Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
This is the fifth of 12 installments reviewing nominees in each category of Dale Watson’s 2017 Ameripolitan Music Awards. Voting is now over for this year’s batch of nominees but we will carry on with the review until the event on February 15, 2017 with a look today at this year’s Outlaw Male nominees.
Dusty Rust is a Honky Tonk performer from Kansas City, MO with two albums under his belt. Rust is a troubadour and plays over 100 shows a year. He has opened for some of the biggest outlaw acts of today. Dusty’s sound is vintage honky tonk paying homage to the likes of Waylon Jennings and Hank Sr.
Shelton Hank Williams (AKA Hank 3) definitely has pedigree on his side, being the grandson of Hank Williams Sr. But that is not the only thing he has going for him. He proudly lives the outlaw country life. He sings about one night stands, fighting, drinking, and drugs. He is a tireless performer, playing well over 100 shows a year and splitting his time between classic country and hardcore punk. He is the poster child for modern outlaw country.
AJ Hobbs is a rebel whose rough and rowdy ways are well documented. He was born in Riverside, CA but spent his formative years by the beach in Orange County where he felt like a fish out of water. His style is influenced not only by the country gods, but by soul artists such as Stevie Wonder, Isaac Hayes, and Al Green. AJ has had his battles with addiction, but now he devotes his life to making real country music, which is the ultimate drug.
Cash O’Riley is from Flint, MI like Whitey Morgan. It is hard to fathom one outlaw country artist from Flint, let alone two. O’Riley is another performer who doesn’t only sing the songs, he lives the life. He has had some brushes with the law, but he is in this category because of his no holds barred style of country music that is energetic and dangerous. His music makes you want to get up and dance at the very least, and maybe even contemplate getting into a barroom brawl. I said contemplate.
Scott H. Biram is about to release his tenth full length album. Biram sports a tattoo on his right forearm that says “No Regrets”. That is the way he lives his life and takes the same approach to his music. If I would have to identify an outlier in this category, it is Scott. His music is raw and full of emotion, but his music is more aligned with blues than classic country. That in no way diminishes his chances in this category. If anything, it could be this differentiation that could put him over.
So there you have the rundown on the Outlaw Male category. Another very difficult one to call. All of these performers are worthy adversaries and could win the crown. This could be a five way tie.