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29 May 09 Eating Ribs with Kevin Fowler

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Kevin Fowler is on top of his game. He’s a singer in love with his audience. He’s someone everyone loves. But when I found out I would get the opportunity to interview the Texas superstar, I didn’t know I would get to eat ribs with him, too. More on that later.

Fowler is from Amarillo. He jokingly says it’s a good place to be “from.” But he is proud of his Texas roots. As for his music roots, they are not what you would expect.

“I’ve always been a bit of a channel surfer when it comes to music,” he said. “I liked everything from Metallica to Merle Haggard to AC DC to Lefty Frizzell. I just like music in general. I think it’s just a coincidence that most of what I write is country.”

Fowler was once in a rock band. But he said everything he was writing was country. “I figured if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, I guess I better start acting like a duck,” he commented. Fowler said when his band mates began accusing him of being a redneck, it was time to change.

Now living in Austin, Fowler loves Texas music. He likes the fact that there is no one real established sound, no set genre.

“You have Ragweed doing the rock thing, you have me doing the country thing, and you have everything in between,” said Fowler, “including Randy Rogers and the Eli Young Band doing their pop thing. The one thing we all have in common is that Texas thread.

“There are no boundaries here. As long as you are writing good songs and putting on a good show, the fans will buy into it. You go to Nashville, LA or New York, whatever is blowing up that day is what everybody’s doing. Here in Texas, originality is fun.”

The live shows that Fowler puts on are what he calls a melting pot of all the various music influences. He classifies his music as country rock. In fact, he is billed as the country star with a heart of rock. And the high-energy performance is aimed directly at the people standing out front, cheering him on.

TMJ had a chance to catch his show at the Real.Texas.Festival last Friday night in Mesquite, where he was the headliner. Before the show, he told us his thoughts on his fans and audience.

“The fans are everything,” he said. “Without the fans, you’re shot. We try to figure out how many shows a year the fans come to. We think it’s four or five a year. Down here, it is very interactive. If you are a fan of the artist, you can come and listen, then meet them and get pretty close. Here, after the show, you’ll see us signing autographs, whatever. It’s all about the fans.”

Fowler’s live show, it is safe to say, is not for the timid or shy. He works to get the audience involved. And they readily respond, singing along with most every song he performs. From his big hits – such as Cheaper to Keep Her and The Best Mistake I Ever Made – to lesser known but just as entertaining album cuts, thousands of voices join together to help the band along.

During the Mesquite show, Fowler introduced a couple of new songs. “Knocked Up” had a very funny, if somewhat racy, storyline. “Beer Season” is self explanatory (in case you need a hint, it lasts all year long). And no show would be complete without “Beer, Bait and Ammo.”

How much does Fowler love his fans? As a show of appreciation, he is giving them a new collection of songs, free. Every two weeks, fans can go to his website and download a new song from the collection, “Live at the Party Barn.” He did it, he says, as a way of saying “thank you” for their support.

After many years of writing and performing, Fowler has no complaints about the business.

“I am really happy with where I am and what we are doing here,” he commented. “In the next few years, I’d like to see it continue and to grow. But this (he said as he motioned around his tour bus) is work? I couldn’t ask for anything better.

“Texas music is going strong. Various genres have come and gone, but these Texas musicians stick around. Look at someone like Jerry Jeff Walker. He’s been performing for 40 years and he can still find work whenever he feels like it. To be able to work as much as you want to, that’s to be really blessed.”

And this brings us to the ribs. Throughout the interview, we could all pick up the aroma of something that had been barbecued. When we finished, Fowler told us that one of his fans had come by the bus. They had competed in a cook-off, and brought him some of their entries: a platter of the biggest, juiciest ribs we had ever seen. Fowler only had to offer them around once. We all joined in. It was one of those moments TMJ will not forget.

The band will be touring across Texas through June. To get tour dates and times, to download the latest song from “Live at the Party Barn,” or to get more information on Kevin Fowler, visit his website, www.kevinfowler.com.

We at Texas Music Journal know that we will be writing more on this talented superstar for many years to come. We just hope that the barbecued ribs continue, as well!

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    […] If you would like to check out that story from last year, go to http://texasmusicjournal.com/texas-music-genres/country/eating-ribs-with-kevin-fowler/. […]