Live country entertainment comes to Central Station again tonight as Aaron Watson, the Honky-Tonk Kid, takes the stage.

    Watson has enjoyed a steady growth in popularity since he released his first album in 2001. Dodge City is the second stop on his current tour, which includes 30 performances between now and the middle of September. Watson and his group performed in Fort Collins, Colo., last night and will be on stage in Dallas Saturday. The tour also travels to Nebraska, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Minnesota and Watson's home state of Texas.


Live country entertainment comes to Central Station again tonight as Aaron Watson, the Honky-Tonk Kid, takes the stage.
    Watson has enjoyed a steady growth in popularity since he released his first album in 2001. Dodge City is the second stop on his current tour, which includes 30 performances between now and the middle of September. Watson and his group performed in Fort Collins, Colo., last night and will be on stage in Dallas Saturday. The tour also travels to Nebraska, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Minnesota and Watson's home state of Texas.
    Now based in Abilene, Texas, Watson grew up in Amarillo. His childhood dream was to be a shortstop for the Houston Astros, according to his Web site. Watson and his father shared a love of baseball, but it was his dad's record collection that really caught the young boy's attention. Watson says that pile of records — an eclectic mix of Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, the Beach Boys and the Beatles — introduced him to "a lot of different musical flavors."
    As a young man, Watson attended a Garth Brooks concert at Texas Stadium and later a Clay Walker concert. Those two experiences helped shape his interest in country music. He enrolled in Abilene Christian University, where instructor Dan Mitchell became a mentor. He also met someone with a little experience in the music business at a local coffee shop. Larry Gatlin, in town for a show, struck up a conversation with the young musician and offered him backstage passes to the concert that evening.
    "Larry Gatlin taught me that you only have two and a half minutes to paint a picture in someone's mind with a song," Watson said on his site.
    As an artist, Watson is often compared to Walker and Brooks, musicians he came to admire so early in his career. Critics point to Watson's intensity in live performance as reminiscent of Garth, and his easy way with a song as something he might have learned watching Walker on stage.
    Described as an all-American artist with a stubborn streak, Watson has managed to build his career by putting out eight albums under his own independent banner, Big Label Records. His most recent, "Angels and Outlaws," released in April 2008, continues the climb.
    Combine that successful business plan with Watson's personal attitude that treats fans like friends and family, and the result is powerhouse entertainment with roadhouse roots.
    Watson's Dodge City appearance at Central Station kicks off at 10 p.m.

Reach Don Steele at (620) 408-9910 or e-mail him at don.steele@dodgeglobe.com