Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers’ ‘Hold My Beer, Vol. 2′ Highlights Life’s Humor
Humor has long been an important part of country music. From Hank Williams singing about being in the doghouse (literally) to Brad Paisley's knack for delivering quirky yet relevant lyrics, the genre's artists have always known that it's okay to be a little silly from time to time.
With their new album, Hold My Beer, Vol. 2, Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers continue country's comedy line. Their second studio album as a duo (following 2015's Hold My Beer, Vol. 1), the project is, Rogers tells The Boot, an outlet for the two Texas country artists and good buddies.
"It lets us do something that we normally don't do in our own music, which, mine is usually sad and heartbreaking and 'She left me and I'm drunk,' and, you know, 'She broke my heart and I'm devastated,'" Rogers says, ever-so-lightly poking a bit of fun at himself. "This is opposite, right? This is goofy, funny, lighthearted. Onstage, we almost take on different personas."
It was onstage, in fact, that both of Bowen and Rogers' Hold My Beer projects had their genesis. The two have, for over a decade, been playing live together, and the albums reflect the shows' goofy-but-traditionally-country ethos. Vol. 2, out Friday (May 8), features material from Bowen and Rogers, along with well-known tunesmiths including Jon Randall and Jim Beavers; singer-songwriters Lori McKenna, Ryan Beaver and Josh Abbott; and even an Asleep at the Wheel collaboration and a never-released track by Waylon Jennings.
"That's a challenge as writers: It's different from what we do with our normal careers, in our normal records. And it's a challenge to write those songs, and to write country songs, that fit," Bowen points out. However, he adds, "every time we go in, so far, to the studio, we've had a vision of how the record is going to go, and it's pretty cool how easily it comes out."
Bowen and Rogers play off each other -- and poke fun at each other -- on Hold My Beer, Vol. 2's 12 tracks: the unexpected breakup song "Rodeo Clown," the wistful "This Ain't My Town" and the cautionary tale that is "Her," among others. The country music cannon, in addition to its history of humor, also contains plenty of male duets (Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, for example): another tradition that the pair are happy to carry on.
"You look at both studio records we've done, and it's paying homage to those guys, showing our respects," Bowen says, noting both the record's collaborations with Jennings and Asleep at the Wheel, and its track "Let Merle Be Merle." "It's definitely on our minds constantly as we're doing this because they were so successful with it, and just make sense."
That song, in fact, is a good indication of Bowen and Rogers' M.O. with their Hold My Beer records: It's a Western swing track that reflects on everything that changes in the world -- but, more importantly, everything that doesn't need to change.
"Randy and I grew up in dance halls ... getting the courage up to ask the girls to dance and things like that," Bowen says. "We love to, like, sit around, crack some beers and take turns on playing old, sad country songs and making everybody cry. That's what we grew up on. So I just wanted really to make sure that ["Let Merle Be Merle"] paid respects to all those songs.
"Love of country music," he adds. "That's what this whole project is about."
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