Finally got around to posting this… I did indeed go to the Kevin Fowler show in Coupland on Dec. 11 and had a hell of a time. Country isn’t my main music, but I have a lot of respect for this Amarillo native. He has a gift for writing great country songs and really knows how to put on a show.
Fowler definitely has a following. The crowd knew and could sing along with all but his newest songs. Catchy and funny, they had that in-your-face brashness that you find in the best country music, songs with a message: yeah I’m a redneck and this is what I like, I’m having fun and who cares what you think?
His songs and between-song banter cracked me up. “Don’t Touch My Willie” (about a guy who won’t let a girl play his Willie Nelson on the first date) is the song that won me over years ago. “I heard they arrested ol’ Willie for smokin’ pot the other day,” he said before the song. “That’s like arresting the Pope for prayin’.” Amen, Brother.
“Knocked Up” is only a year old, but it already has the ring of a Kevin Fowler classic. “You got knocked up, I got locked up. I guess we both got screwed. Well you got locked out, And I got knocked out. And I guess you’re gonna miss a lot of school.” Haha. Not an ounce of PC in this guy.
I loved when they got creative. A cover of Guns ‘N’ Roses’ “Paradise City” segued into “Loose, Loud & Crazy.” They did an extended, funky version of “Deck the Halls,” featuring a very impressive solo by bassist Gary Herman. Queen’s “Fat Bottom Girls” got a nice country twist.
“Beer, Bait & Ammo” and “Beer Season” were other clever redneck lifestyle songs that made me chuckle.
I only wish he had started a bit earlier. He didn’t go on till after 11 p.m. The opening act, Jeremy Steding, a baby-faced singer from Austin with a voice that reminded me of Johnny Cash – was OK, but he played for going on two hours and I was definitely ready for the main act after one hour.
One thing that really struck me was how cosmopolitan the crowd was. If you have the idea that country fans are all a bunch of backwoods hicks you are way off. Nice cars in the parking lot, plenty of expensive iPhones on display, plenty of college T-shirts. Also, while the DJ put on a lot of well-received country music, some of the most popular tunes were rock ‘n’ roll – AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” and Billy Squier’s “Stroke Dance” went over very well, but the one that had everyone rushing to the dance floor was a hip hop/dance number called “Cupid Shuffle” by Cupid.
On the other hand, I knew I was in the country by the fact that I got into the show at all. They somehow forgot to leave the tickets I was promised at the front. But the guy at the door actually believed my (true) story and let us in. If that had happened in Austin, they would’ve sent us packing. “I’m on the guest list.” Yeah, that’s what they all say. I guess he figured the dancehall would make some money selling us beer, which they did.
When you get down to it, Fowler isn’t just country. He makes Texas Country. I went to the show with a friend who is a bigger country fan than I am. She describes Texas Country as a bit rawer and rougher than the regular stuff and it tends not to get played that much nationwide. Judging from Kevin Fowler, a tendency to rock might be a part of it — Fowler has a definite sense of rock ‘n’ roll, having played in a metal band for a short time. But I think in a way it’s actually more country than country.
I remember reading a piece about the music industry where a country singer complained that he couldn’t get signed in Nashville because he was told he was “too country.” Too country for country? Apparently that’s a problem in mainstream country. They’re always looking for a crossover hit that will make everyone tons of money. Strip away the steel guitar and Southern accent and you often get a typical American pop song.
Guys like Kevin Fowler don’t appear to be concerned with that. They’re the musical offspring of folks like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and David Allan Coe. They are who they are, like it or lump it. And their fans love them for it.