Dale Watson & his Lonestars, Eric Strickland & The B-Sides.
Ice House Theatre, Selma
Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015
Roughly 30 minutes southeast of downtown Raleigh sits Selma's Ice House Theatre. The nondescript white building was converted into a venue from the remains of a factory that once supplied the area with ice and coal. The intimate room still sticks to the roots of its past life: Inside, exposed wood beams, brick and the remnants of a track offer reminders of how the large blocks of ice were moved within the century-old building.
More than an hour before showtime, the Ice House's doors opened, so patrons began filling the numbered pews. While it seemed a bit early for people to show up, it soon became clear that, in a town of about 6,000 people, the performance space serves as a meeting place for the community. Friends socialized, enjoyed a variety of dollar items at the snack bar, told jokes and laughed. By showtime, the room was full.
Eric Strickland & The B-Sides, an impressive group from Four Oaks, opened. The group's song book features refreshing, cliché-free lyrics and the standout steel guitar work of BJ Barbour. It makes sense that they're nominated for "Outlaw Group of The Year" at the Ameripolitan awards in Austin, Texas. Dale Watson & his Lonestars headlined. The layout and crowd at the alcohol-free Ice House lend themselves to an ideal listening-room experience for Watson. His croon sounded wonderful. as did Don Pawlak, who used the opportunity to let his pedal steel soar. The title cut of the forthcoming Call Me Insane was perfect in the setting. Watson went on to take his usual swing at mainstream pop-country music, too, lamenting the perceived lack of respect when country legend George Jones passed away. The sentiment inspired his uptempo number "Jonesin' For Jones."
As the show came to a close, Watson glanced at his surroundings. He suggested that the Ice House be nominated for Ameripolitan Venue of the Year because of its rustic setting and respectful audience. The crowd cheered in response and later formed a long line to buy merch, take pictures and, mostly, thank Watson for visiting Selma.
Below, check clips from the evening's performance.
Dale Watson & his Lonestars, "Call Me Insane"
Dale Watson & his Lonestars, "Jonesin' for Jones"
Dale Watson & his Lonestars, "Here in Frisco"
Dale Watson & his Lonestars, "Heaven's Gonna Have a Honky Tonk" and "Legends (What If)"