The American South can be a fraught subject. Enter Louisiana-native Chris Watts, musically known as Dirt Reynolds. Watts recently developed his blue-collar rocker alias to help himself and others better understand the patchwork of conflict and beauty he’s proud to call home (and to duck alarming web searches pointing to a Colorado murderer).
His debut album Scalawag combines blistering twang with broke-but-not-broken characters to illustrate the truth and the lies The South tells to itself and others.
It’s probably no coincidence Watts met guitarist Jason Paradise at a Drive-By Truckers tribute concert in East Nashville. In late 2019 they added drummer Ryan Dishen and bassist Drew Kohl to the formal lineup.
Americana Highways calls Scalawag “an earnest glimpse of life for those who are marginalized because they don’t fit the portrait of the American dream.”
According to Country Standard Time, “Watts comes out firing relentlessly,” and Disciples of Sound calls the album “a new southern revolution.”
A former troublemaker raised in Central Louisiana (dubbed Cenla), Watts was stabbed in a bar and shot in the New Orleans SuperDome while on Katrina duty for the Louisiana National Guard.
His love of language and fascination with Louisiana politics led him to college degrees in journalism and political science. As a childhood fan of Mark Twain, he grew to love the writers who defined The South, from Flannery O’Connor to Willie Morris.
Glide Magazine says, “Watts and his band channel his wild life experiences into twangy alt-country that is also socially conscious during a time when we sure do need more Southerners speaking out against hate and bigotry.”
Watts moved to Nashville in 2013 where he began honing his craft inside the honky-tonks of Music City’s notorious Broadway Ave.
As a solo artist, he’s toured festivals and listening rooms across the country, including Austin's SXSW Music Festival, AMA Americana Festival in Nashville, the Key West Songwriter’s Festival, and Music City’s world-famous listening room Bluebird Café.
Snoop Dogg, The Gin Blossoms, and Sammy Kershaw have all shared their stages with him, and his songs have appeared on acclaimed U.S. terrestrial radio stations, including WWOZ New Orleans and WSM Nashville, home of the Grand Ole Opry.
Scalawag is available now on all digital platforms with a vinyl release set for August 28, 2020.