Thursday, August 10th
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 Beergrew 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.”