Everything has a tipping point, even after decades of following your dreams. For Aaron Watson, it happened in early March when he stepped onstage at RodeoHouston for the first time and played to 50,000.
“I’m 15 years working with Aaron; who’s 18 years in,” manager Gino Genaro told Pollstar. “Aaron said that getting to play the Houston rodeo is like getting [golf’s] Green Jacket in Texas. That was a big step for us but they really believed that he had put in the time and they had faith in him.”
Watson is touring Vaquero, which comes on the heels of 2015’s The Underdog, which was the first-ever release by an independent male artist to debut at No. 1 on the country album charts. Genaro stressed that this latest album was itself a milestone because “after making history” Watson could have been satisfied and laid low. “Instead, I’ve never seen him work so hard on a record and it was amazing to have a front-row seat to it.”
Meanwhile the grassroots effort of building Watson’s fan base continues on the road. In his home base of Texas he is headlining arenas but his fan base outside the Lone Star State is growing, too. In 2015, Watson dropped by the Pollstar office for a quick visit; he has visited “three or four countries since we’ve seen you guys.”
“A lot of last year was side stages on Live Nation festivals; this year it’s the mainstage on those festivals,” Genaro said. “We’re moving from 1,000 caps to 3,000 caps. The production is bigger with a new installation.”
Apart from hard work (“We support 22 employees with 43 children so we’re into this for the long haul”) and the talent, Genaro noted that Watson’s success comes from a unique advantage.
“I think his brand really resonates with the consumer. A lot of the time the machine, if you will, will dictate and force feed the marketplace [but] the cowboy from Texas is one of the coolest things out there. Aaron with his big belt buckle and NFR jacket – people dig that, even in the big city.”