Even though they're not actually from Dallas, Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers have a pretty substantial following in our fair city. There is likely no genre of music that is more popular than Texas country in the area (or the state, even), and these two guys have been a fixture of the scene for a really long time. With nearly two-dozen records between them and countless performances in Texas bars, Bowen and Rogers -- who performs at WinStar World Casino this Friday -- have finally come together to record one of the most highly anticipated collaborations in Texas country history.
The forthcoming album, titled Hold My Beer Vol. 1, will be released in full on April 20. Last week, though, Bowen and Rogers debuted "Standards," a tongue-in-cheek look at the abysmal state of Nashville, complete with a heavy dose of footage that highlights the bromance between Bowen and Rogers. Put simply, this is a track with a message and it doesn't mind being a little silly to get the point across.
The track starts with Bowen singing about meeting with a Nashville record executive, who brings him a pile of crappy, cliché songs to record. He turns them down, saying, "I don't have hits, I've got standards." Given both artists' brief brush with Nashville stardom, it isn't hard to believe that this scenario actually happened to one or both of them. In fact, it seems as if this relationship is based on a great deal of mutual respect, and on-the-road pranks may be born a little bit out of their own frustration with the mainstream country music industry.
It has always been difficult for Texas artists to break into Nashville, at least since the red-dirt sound has become increasingly popular over the last two decades. The sound here is different, not always a fit for the mediocre wasteland that is country radio. On "Standards," though, Bowen and Rogers are subtly making the argument that the music is better here, thanks to artists who seemingly refuse to compromise to satisfy the whims of the mainstream.
Upon first listen, it's easy to think that Bowen and Rogers are just being silly, thanks to their surprisingly good dance moves and overall jokey manner. But this track is much more of a pointed barb directed at record execs who are determined to make a quick buck on the latest trends as opposed to genuinely being interested in cultivating the genre. The real irony, of course, is that plenty of Texas country fans accused Bowen and Rogers of "selling out" as they went to Nashville in hopes of bringing their sound to a broader audience.
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With their cheeky response, namely the lyric, "How can I sell out when I barely sell at all?" Bowen and Rogers happily prove those critics wrong. Their sound is traditional as ever -- "Standards" is a perfect dancehall tune, full of old-school country influence -- and still thoroughly Texan. More than that, they're making a clear argument that artists shouldn't have to compromise their sound or their "Standards" in order to have a hit record.
In Hold My Beer, an album that grew out of the occasional Rogers-Bowen tour of the same name, the two have given Texas country artists more ammunition for that argument they've been making all along -- the music is more authentic in Texas, more attuned to tradition and what listeners actually want. Most importantly, though, they've created one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year for fans that are practically begging for better, more authentic country music.
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