From pubs to arenas, from dance halls to county fairs, the name Kevin Fowler always means a full house and cheering crowds. With his new CD Bring It On , Kevin delivers 100% Texan country with style. And if there's something different about Kevin, it's that inside his pearl-buttoned Western shirt beats a heart of rock.
That's no surprise to his myriad of fans who know every word of his honky-tonk anthems such as Beer, Bait, and Ammo,The Lord Loves a Drinking Man and Loose, Loud and Crazy. In Bring It On 's new single, Long Line of Losers, Kevin pokes fun at what he calls that somebody in everyone's family who annoys them, the relative who gets too drunk at the family reunion. It's a way of laughing at yourself.
Down-home humor and heartfelt sentiment are prominent themes in Kevin's music, and as important as a good beat. A native of Amarillo who grew up listening to Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard, Kevin rounded out his musical education in Los Angeles attending the Guitar Institute of Technology, and then returned to Texas to join the award-winning hard rock band Dangerous Toys. He dabbled with his own Southern rock band, Thunderfoot, in the late '90s before turning his full attention to his own vision of music.
Calling Kevin country rock sounds too tame. Southern country might be closer to the soul of his hybrid of Southern rock and country music. It's the preferred music of a new generation of country fans. These savvy 20- and 30-somethings were raised on MTV as well as CMT. Their appreciation of country is evenly matched by a taste for rock 'n' roll, and no one knows that better than Kevin.
Our fans listen to us, to AC/DC and to Buckcherry, says Kevin. They want to hear what we want to play. They're a very open-minded audience. We can mix it all together, and they like it. I have Merle and Metallica next to each other on my iPod.
That open-minded, sophisticated sensibility of country's new audience is important to Kevin and played a large part in assembling Bring It On . His live shows incorporate the usual trappings of a big rock 'n' roll show with atmospheric smoke, bright colored lights and elaborate staging.
I wanted this record to resemble and sound like the live show, he says. There are a lot of songs on Bring It On that I wouldn't have cut before. They're too rock, and I didn't want to freak anyone out. But one thing I've learned about our fans is that they don't want a traditional record out of me. I can throw some screaming guitar in and crank the drums up. I can be more adventurous.
Adventurous, yes. Yet Kevin, whose songs often begin as a sticky note on the dash of my truck as I'm driving around, deeply understands the values held by country audiences. He may encourage the fans to party like a rock star on Feels Good Don't It, but he gets a jones for Jones, a hankering for Hank on I Pulled a Hank Last Night.
Each new recording brings Kevin close to his heroes, and it was hard to equal a previous duet with Willie Nelson, but singing with George Jones on Me and the Boys did the trick. We sent George the lyrics and in a week we were in Nashville cutting it, he recalls with the grin of a little boy who's just gotten the Christmas present he wanted.
For Kevin Fowler, the country rebel with a heart of rock, Bring It On is as good as it gets. This CD is where we've been, where we're going and where we are right now, a snapshot of us frozen in time.