always wanted to work on cars. I always say I never did go looking for music. Music found me.

“Before I ever made a record, The Wilburn Brothers heard me sing down in Houston at a nightclub one night. They said they’d like for me to go with them and do a couple of shows. So I came up to Nashville and traveled to North Carolina with them. They got me on the Grand Ole Opry, and I got a standing ovation and an encore singing the Hank Williams song ‘I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You’ and ‘It Is No Secret What God Can Do.’ After that, they carried me down to the Ernest Tubb Record Shop and I got on stage and broadcast on The Midnight Jamboree. That was my first experience with the Big Time. I was 21.”

For tickets to Sunday’s show, call the Paramount at (423) 274-8920 or visit

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