You may recognize his face and you’ll definitely recognize his music.
Born and raised in Waco, Wade Bowen is known from big cities to small towns all across Texas. After being a part of the Texas music scene for almost twenty years his new record “Solid Ground” tells the story of his roots and how the they’ve helped shape him into who he is today.
What’s the meaning behind the name of your new album, “Solid Ground”?
My producer Keith Gattis is a Texas guy as well. When we started diving into the record, we realized this is my Texas record. Texas music to me is rock, it’s country, it’s Americana, it’s blues, it’s Tejano. It’s all of that, mixed into one. I don’t even think we say Texas lyrically in the whole record—but there’s Austin and Acuna and little glimpses of Texas. Sonically, I really wanted it to feel like a concept album—like how a movie would feel listening to it. So when it came time to name the record, I felt “Solid Ground” was the perfect way to let people understand my goal.
Do you feel being a Texan has shaped you as an artist?
Of course. I always thought that before playing music. Growing up listening to country music, I always thought I was going to have to move to Nashville, wait tables and wait on my turn to get a big record deal to become a “superstar.” But when I saw Robert Earl Keen play, I realized that you can go out and play live and start your career and do it a little bit different. It changed my life forever, so I never moved to Nashville. I just love it here. You know, Bruce Springsteen is a big influence of mine. (I named my son Bruce for crying out loud—I’m that big of a nerd fan.) So, in the same way you realize that he has that Jersey sound and feel, and you know where he comes from—I think that same feeling comes through in my record more than ever before.
Wade Bowen’s latest album, “Solid Ground,” releases February 9
What do you think is the biggest difference between Texas Country and Mainstream Country Radio?
I think everybody has their own way of doing it, you just have to do the best you can to stick your head above the crowd. The way I’ve always tried to do that is to be as honest and real as I can. And with this one, I don’t think I’ve ever been more honest or open or real. I’ve always ridden that fine line between rock and country and I think this record really does that—which is what our live show does. I feel this is the best version of Wade Bowen I’ve ever done.
Favorite thing to get at Czech Stop?
Fruit kolaches. I get a bunch, and break them in half. I like the sausage and cheese ones.
Best part of being from Waco?
I love having a Big O at George’s and I love eating pizza at Poppa Rollos.
Is it hard to balance your time between touring and being home with your family?
Yeah it is, but I’ve been doing this almost 20 years so I think the balance is good. Luckily, I find comfort in knowing my kids don’t know any different. They didn’t grow up like me. My father was born and raised in Waco, never left and is still there. He had Bowen Electric Company so he’d go to work and come home every day. He coached me in Little League… My poor kids don’t have those things. So I have many, many conversations with them saying that the only reason I leave is so I can go work and make sure they have the things that they want in their lives. If there’s one thing that they take with them from me, I hope it’s that they know they’re number one for me. I want them to know that I love them—and that they better work hard. I want them to know what hard work means.
You’ve played your fair share of dance halls, can you dance well?
I can dance because I have three sisters. Two of them are older and they made sure that I knew how, so I can two-step with the best of them.
Music-wise, what were the last three things you listened to?
I have the new Drew Kennedy record on repeat and I really haven’t listened to a whole lot of anything else because it’s that good. The new Leann Womack record because we spent some time with her in Steamboat when I was up there, and the newest Brent Cobb single, “Ain’t a Road Too Long”.
Do you and your band have a ritual before you get on stage?
We get in a huddle and we all kinda embrace and we say a prayer. It’s different every night based off of what our needs are but it’s our staple. I feel like I have to have it or I just can’t go on stage.
Wade Bowen’s latest album “Solid Ground” releases February 9. Cover photo Cambria Harkey