Kevin Fowler has without a doubt entrenched himself in Texas music lore.
Twenty years ago, Fowler began crooning at honky-tonks and beer joints around Austin. Just getting started, he — along with contemporaries Pat Green, Cory Morrow and Roger Creager — stumbled upon a magical formula that would birth what has become Texas country. An elixir of hell-raising and beer drinking doesn’t seem like an original formula, but Fowler and his peers managed to take the party side of country living, breaded it in Texas imagery and deep fried it into an indulgence that young Texans rabidly consumed.
While songs of floating the Frio and drinking Shiner seem cliché today, they weren't back in the day. Fowler and company created it and lived it and thanks to some fortunate timing, were able to market it to the first generation of internet-savvy college students.
“I was just lucky enough to be around when this thing organically spawned,” Fowler recalls. “The birth of the internet really made this happen. It changed everything, because people could find us.”
In 2000, Fowler’s debut album Beer, Bait, and Ammo took off, largely in part because of its title track, which became a redneck national anthem of sorts. Tracks “100% Texan” and later “Texas Forever” stoked pride statewide, with Texans flocking to his shows to raise longnecks and sing along. It wasn’t long before Fowler had filled his 10-gallon hat full of honky-tonk party tunes that earned him the nickname “The Redneck Messiah.”
Over the years, critics have accused Fowler of pandering to his audience and scoffed at the shallowness of such songs as “Beach Please” and “Sellout Song,” both of which are downright campy. Fowler just shrugs it off. He’s never shied away from being goofy or even poking fun at himself. Just like nobody faults Willie Nelson for getting busted for smoking dope, Fowler's fans aren’t the least bit fazed when he delivers a line with his tongue in his cheek.
“I’ve have always had this inability to take my music or the whole music business too seriously," Fowler says. "I just want people to enjoy it and have fun. I get by with it somehow because it’s just the way I am.”
Through the years, Fowler, now 52, also has been known to drop some heartfelt, traditional country ballads. “A Hard Man To Love” and “Best Mistake I Ever Made” are two fan favorites, and he hopes to add his latest single, “Country Song To Sing,” to that list. Penned by Wynn Varble and Jay Knowles, the song reflects on how music intertwines with our lives and how some songs inextricably tie to moments in our past.
“It’s a great country song with great lyrics. I think everybody can relate to it,” Fowler says. “No matter what stage you're at in life, you always have a country song to sing, a song that will always remind you of that exact time in your life.”
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“Country Song To Sing” is one of 10 tracks on Fowler’s new record set to release in March. With the single is also a new video, featuring lots of home movie footage from Fowler's childhood.
This Friday, Fowler will lead the party once again when he takes the stage at the world’s largest honky-tonk. Since getting started, he’s played Billy Bob’s Texas more than 30 times, each time just as bombastic and fun as the last. With the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo still in full swing, you can bet Cowtown will be hopping.