Wade Bowen on how the Boss, Guy Clark, and the Eagles inspired his new album Solid Ground
For his upcoming LP, Solid Ground, due out Friday via Thirty Tigers, Wade Bowen sought to honor the musical, well, ground, he was raised on in Texas. As such, across the collection's 11 songs, 10 of which he wrote or co-wrote, Bowen toys with Americana and traditional red dirt stylings and even, like on "Day of the Dead," mariachi. Fellow Lone Star State musicians Miranda Lambert and Jack Ingram show up on "So Long 6th Street," a woeful missive to Austin, Texas, where Bowen cut his teeth as a new artist, and John Randall appears on the album highlight "Death, Dyin' and Deviled Eggs." <iframe src="https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/2T3kJ21ABtnWsv8uDT6gHQ" width="300" height="380" frameborder="0" class="" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="" resize="0" replace_attributes="1" name=""></iframe>
Below, Bowen breaks down the major influences that shaped Ground, from Bruce Springsteen's visceral songwriting to the Eagles' penchant for melodrama. "They have fun but they leave you with something to think about as well," Bowen says of the through-line. "That's what I try to do. I want people to smile, stomp their feet, and clap along, but I still want them to get something out of the show. I've always been very intense, very lyrically driven. I love feeling all of those emotions."
"I was a late bloomer when it came to Springsteen — I didn't discover him until I was 18 or so. I didn't start playing guitar until I was about 17, so I really started diving into songwriters then, and that's when I discovered Springsteen and I have just been obsessed ever since. He's been a huge influence of mine and not just as a songwriter but also following how he makes setlists, how he does shows, just everything. I'm such a nerd fan that I named my oldest son Bruce, he's 12."
"My dad introduced me to Guy Clark. Old No. 1 on vinyl — I have vivid memories of him playing that while he was building a fire in the living room. And he's another guy who I really dove into as I started writing songs. So I've always been a fan but I didn't truly understand him until I started diving into songwriting."
Patty Griffin, 1000 Kisses
"I actually accidentally discovered Patty Griffin. I was double booked in Austin — this is back when no one knew who the heck we were — and the [manager] came up to me when we were getting ready to load in and he said, ‘Man, I am so sorry. We've got a lady named Patty Griffin out on the main stage. How about y'all just play after she's done and you guys can have free tickets to the show?' And I was like, ‘Cool, I've never heard of her.' And I have never been blown away by an artist like that. And that was actually her release party for 1000 Kisses and I just walked straight to the merch booth and bought the CD immediately. And if it's not my favorite album ever, it's definitely in my top three."
"If you're from Texas and playing country music and you don't have George Strait on your list, there's probably a problem. But I'm such a big fan of his, really. I've bought every record he's ever made. I've had the pleasure of meeting him as I've gotten further along in my career and he was everything I hoped he would be. He's the ultimate cowboy and he made country cool — and he still does, to this day."
Robert Earl Keen
"When I was a freshman in college at Texas Tech, I went and saw Robert Earl play. Up until that point, I was a country music fan and I thought you had to move to Nashville and write songs and wait your turn to be a country music star, and when I saw Robert Early, I realized I wanted to do that. Seeing him live in Lubbock, Texas, in 1997 changed my life forever."
"The Eagles have always been a part of my family. And it's not necessarily the harmonies that you hear in my music, but I think the melodrama that they're so good at. That's my favorite type of songwriting."
Tom Petty, "Room at the Top"
"Tom Petty is probably on everybody's list, just like how George Strait is on every country artist's list, but I wanted specifically this song. It's my favorite song of his and it's very relevant with his passing. It's, once again, another intense, try-to-change-the-world song and I love that style."
The Lone Bellow, "You Never Need Nobody"
"I can't even remember how I got that first record, but when I got it, I just went, ‘Wow.' And I've had the pleasure of meeting them. They came out to our Red Rocks show and I was a little starstruck meeting them. I love that record and its backstory is so cool and the music is so good."
Late night conversations with country artist Jack Ingram solving all the world's problems — or at least our own
"Anybody who knows Jack knows that the late night hangs are what makes Jack fun. And not only are we close buddies, but he said some things to me over the course of writing this record that really pushed me to write things that I probably wouldn't have on my own. I want to give him credit for some of this."
Bob Dylan, "Seven Curses"
"I almost cut a cover of this song for this album. It's my favorite song of his. It's hidden on one of his bootleg series and it's just him and the guitar and it's just a brilliant story."
All current tour dates are listed below. Solid Ground is available to order here.
Feb. 7 – Key West Florida – Mile 0 Fest
(Turnpike Troubadours, Cody Jinks, Pat Green, Jack Ingram, Old 97s, and more)
Feb. 10 – Nashville, TN – 3rd & Lindsley
Feb. 16 – Tulsa, OK – Crain's Ballroom
Feb. 17 – Kearny, NE – Viaero Event Center
Feb. 20 – Tomball, TX – Wade Bowen's Alive & Alone Acoustical Extravaganza
Feb. 21 – Tomball, TX – Wade Bowen's Alive & Alone Acoustical Extravaganza
Feb. 24 – Bay City, TX – Matagorda Co. Fair and Rodeo
Mar. 2 – College Station, TX – Hurricane Harry's w/ Jake Ward
Mar. 8 – Washington, D.C. – Gypsy Sally's
Mar. 9 – New York, NY – Terminal 5
Mar. 16 – Concan, TX – Rio Frio Fest
Mar. 17 – Helotes, TX – John T. Floore Country Store
Mar. 24 – Shawnee, OK – FireLake Arena
Apr. 13 – Hitchcock, TX – Galveston County Fair & Rodeo
Apr. 14 – Conroe, TX – Montgomery County Fairgrounds
May 5 – The Roundup – Boerne, TX