“God Bless This Town” in Every Town Across Texas by Keith Howerton, photos by Brian Kirkpatrick (Oct 2007) The past two years have been a rocket ride for Wade Bowen and his band. Since the February 2006 release of his first project with Sustain Records, Lost Hotel, Wade has become a mainstay of Texas and Red Dirt music. His tour schedule is completely full to the point that he turns away as many gigs as he accepts and he continues to play the largest venues and festivals in Texas and the region. The majority of his club shows are sold out as fans continue to demand more from him. They can’t seem to get enough of Wade Bowen.
Even with all the attention, fame, and continued success Wade remains a humble down to earth sort of guy who has a kindness about him that is genuine and is not contrived or faked. The “attention disease” that can consume so many artists has not afflicted him.
Texas Music Times caught up with Wade recently at a Starbucks in his hometown of New Braunfels Texas. It was a great Monday afternoon and Wade took time away from his family to give us some insight into who he is and we appreciate it.
Even though Lost Hotel with the hit single “God Bless This Town” is Wade’s most significant project to date, he has 2 other records to his credit. The 2002 release of Try Not to Listen, and the 2004 release of Wade’s live record, The Blue Light Live, solidly landed Wade among the top tier of performers and songwriters in Texas. Both CDs sold very well at independent record stores and earned Wade awards and praise from fans and critics alike. The radio single from Try Not to Listen cracked the top ten of the regional charts. The sequential success of all of Wade’s records have been a deserving road for a guy who got his start doing backyard BBQ gigs at Texas Tech University.
The success of Wade Bowen is no surprise to anyone paying attention. His songwriting is superb, he has a voice that is unique among a sea of mediocrity, and he tours with one of the best bands in the business. However, his approach to the business side of the music business is as much a part of who he is as are the songs and the performances. Wade keeps all the business aspects in perspective. When asked his views of radio and promotional aspects of the music business, he was very matter of fact.
“Radio is important,” he said, “but not as important as delivering to the fans in a personal way”. “I do the radio thing, like everyone does, but I don’t think it gets you there like it used to. It used to be all you had to do was promote on radio and tour to make a record sell, and get people to come out. Now you almost have to be connected to every single fan in some way. It is much harder now,” reflected Bowen with tremendous sincerity.
He views getting his music out as a campaign to connect to fans as individual people. His values show in the Wade Bowen team approach to fans and the music. His website is one of the most informative in the genre, and he routinely sends out detailed and informative fan mail to his fans. He is also the beneficiary of a full time press person who works for his booking agency at Austin Universal Entertainment. They are the only booking agency in Texas (and likely Nashville) with an in-house PR person.
The team approach has enabled the Bowen team to place attention to not only his music but to causes that Wade believes in. Recently Bowen sponsored the tenth annual Wade Bowen Golf Classic benefit supporting the victims of Rhett Syndrome (RS). The benefit is to raise awareness of RS and supports a family from Hayes Kansas whose daughter has the rare disorder. The family has been big Wade Bowen supporters for years. He is now giving back to them. The hard work of Wade’s entire team has enabled him to be a person who can give back. The event raises over $10,000 dollars each year.
Wade’s approach to his golf benefit is simply an extension of his approach to his music and life. He is a dedicated family man who sees things for what they are and keeps the important things important. He spends holidays like Holloween with his kids when he could be playing a high dollar gig somewhere. Wade Bowen truly is an artist and person to be admired. Not just for his music, although that is plenty enough of a reason, but because he has an infections humble personality that exudes a quiet nice guy image that is real and sincere. There is likely no one that Wade has ever met that did not like him on some level. Simply stated he is one of the nicest guys out there, and the music and live shows are not to bad either.