Kevin Fowler presented by Absolute Hyundai
Saturday, April 27, 9:30 p.m.
REAL. TEXAS. MUSIC. MAIN. STAGE.
Ask Kevin Fowler how’d he’d describe his own music and he doesn’t think twice before responding: “It’s country with a bad attitude. It’s country with an edge. It’s just beer-drinkin’, hell-raisin’, good-time music.” That attitude that has made his live shows a mainstay in his home state of Texas carries over to his latest album, “Chippin’ Away,” which hit stores Aug. 9, 2011.
And anyone who’s ever been to a Kevin Fowler show knows he does far more than just talk the talk—the man delivers one of the most entertaining, high-energy performances you’re likely to see in country or any other genre, with a hard-ticket base that rivals many gold-selling artists. Whether it’s “Beer, Bait and Ammo,” “Cheaper to Keep Her,” “The Best Mistake I Ever Made,” “Don’t Touch My Willie” or any of the other unforgettable tunes that have seen him regularly perched atop the Texas music charts, Kevin’s music is the product of years spent perfecting his craft.
“Chippin’ Away” shows the progression of an artist and songwriter who not only listens to his audience, he is his audience. Tempo rules on the 11 cuts, beginning with the tone-setting “Beer Money.” “Girl In A Truck” is self-explanatory, and a live version of “Knocked Up” is an obvious crowd favorite. (“You got knocked up, and I got locked up; I guess you’d say that we both got screwed.”) Muddy water washes cares away in “Big River,” and everything he wants is in “That Girl.”
“Here’s To Me and You” is a beer-drinking anthem about the love of friends, family and country. About “Hell Yeah, I Like Beer,” Kevin confesses: “What more can I say? If you know me, you know that this song is definitely autobiographical.”
The tempo slows early with the breakup song “I Could Do That With You Gone.” “Daddies and Daughters” shows the softest side of Kevin Fowler to date. “This song started because I have three daughters. We were songwriting one day out at my ranch with Trent Willmon and Brandon Kinney, who both have daughters too. This song is the result of a conversation we had that day about our girls. I think songs always turn out better when they are about real-life situations that you’ve experienced.”
With his career track record, it would be easy to assume Kevin must’ve always known music would be his life’s passion. After all, how can you be this good at something and not have worked at it for a lifetime? But he admits coming to his career path later in the game than most.
“There was a day in life that changed me,” Kevin recalls of the transformative epiphany he experienced at the Texas Jam in the Cotton Bowl back when he was about 20 years old. “I had been dabblin’ in music and played everything a little, but nothing well. Aerosmith was there. White Snake. All these bands were playing at a day-long festival. They were hosing down the crowd with big fire hoses. And it was just mayhem. I had never seen 100,000 people in one place. I remember that day going, ‘Well, that’s what I’m supposed to be doin’.’”
While Amarillo boy Kevin may not have had a clear vision of his life’s path prior to that momentous day, he shouldn’t have been surprised when he finally realized he was put on this earth to write songs and entertain people. After all, he’d been entertaining in one way or another since his attention-seeking days as a self-described “band geek,” playing drums in junior high and high school.
But Kevin’s musical training had begun earlier when his mom, Shirley, insisted he take piano lessons, in spite of his hatred of it and his desire to play football instead. Looking back, he thinks his folks made the right call
While Kevin recalls knee-knocking piano recitals as his first experience with live performing, his first taste of country music came through the records his dad played—Johnny Horton, Johnny Cash, Buck Owens and Roy Clark. Kevin, of course, rebelled and gravitated more toward rockers AC/DC, Kiss, The Cars, Metallica, and other decidedly non-country bands.
“No. It was just an eye opener. My mama always persisted in telling me, ‘Whatever you’re gonna do, don’t be a quitter.’ That’s why she never would let me quit piano music. Somebody told me one time, ‘You’ve gotta stay in the game long enough to get lucky.’”
A move to L.A. came after Kevin, then a junior at West Texas A&M in Canyon, saw that life-changing show at the Cotton Bowl. With 100 credits toward a business degree, he quit school and went to the coast to study at the GIT guitar institute. While there, he learned how incredibly competitive the music world really is.
After finishing school in L.A., Kevin—a road warrior at heart—made a move to the live music capitol of the world, Austin, Texas. “That’s the only reason I got into music . . . to play live,” says Kevin, who’ll do about 150 shows this year.
Not long after his move to Austin, Kevin joined a band that became Rumble Train, but soon discovered he was the only one with any motivation. Then he fell in with long-haired rockers Dangerous Toys. And, not surprisingly, they had a problem with Kevin’s tunes. So, in a move that was more necessity than intention, Kevin began singing them himself.
And Kevin, the rocker who also wore out two cassettes of George Strait’s Right or Wrong album, found a way to combine the best of both worlds. “I’ve always liked rock, for the attitude and the energy. But I’ve always liked the country lyric. It just tells a story. And I try to combine those elements . . . make it rockin’ and fun with a good lyric in there, a good turn of a phrase.”
That ability has given Kevin more than a decade of success in his Texas stomping grounds where he is embraced with a vengeance by audiences who love him and his music. But he wanted more.
Signing with Disney-owned Lyric Street Records, home to Rascal Flatts, Shedaisy and Bucky Covington, he thought he was his ticket to take his unique brand of country to the masses. But just as his debut single was flying up through the Top 40 radio chart, and outselling everything around it, Disney shuttered the label.
If the short-lived label deal was good for but one thing, it showed Kevin that people across the country were hungry for his style of music. As the phone started ringing, Kevin began weighing his options for the next steps in his career. He enjoyed the taste of a national audience, but he wanted any new music they heard to be just as true “Kevin Fowler music” as what got them excited about him in the first place.
He caught wind of a small but passionate label called Average Joe’s Entertainment, a nimble, lean and mean powerhouse indie label with a reputation for thinking – and delivering - outside the box. It was a perfect fit for Kevin, and the new relationship fits hand-in-glove with his music, his lifestyle and his career.
Ultimately, Kevin knows he only has control over one thing in his career. “What you do onstage . . . nobody can make you sound crappy but you. That’s Kevin Fowler Music 101 in a nutshell. Make it about the fans, the live show and the music. And hopefully everything else will come from there.”