For a decade now, Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen, along with their trusty band mates, have become A-Listers in the nebulously defined, increasingly lucrative world of Texas Country Music. The reason for each artist's ascendency isn't a secret. Rogers, a native of Cleburne just outside of Fort Worth, and Waco native Bowen have simply made one fantastic album after another and seemingly never have an off night when they hit the stage.
For many years now, the two have been practically brothers as their friendship has remained intact since the early days of George W. Bush's administration. Sure, many bands that become mainstays on the touring circuit in this lower part of the country run into each other at festivals and shared bills, enabling them to perhaps grab some buddy-time a bit more often than some might think. But Rogers and Bowen don't leave that to chance. For several years now, the annual Hold My Beer And Watch This tour has acted as an ingenious way to handle a summer road trip with one's best bud.
In a mutually beneficial manner, the popular, always-too-short tour, in which Rogers, an alumnus of Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University), and Bowen chat about many of their songs as they perform them acoustically, has become as anticipated of an event as one of the many stellar festivals either one often headlines.
With the guys hitting the stage in the big room inside of the House of Blues in Dallas tonight, we tracked down Rogers to get a history lesson on this uniquely beloved tour.
On Meeting Bowen
We met in San Marcos when Wade's band had a gig in town. I had a house there and a keg on that particular night, so after the show I invited him and his band over. I hosted these pickin' parties for a bunch of us to sit around and play some songs for each other. I had just recorded [Rogers' 2002 debut album] Like it Used to Be, and Wade listened to the whole thing that night and we pretty much became great friends from that point. Our bands were also around the same age and the timing was really good for all of us.
On the Early Days of Playing Acoustic Shows Together
The days of us performing acoustic or duo types of shows goes way back. Wade and I used to call ourselves "Little Pat" and "Little Cory" [after Pat Green and Cory Morrow] in the early 2000s. We've only called the tour "Hold My Beer and Watch This" for six or seven years now. We had a couple of other names for the tour before that, I guess. I'm not really sure why we called it what we have other than we like the way it sounds. One night, we had our guitars out and one of us said, "Here, hold my beer and watch this," and it just kind of stuck.
On Choosing Smaller Venues for These Shows
We both like the idea of showing loyalty to the venues we played when we were getting started and for the people who supported us during that time. Our bands have outgrown the venues we played back then, so this is a great chance for us to play in rooms like Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, where I first started. It helps us to stay grounded and true in that sense.
On Playing These Shows Around Dallas
We played one of these shows at Hat Tricks in Lewisville not too long ago because [owner] Tony Avezzano has been a great friend and supporter for so many years. It's a great way to visit my roots. I obviously enjoy playing big shows in big rooms, but there's a lot to be said for playing to a smaller room that's filled with people that want a different kind of experience than what they get in those bigger shows.
On Dealing With Loud Talkers During Quiet Shows
People talking and partying doesn't bother either of us. I mean, the name of the damn tour is "Hold My Beer and Watch This," so we obviously want people to have fun. It doesn't matter to me if someone's not interested in me as long as they're drinking beer and having a good time.
On What's New for the Hold My Beer and Watch This tour
We are doing some things differently for this year's tour. We've got a couple of sound engineers with us, and we're recording a few of these shows because of how much we value songs in their acoustic form. Wade and I are also going to go into the studio with [noted producer] Lloyd Maines after the tour so we can record a couple of duets to put onto an album with some of the recordings from this tour. We're playing some quiet rooms and some rowdy rooms, so we want to capture the essence of this tour.
On Why He and Bowen Keep Making This Tour Happen
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It's still a lot of fun. It's a blast, really. We've gotten older and we've slowed down a bit in ways, but this tour is still very important to both of us. I always seem to be able to recharge my batteries when we play these shows. I go back and relearn old songs I won't usually play with the band and that's rejuvenating. It's also nice to be out on the road with one of my best friends and not have a totally packed bus. I use the time to write songs, which is what I'm really all about, and this tour helps me remember that.
On Looking Back To Those Who've Helped Them
Before this tour became a reality, Wade and I would also call ourselves "The B-Team" because we were the ones that would open for Jack Ingram, Pat, Cody Canada and the bigger names of that time. We were definitely thankful to be included in their shows when we were, but we both dreamed of being able to do something like we are now where we aren't "The B-Team," and could tour and perform how we wanted to. Of course, those guys I mentioned were doing it long before Wade or I, and they paved the way for us to just rip them off [laughs].