I’ve been a fan of live albums for as long as I can remember. The added intensity of the crowd noise, the differences in the delivery and timing from the studio versions of the songs, and the stories in between, always give me a something a little extra dive in to. So when I heard Aaron Watson was releasing a live album playing some of his biggest songs live from the opening night of the 2017 Rodeo Houston, I couldn’t wait!
When I got my hands on it, I loaded it into my F-150’s CD player, and from the first sound of the announcer’s electric introduction, I was whisked into a world of a 13 song live set. The rawness of the instrumentation, Watson’s crowd banter and animated vocal delivery on top of 65,000 cheering fans gives you no choice but to be pulled in and feel like you’re there.
My favorite added elements of live albums are always the verbal setups. The extra color it provides often paints a deeper shade of emotion. The powerful background of “Raise Your Bottle”, the touching sentiment of “Bluebonnets”, and the words of inspiration leading into “Fence Post”, elevate those songs even higher.
The album is fresh, hard-hitting at times, and a hell of a lot of fun! What I also love about live albums is the complete listening experience they seamlessly provide as they often force you to listen to the whole thing linearly. The transitions keep you going from track to track in its original order…something’s that often an afterthought these days. I have to admit, it was a nice refresher to just sit and listen to tracks bound and connected to each other all the way through.
The live album concludes with the acoustic bonus track, “Higher Ground,” which is a powerful tribute of hope and prayer Watson wrote in the midst of Hurricane Harvey.
“I pray you always be strong
You always be brave
Take heart and hold on for dear life
Wave after wave, after all those tears fall
down, down, down
Come hell or high water
Only love will find you higher ground.”
And Watson’s outpour of support for the largest city in his home state doesn’t stop with the last track. $1.41 from each album sold will go towards the Rebuild Texas Fund, which supports the economic recovery of Texas communities devastated by Hurricane Harvey.
Originally Watson had plans of releasing the album late last year, but after Hurricane Harvey hit, he decided that it wasn’t the right time. Instead, he chose to hold on to it and release it on the one year anniversary in hopes of reminding people that there’s still a lot of work left to do.
This live album represents so much more than one night in Houston. And it is more than another project Watson can put under his belt…
Instead, it’s a celebration of Texas, its music, and its people. It’s a celebration of Watson and his 18-year career, a “Vaquero” who has experienced his own share of personal struggles and grief but continues to choose love and perseverance. Last, it’s a celebration of hope for a city whose people are still in the healing process.
Watson uses his music to lead by example, encouraging generosity and offering hope to those still struggling. This album is a reminder that no matter what storm life may bring, the power of music can heal.
The album is out now, and we invite you to join Watson’s efforts and grab yourself a copy!
AAaron Watson Live at the World’s Biggest Rodeo Show
- “These Old Boots Have Roots” (Aaron Watson)
- “Freight Train” (Aaron Watson, Troy Olsen, Tim Nichols)
- “Real Good Time” (Aaron Watson)
- “Raise Your Bottle” (Aaron Watson)
- “That’s Why God Loves Cowboys” (Aaron Watson, Troy Olsen, Sarah Buxton)
- “That Look” (Aaron Watson)
- “Outta Style” (Aaron Watson)
- “Bluebonnets” (Julia’s Song) (Aaron Watson)
- “They Don’t Make Em Like They Use To” (Aaron Watson)
- “Fence Post” (Aaron Watson)
- “Wildfire” (John Mayer)
- “Getaway Truck” (Aaron Watson)
- “July in Cheyenne” (Song for Lane’s Momma) (Aaron Watson)
- “Higher Ground” (Acoustic Bonus Track) (Aaron Watson)