Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers on the freedom of their joint acoustic tours: 'There's just no rules'
By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
The duo — long-time friends as well as two of the brightest stars on the Texas country circuit — started doing off-the-cuff acoustic tours together more than 15 years ago, a partnership that has lasted as both singers' careers have exploded and haas resulted, now, in two albums. Hold My Beer Vol. 1, a studio album, was released in 2015, and Watch This, a live album that better captures their on-stage chemistry, was released in June.
The guys are back on the road together now, including a 9 p.m. Wednesday show at Midnight Rodeo, 4400 S. Georgia St. Tickets are $20 in advance and $23 day of show for ages 21 and older, or $25 for ages 18 to 20.
Bowen and Rogers met around 2001 in San Marcos, after Bowen had brought his band down from Lubbock, where he attended Texas Tech University and started his music career.
"When we first met, neither of us had anything going at all," Bowen said. "We were just starting out, and we became friends pretty easily.
"It was real easy to hang out and talk about writing songs. It was easy to make a pact to do this together."
They did, becoming each others' allies and, in a sense, promoters as each band started building audiences across the state and region.
"We bounce off each other ideas about different booking agents, different beer labels, venues, festivals," Rogers said. "There's a strength in numbers."
Along the way, the singers started performing together in their off-hours.
"The tour came from us playing a lot of shows together in the beginning, trying to make a buck," Bowen said in an Aug. 5 joint telephone interview.
"We were the B Team, opening for whoever," Rogers said. "We didn't care, we were just getting cash for gas."
Both found their careers taking off, Rogers after the breakout success of 2004's Rollercoaster and Bowen with 2008's If We Ever Make It Home.
"I said that we should start branding our acoustic show and make it a thing," Bowen said. "We were enjoying hanging out with each other, so why not brand it and give it an image?"
Despite his business lingo, the Hold My Beer tours have thrived because it shows fans an unfiltered, laidback side to the singers.
"We don't have a set list. We don't even talk about it before we go on," Rogers said. "There's just no rules. I don't even know what song I'm going to play next. Sometimes, I get lost in what Wade is playing or what the crowd is doing and I start playing a song I haven't played in five or six years."
"Hangin' Out in Bars," Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers
"I think people love that about the show," Bowen added. "They see that we don't know what we're doing, like we're just two buddies at home, hanging on the porch and playing guitar."
That's the vibe they went for in Watch This, they said. But even Hold My Beer Vol. 1 benefited from their anything-goes attitudes.
"The original idea was to release a live, acoustic record and add a couple of studio tracks to the end," Bowen said. "When we got in the studio, we were having so much fun that I remember Randy saying it was too good to do just two or three songs.
"With this one, it was important to go back and let people know that this is an acoustic show that's built on the foundation of our friendship," he continued. "It was important to go back to how we started."
That's an attitude they try to impart on the Texas country singers coming up in their wake.
"I'm trying to preach to them that the way to go about it is to get three or four buddies, share the stage with each other, go out (on the road) with each other, to kind of form an alliance," Rogers said. "That doesn't happen a lot in Nashville. ... Texas is more conducive to that type of relationship between you and your buddies and your different bandmates.
"If you've got a strong, tight-knit group of people, it goes a long way. If a promoter has a Wade Bowen show and it goes well and (Bowen) speaks highly of me, it helps me," he continued. "It's kind of a no-brainer, but people are so busy trying to one-up each other they don't see the benefit of trying to promote other people besides yourself."
"Standards," Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers