We are excited to announce that the speakers on the Artist Panel for this year’s Texas Music Seminar will be Wade Bowen, Parker McCollum, and Bri Bagwell!
The panel will provide the attendees of the Texas Music Seminar the opportunity to hear the stories of these artist’s beginnings, pick their brains, hear about their early mistakes, and ask them career-related questions!
These 3 outstanding artists join a seminar lineup of booking agents, managers, talent buyers, festival organizers, producers, lawyers, radio promoters, radio personnel, chart editors, distributors, marketers, bloggers, brand experts and the Global Head of Country Music at Spotify!
The seminar will take place December 3rd and 4th at the Hilton College Station and Conference Center. Only 250 tickets will be made available and we are expecting to sell out! More info on our Texas Music Seminar can be found here: http://www.texasmusicpickers.com/texas-music-seminar-2018/
Wade Bowen Bio
Waco native Wade Bowen began recording Solid Ground intent on making the artistic statement of his career – a high bar considering the twenty years of success he’s enjoyed – but as his personal odometer rolled over into his fourth decade, his focus is more on legacy than next Saturday night.
“I started thinking, ‘how much longer can I do this and matter as a writer?’ My thinking is, I hope I can be like Guy Clark at 72 years old, still making great records that people still give a damn about. So I took my time with every aspect of this process.”
Solid Ground is personal but not necessarily autobiographical, peppered with distinct south-of-the-border imagery of “Acuna,” and the nostalgic reflection of “So Long Sixth Street.” Rolling Stone spoke well of “Day of the Dead,” noting “the mariachi influence, with accordion, Spanish guitar and a horn section augmenting Bowen’s more familiar Red Dirt shuffle.” The combination is Bowen’s signature – Texas flavor strongly spicing his mix of country, blues, rock and Americana.
The parched scenery, weathered outlook and gravelly vocals created a less-than-pristine album that was championed by producer Keith Gattis. Writing and vocal contributions from Andrew Combs, Jack Ingram, Waylon Payne, Angaleena Presley, Jon Randall, Lucie Silvas, and Charlie Worsham, among others.
“I wanted to be pushed more than I’ve ever been pushed… but I guess be careful what you ask for,” Bowen laughed. “I wrote every day in the studio with Gattis. He wanted me there early to write every morning and we were recording before I even knew what the song was going to be.”
As for Keith Gattis, the mission was clear to them both, “I started working with Wade knowing two things: One, this isn’t a guy who was going to rest on his laurels, he wanted to respect tradition but shake it up. Two, he earned his rep as a rocker and entertainer years ago…this album is about Wade as a musician and songwriter. The first time I saw Wade play years ago was in a Texas dancehall. Usually, the band plays standards and the crowd is there to two-step. But Wade was part of a “new scene.” It was the first time I saw a crowd rush to the stage like it was rock show.”
Gattis continued, “As we were writing, we reminisced a lot. A festival down in Lajitas we’d played or the beer halls in Texas – that vibe snuck into the writing. This definitely isn’t an “any town” album, it’s about where Wade’s from. But the storytelling is honest and that makes it relatable. We also had the benefit of a band of rock star players and songwriters. Audley Freed (Black Crowes) on guitar brought his roots rock approach, as did Jeff Trotts (Sheryl Crow) on guitar and lapsteel, Fred Eltringham (Wallflowers, Willie Nelson, Robert Plant) on drums, Billie Mercer (Ryan Adams, Lucinda Williams) on bass, and great players on keys like Jenn Gunderman (Sheryl Crow), Rami Jaffee (Wallflowers, Foo Fighters), John Henry Trinko (Randy Houser).”
The most demanding writing and recording experience of his career has captured a singular creative period and created a cohesive album. The result is infinitely more satisfying than writing watered down tunes for the broadest audience possible. Enter Thirty Tigers, the Nashville-based champions of Bowen’s sound and vision.
“I’ve been a fan of Wade’s since Lost Hotel,” says Thirty Tigers’ Co-founder and President David Macias. “I’ve dutifully asked over the years about Wade coming into the family, and I could not be more excited about him finally saying yes! He’s a gifted storyteller and a great performer. And this album is fantastic.”
Along with crediting producer Keith Gattis for what Solid Ground has become, Bowen heaps praise on Texas brethren like George Strait, Stevie Ray Vaughan, ZZ Top and Robert Earl Keen who have paved the way sonically for the not-quite-country, not-quite-rock sound aimed at those who view Springsteen, Tom Petty and Mellencamp as influential as Guy Clark.
Bowen said contemporaries like Jack Ingram, who appears on the record, are quick to lend a hand in the studio or to appear at fundraising live music jams for the Bowen Family Foundation that have raised more than $2.5 million for family and children’s charities throughout Texas.
Bowen’s mission to set himself apart as a songwriter is driven in part by wanting to measure up to an almost impossible standard (Clark). He wonders if he or any other current musician will ever be able to measure up in any meaningful way.
“Solid Ground hits the bar more than anything I’ve never done before. It has an edge and the balls we’ve always had live but hadn’t gotten down on a record until now,” he said. “I don’t know if Guy Clark would like the record, but I’d feel comfortable playing those songs on a stage with him and asking him what he thought.”
With Solid Ground, Bowen has made his clearest statement. It’s the one that took him 40 years to make, and the wait and hard work to get there has been worth it.
Parker McCollum Bio
Parker McCollum comes from a no-nonsense, hard-working family. His was the sort of upbringing where “if you’re going to do something and you’re not going to do it one-hundred percent; you shouldn’t do it all.” It’s why this 25-year-old treats each song he writes with a painstaking level of dedication, reverence, and — as he readily admits — even a bit of obsession.
Parker says when a particular melody, lyric or emotion tugs at him he might stay in his room for days working on it. He can’t help himself.
That’s because, for the Austin-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, the result is worth the painstaking process. Parker — who broke out with the revealing and critically adored 2013 debut The Limestone Kid and returned with the acclaimed, Probably Wrong — says, “its like the songwriting muse takes over. I don’t choose when it hits me, but when it does, I pay attention — and it’s always worth the focus it asks of me.“
Probably Wrong (Nov. 10, 2017), pulls back the curtain to reveal Parker’s depth of artistry. The 10-track LP, written after the dissolution of a long-term relationship, is equal parts self-flagellating and transcendent. It is also the most honest he has ever been in song. There’s an inherent pain that bleeds through in the raw transparency of stunning songs including “I Can’t Breathe” and “Hell of a Year.” For Parker, putting his most intimate thoughts and feelings to song is more of a welcome relief than an act of bloodletting. “I don’t talk about my feelings very often,” he notes. “I keep a lot of things in most of the time, and I don’t want anybody else to have to deal with my stuff. So, I write songs instead.”
In the wake of The Limestone Kid’s release, and its lead single “Meet You in the Middle” finding success at regional radio, McCollum says “in the blink of an eye” his life drastically changed.” The then-22-year-old went from a life goofing off with his buddies and passing his days strumming the guitar to traveling from one gig to the next, not as a “nobody,” but rather a revered traveling musician with a fervent fan-base. McCollum always wanted to be a singer-songwriter, but he admits he was caught a bit off guard by the buzz around Limestone. “I felt like I was playing catch up for two years,” he says.
In speaking with McCollum, it’s easy to detect the sense of wonderment and romance he still attaches to the brutally honest songwriters he first revered during his teenage years. Men like Townes Van Zandt, Todd Snider, Steve Earle and James McMurtry — even as a wide-eyed and innocent young man, McCollum sensed these musicians were speaking to a more powerful truth.
“It would jerk my soul out of me,” he says of encountering and quickly becoming enamored with their music and subsequently dedicating his life to molding songs of a similarly revealing bent. “There’s nothing else I’ve ever encountered that has had as much influence on me,” he explains. “That’s all I wanted to listen to. It was my thing.”
To that end, when he began writing the songs that would ultimately comprise Probably Wrong, McCollum felt it necessary to be alone with little more than his emotions and a guitar. “I needed to write this record and be on my own,” he says of what led him to end a two-year relationship and retreat inward. “I felt very misunderstood throughout the entire situation,” he adds. “I broke my own heart for the first time just to write this record.” For six weeks, McCollum did nothing but stare at a piece of paper filled with soul-crushing lyrics and engage with his sadness. “And I’m not a sad person,” he says with a laugh. “But I had done it to myself … intentionally.”
The pain still lingers, but McCollum says accessing it to write his new album allowed him to pen some of his most poignant material to date. “Hell of a Year,” which he calls his “sleeper favorite of the record,” came from McCollum breaking down one night in his truck in a fast-food parking lot. “My heart’s out of love/I fell out of line/I swore I’d never leave again/And I lied,” he sings over a gentle acoustic guitar figure. “When I set out to write this record this was the type of song I was gunning for,” he says of “Hell of a Year.” “It was the hardest song I’ve ever written as far as being that honest. But after doing so, I could go back to being happy for a little bit.” On the slow-rolling “Misunderstood,” the singer throws his hands in the air and makes peace with what he can’t control. “You told me I was no good/It’s alright babe/I’m pretty used to being misunderstood.”
Singing such soul-baring songs is a decidedly therapeutic act for McCollum. “When the melody is so spot-on, and it hooks me, everything that I have been bottling up or not talking about comes out.” It’s why the singer says he lives to perform. “Next to songwriting my live show is most important,” he offers.
Though seeing as many of his gigs are rowdy, upbeat affairs, he says he searches for the right moments to pepper his set with more emotional numbers. “I’m constantly trying to find ways to make our live show better,” he says. “I take cues from the fans who show up night after night — I pay attention to what songs they sing along to, what makes them move, smile, holler or just dance. I work to meet them where they are and take them higher. I have the best job in the world.”
The goal going forward then, Parker insists, is to continue to invest in his craft; to grow. He reveres musicians like John Mayer — who Rolling Stone Country compared him to in its January “New Country Artists You Need To Know” list — whom he says are always redefining their creativity. He intends to do the same. “My goal is to evolve and step into a new version of myself with each record I make,” McCollum says. “It’s about challenging myself to dig deeper. As much as I do this for the fans, it’s also for me, and stepping up into the artist I know I can be.”
Bri Bagwell Bio
In My Defense, is a collection of ten carefully crafted songs that give her fans an inside peek of how this girl chasing a dream for over fifteen years, has blossomed into the woman living those dreams.
As the record kicks in, haunting, echoey guitars set a tone of where the listener is going to go. “Asphalt & Concrete,” the first song on the record, paints a picture of a desert girl cutting loose and losing a bit of herself in the big city. Bri soars vocally as she sings, “Well I’m into sunsets and I love the sand, but I wasn’t myself in a disrupted land, with buildings and people and too many drinks in my hand.” Bri is constantly flirting with the lyric as she tussles, barefoot on the streets of Austin.
“If you were a Cowboy” follows and is the slated as the first single releasing to radio and streaming outlets. A hard driving, sexy, mid-tempo tune with just enough attitude, it gives listeners a resume of what it takes to capture a confident, hard-working woman’s heart. Bri explains, “This is the only song on the record I didn’t write. It wasn’t my intention to cut outside of my craft, but my producer Rachel Loy played me the song, and I instantly looked at her with ‘I-have-to-have-this’ eyes.” As this female anthem drives, “if you had real dust on your boots, the kind that’s passed down from your roots, I bet i would fall for you, if you were a cowboy,” every woman feels the need for a strong, hard-working man, but she also has no time for anything inauthentic.
“I am so proud of the record we have created, no matter how cliche that sounds. I have put everything I have, and every dollar to my name creating this record for myself and my fans. I truly believe it is the best record I have ever released, and the pressure I felt to create something great pushed me to the max. I embraced it. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.” With songs like “Cheat on Me,” (a co write with Courtney Patton), “Graffiti,” “Ring a Bell” (co write with Jody Booth), and “I Can’t Be Lonely,” each song takes on a autobiographical life of its own, but comes together in a cohesive image of the woman that sings them. “Rachel and I spent countless hours, concentrating and obsessing over every lyric, every melody… we tore apart and reconstructed anything necessary to make sure everything was exactly what the song truly needed. I think you can feel the work we put in when you listen to it.”
The CD’s last song, “Empty Chairs,” will strike a chord with her friends, peers, and mentors as a songwriter’s lament. Bri sheds light on the constant struggle that every touring musician battles: the rollercoaster of how live show attendance, record sales, and ticket counts are the benchmark of how performers are judged in this business, and the toll the size of the audience can take on their heart each night. It’s a song that lets the listener see inside of Bri’s dream, and how important each set of ears is to her. Naturally, doubt can enter one’s mind in any given situation; Bri shares how faith in her dream can at times be a struggle, despite her gratitude and obvious trust in the path God has chosen for her. She beautifully sings, “I’m grateful, but if they only knew, what’s behind three chords and the truth. They only get to see me at my best, but I’ve been cursed and I’ve been blessed, by the answer to my prayers. It’s hard to beat the thrill of a high, when I play a sold out night and feel like God has put me there. But Lord are you still with me, when i see Empty Chairs”. Simple, yet masterful in its message.
Music addict, a sucker for heartbreak songs, and avid Houston sports fan! I’am also the Editor-in-Chief of Texas Music Pickers.