Aaron Watson brings Texas sound to kick off Bucking Horse Sale
This might be Aaron Watson’s first time attending any kind of bucking horse sale – but in many ways you can say this “ain’t his first rodeo.”
Fans of traditional Texas country that bucks the Nashville machine can look forward to the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale kickoff concert on Thursday night, May 16. Watson will headline at 9 p.m., after the opening act of up-and-comer Faren Rachels at 7 p.m.
Watson has been taking the stage – first in his home region of West Texas, then in arenas across the world – for 20 years. To talk to him in person, however, he still maintains the hands-on nature of the music genre he came from.
“I’m about as normal as they come. I’m just a dad and a husband – my job just happens to be a country singer,” says Watson. “To us music is not an industry, it’s a family business.”
Noted for his dedication and the original songs he gets up at 5 a.m. to write, Watson has made a name for himself through raw talent and sticking to his convictions of writing and singing music true to his roots. Even when it didn’t take Music Row by storm.
“When I first started, every record label told me I didn’t have what it takes to make it in this business.”
Since then, Watson’s last three albums have made the Billboard country music Top 10. He routinely sells out shows across the nation, while staying faithful to three chords and the truth. “We built this business one night at a time – one dancehall, one rodeo at a time,” he says. “Our foundation is our fans.
“I have so much gratitude for all this. I played to nobody for so long, and I just really appreciate this moment.”
Watson’s upcoming album, “Red Bandana,” will feature an epic collection of 20 self-penned songs, written solely by Watson. This marks the first mainstream country album in over a decade to be entirely authored by one person, having last occurred with Alan Jackson’s Good Time, released in 2008.
With the songs he plays near and dear to his heart, Watson says the respect of his fans is the world to him. “These songs are from my heart – they mean so much to me. Some are about the people I love the most,” he says. For instance, Bluebonnets (Julia’s Song) was penned in memory of his baby daughter who died.
“We have a good time at our shows, our fans are the best, but there are also moments – whether we’re with 1,000 or 10,000 people – when you can almost hear a pin drop,” he says. “It means so much to me.”
Asked if he knew about the history behind the Bucking Horse Sale or if he had ever got on a bucking horse, Watson replied: “I’ve been on a horse that bucked with me, but I’ve never been on a bucking horse. Technically, I guess when it bucked it was a bucking horse,” he added and laughed.
Watson lives in a small, country town and owns and rides horses. He says most important to him is the way of life that his music represents.
“I grew up around these traditions, the heritage, the cowboys,” he says. “So many things have changed so much, but what they stand for stays the same. I’m honored to be lumped in with cowboys and ranchers, and my music is full of that tradition.”
Watson is married to Kimberly, who he says is “the boss.”
“All proceeds go straight to her purse – she gives me about $20 a week as an allowance, and sometimes she’ll slip me an extra $10.
“No, honestly, she is a really good mama.”
Watson says they have three kids here on earth and one in heaven: Jake, 13, Jack, 11, Jolie Kate, 9, and Julia, who died shortly after she was born in 2011.
“My kids are my favorite thing in life – I love baseball and I love Jesus and my faith and my family,” he says with a laugh. “I guess I better get that in the right order, or my mama will whup me. Jesus comes before baseball.”
Unashamed of his faith, Watson is a passionate Christian and describes how his belief sustained him through the long start of his career and the painful loss of their baby in his blog, Barbed Wire Halo.
When asked what he most looks forward to at the Bucking Horse Sale, Watson says every show is different and he simply looks forward to meeting and playing for his fans.
“I love what I do, and when I show up and it’s time to do a show, I’m employed by every single person in the audience that night.
“Plus, I’ve learned that if you take a lot of selfies with the girls, you really don’t have to sing that good.”
Watson will likely be playing songs from “Red Bandana” – and even though it might be more fitting for a dude ranch than Eastern Montana orthodox to wear one, true Watson fans can stand out with their trademark red scarf.
He says there are certain songs that true western audiences enjoy, and to listen for cowboy favorites like “July in Cheyenne” and “Freight Train.” But, he says the most important thing to him is that the crowd has a good time, and he plans to have “a ton of fun.”
With live music and a weekend of fun ahead, on Thursday night everyone in Miles City will be a little bit Texan.
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Jill Rigler is not your average 17 year old.