Wade Bowen & Randy Rogers Hold My Beer & Watch This Tour

Wade Bowen & Randy Rogers Hold My Beer & Watch This Tour (9:15 PM)

Sam Outlaw (8:30 PM)

Thu, September 10, 2015

8:00 pm

Adv Tix $16.00 / Day of Show Tix $18.00

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Wade Bowen & Randy Rogers Hold My Beer & Watch This Tour - (Set time: 9:15 PM)
Wade Bowen & Randy Rogers Hold My Beer & Watch This Tour
Roughly halfway through Hold My Beer: Volume 1 — the new album from longtime friends Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen — a record company executive approaches Rogers with an opportunity for the respected country singer to score a chart success with a song "about a dirt road." Rogers obliges, politely listens to the song, then wryly rebuffs the offer with a twinkle in his eye and a sly, cunning bit of wordplay: "I don't have hits – I've got standards."

That one line —playful, funny and honest — serves as the perfect summary statement for Hold My Beer, a record that's part road movie, part joke book, part Western philosophy but, above all else, is the story of enduring friendship and the value of personal integrity, Saturday night dance parties and a couple of good, stiff drinks. What's more, it's a story told by two artists whose individual careers are years deep. They both boast a string of acclaimed records and command large audiences nationally, but Hold My Beer grew out of the pair's decade-long, house-packing acoustic tour they started doing just for the fun of it.

"It became obvious to us that we should write the story of our friendship," explains Bowen, "How we met, how we became friends." That story began 15 years ago, when Rogers dropped by one of Bowen's gigs. "I invited him back to the house – nicknamed ‘the White House’ — to jam," Rogers explains. "The house sat on a big lot so we never worried about our music waking the neighbors. We usually had a keg tapped and staying up all night playing music was a regular thing. Anyway, the next thing you know, we're here, 15 years later."

That sense of camaraderie and personal history comes through in each of Hold My Beer's ten songs. Musically, the songs are rich and layered – big, oaky acoustic guitars, swooping fiddles and lap steel that chuckles at every punchline; that's no surprise, given that the album was produced by the legendary Lloyd Maines. "Lloyd's not only one of the most talented people on the planet, he might be one of the funniest, too," says Rogers. "He's a genius. He's smart, and he knows how to make each musician play in order to be the best version of themselves."

That "best version" comes through again and again on Hold My Beer. In the rollicking album-opener "In the Next Life," Bowen and Rogers outline the story of their lives together, from that first meeting at Wade’s show in San Marcos to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. They acknowledge every peak and valley along the way before concluding, "I guess that what they say is true, all you need is one good friend/ and in the next life, we wanna be ourselves again." Of that unique chemistry, Bowen explains, "We don't have to flip the 'entertainer' switch. We flip the 'friendship' switch. That’s what 'In the Next Life’ is about – how we became friends, and how that outshines everything else."

"'Til it Does’ opens with a bright, swaying guitar line and Bowen's warm voice sighing, "I never told her that I loved her, but I do." From there, it settles slowly and sadly into its wistful, indelible chorus. "The first time I heard it we were playing one of our acoustic shows together," Rogers recalls. "He played it, and by the time the second chorus came around, I knew the words and I was singing along. I looked at him when it was finished and said, "Did you write that? That's a damn good song. We gotta cut that."

Like so many songs on Hold My Beer, "'Til It Does" is a showcase for the pair's deft and savvy skill as writers. They're able to summon strong, evocative images that convey deep meaning – avoiding cliché without ever sounding forced or labored. The songs go down smooth and smoky, like finely-aged whiskey.

They're also defined by a natural mood of exuberance. In the riled-up, boot-stomping "Lady Bug," they arc their voices up high over galloping banjo, pleading "Lady bug, lady bug, give me some good luck/ four-leaf clover, come on over."

"That was a real hard song to pull off, because I had a different vision for it than Randy did," Bowen says. "We kinda battled over how the song should go. Then we went out, started drinking vodka and beers, took a few shots –everybody just relaxed – and came back in the studio and did it in one take." Even the album's choice of cover songs – Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard's 1983 hit "Reasons to Quit," Haggard's 1978 song "It's Been a Great Afternoon" and Joe Ely's roaring "Hopes Up High" – are effortlessly made over in Rogers and Bowen's images, and feel as much a part of their story as their originals.

"'Reasons to Quit' really sums us up," Rogers says. "We play so many dates, we're gone so much from our families, the excesses of the road, the toll it takes on our bodies… We tried to sit down and write that song, and we realized, 'Fuck it – they already wrote it.'"

The song provides the perfect conclusion to the record. As fiddle saws slowly in the background, Bowen and Rogers itemize all of the hardships of being on the road and working as a touring musician, before defiantly concluding – as Nelson and Haggard did all those years ago – "The reasons to quit don't outnumber all the reasons why." It's a proud declaration from two men who have weathered a lot, but are still looking for the next party, and still ready to provide its soundtrack.
Sam Outlaw - (Set time: 8:30 PM)
Sam Outlaw
The future’s bright for the young Angeleno
And an old song plays in his head
Far as he knows. . .

These lines from the title track of Sam Outlaw's debut album Angeleno could almost serve as a haiku-like artist bio. Outlaw is a southern Californian singer-songwriter steeped in the music and mythos of west coast country, absorbing the classic vibes of everything from '60s Bakersfield honky-tonk to '70s Laurel Canyon troubadour pop and refashioning them into a sound that's pleasurably past, present and future tense.

“The music I play, I call 'SoCal country,'” says Outlaw. “It's country music but with a Southern California spirit to it. What is it about Southern California that gives it that spirit, I don't exactly know. But there's an idea that I like that says - every song, even happy songs, are written from a place of sadness. If there's a special sadness to Southern California it's that there's an abiding shadow of loss of what used to be. But then, like with any place, you have a resilient optimism as well.”

While he explores those shadows on the title track and the elegiac “Ghost Town,” Outlaw mostly comes down on the side of the optimists through Angeleno's dozen tracks. Opener “Who Do You Think You Are?” breezes in with south of the border charm, all sunny melody wrapped in mariachi horns, while “I'm Not Jealous” is a honky-tonker with a smart twist on the you-done-me-wrong plot. “Love Her For A While” has the amiable lope of early '70s Poco, “Old Fashioned” the immediacy of a touch on the cheek, and the future Saturday night anthem “Jesus Take The Wheel (And Drive Me To A Bar)” shows Outlaw has a sense of humor to match his cowboy poet nature. Throughout, producers Ry and Joachim Cooder frame the material with spare, tasteful arrangements, keeping the focus on Outlaw's voice. And it's a voice that indeed seems to conjure up California in the same way as Jackson Browne's or Glenn Frey's. Easy on the ears, open-hearted, always with an undertow of melancholy.

Outlaw's journey west began in South Dakota - he was born Sam Morgan -with stops in the midwest before his family finally settled in San Diego. Like many artists, he got the music bug early. But he had serious restrictions on what he could listen to. “I grew up in a conservative Christian home,” he explains. “My first real communal experience with music was in church. I always loved harmonizing with other people. And even though I was technically not allowed to listen to the radio, my dad loved the Beatles. My mom loved the Beach Boys and the Everly Brothers. So we listened to oldies radio, and I think got my first sense of melody and harmony from that.”

After what he calls an “unfortunate” high school cover band (“We did almost all Oasis,” he laughs) and some early stabs at songwriting in college, Outlaw's moment of revelation arrived via the classic country voices of Emmylou Harris and George Jones. “When I first heard them, it totally blew my mind,” he says. “I went out the next day and bought Pieces of The Sky and a George Jones compilation. It was the first time I felt like I had a real special connection with music. That's when I started to get more serious about playing the guitar and writing.”

After switching gears from a day job in Ad sales to pursue his passion, Outlaw marked the change by borrowing his mother's maiden name for a stage moniker. “The initial impetus for using Outlaw was no more than, 'Hey, this is a name that sounds country and it's a family name, so why not?'” he says. “Now, with my mom having passed away and her being a really strong encouragement in my life towards music, I like using the name as a way of honoring her.”

He wasted no time doing his mom proud. A self-released EP in 2014, buzz about his live shows, slots at Stage Coach and AmericanaFest, a video on CMT. Meanwhile, as he prepared to self-produce his first-full length album, his drummer Joachim Cooder played some rough demos for his father, legendary guitarist Ry Cooder.

“When Ry expressed interest in working with me, it was just, 'Holy shit, I can't believe it!'” says Outlaw. “I mean, there's no sweeter person to make a 'country music in Southern California record about Southern California.' He's a master of so many genres.”

To get familiar with the material, Cooder sat in with Outlaw's band. “Before we got in the studio, Ry had already played four shows with us. It helped him curate which members of my band would work best for the live tracking. I was thinking that we'd have five rehearsals before the studio, get everything super tight, then go in and knock it out of the park. But Ry said, 'The band knows the songs. Let's leave some room for life to happen when we get in there.' I liked that he had faith in the players and the songs that we didn't need to over-rehearse. And throughout the sessions, he was on top of every nook and cranny of the arrangements. ”

Recording in Megawatt Studios in Los Angeles, with a band that included Bo Koster (My Morning Jacket), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Gabe Witcher (Punch Brothers) and Chuy Guzmán (Linda Ronstadt), Outlaw heard the album he always dreamed of coming to life. “Ninety percent of what you're hearing is still the five of us in a room performing a song,” he says. “Ry plays on every song, electric and acoustic on the basics. And then all the overdubs he did were just insanely beautiful. He was able to make magic happen on every track.

The resulting record has the timeless feel of those that inspired Outlaw. It is also almost defiantly non-trendy. Does he worry about fitting in with a country scene teeming with bros and Bon Jovi wannabes? “This whole debate about what country music is or isn't, bro country versus traditional, americana versus ameripolitan, it's all pretty boring to me,” he says. “I think I made the distinction of SoCal country because I know that people crave classification. Ultimately I think that the music will speak for itself.”

As Outlaw gears up to support Angeleno with tour dates opening for Dwight Yoakam and Clint Black (“Two of my heroes,” he says), he's hopeful not only for his own record but a comeback of the music he loves. “I've made it a personal mission to remind people how great country music is,” he says. “And specifically, I want to remind them that Southern California has a really rich history with country music. Even though there hasn't been a scene here for a long time, there has been a noticeable resurgence. If I can be involved in some kind of revival in the spirit of this music, that would make me very proud.”
Venue Information:
Troubadour
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069
http://www.troubadour.com/

All lineups and times subject to change