Reverend Horton Heat, Dale Watson and Rosie Flores
Exit/In, Nashville, TN
Review by Jack Smith
Photos by Sundel Perry Photography
If you’ve been around Nashville for long, you already know that the country music genre comes in many flavors. One of the more interesting scenes around goes by the name of psychobilly, which is a combination of old country, rockabilly, and punk rock. Recently, we were fortunate enough to get a chance to see one of the acts that founded this genre, Reverend Horton Heat. This awesome event took place at the one and only Exit/In and featured openers Dale Watson and Rosie Flores. It was quite an upbeat, intense evening, but we had a great time, and more importantly, got some great pictures. Check out the full review and pictures after the break!
Before we dive into specifics on the show itself, its important that you readers built up an accurate understanding of the crowd. You see, despite a brief peak during the 1990’s, the psychobilly scene in the United States has largely remained underground. The lack of broad commercial appeal means that anyone willing to spend money to see the show likely genuinely enjoys psychobilly music. Because of this, the crowd felt very buzzed and excited, even before opener Dale Watson and Rose Flores took the stage.
That excitement bubbled over as soon as Dale Watson took the stage. This semi-local songwriter prides himself on crafting authentic, old-school country music, which he does so quite masterfully. Watson definitely nails the old-school country star persona, and his relaxed and humorous demeanor on stage was just as much a part of the show as his tunes. Watson openly disdains most modern country and the CMA, and the singer wasn’t shy about revealing this to the world. Songs like “Country My Ass” and “Nashville Rash” not only paid tribute to Watson’s dislike of contemporary, they also earned a great deal of cheers from the audience. During several of Watson’s songs, longtime friend and music partner Rosie Flores joined him on vocals. Flores smoky voice has definitely held up over the years, and we cherished the opportunity to see this fine lady perform. We also got to learn a bit about the artists’ history, as both Watson and Flores make a habit of telling stories between songs. While this might not maximize the amount of music one gets to hear, it does foster a relationship with the audience and adds to general sense of fun.
Shortly after Watson finished his set, the evening swelled to a climax with the arrival of the headliner: the Reverend Horton Heat. This three-piece was instrumental in establishing the psychobilly genre, and have played music together since 1985. During the last thirty years, the Reverend and his band have had plenty of time to hone their skill. These days, the group plays very tightly and seems at home on the stage. While the Reverend himself definitely took the spotlight for much of the performance, both bassist Jimbo Wallace and drummer Scott Churilla used their fair share of small flourishes and stage moves while grooving quite hard. Both musically and visually, the group seemed very together, even after shredding through 128 bars of face-melting riffs. It was easy to see why this group achieved the legendary status that it has, and we’re glad to report that Reverend Horton Heat has still got it.