Wednesday, August 29, 2012


“…nothing short of an Americana masterpiece.” -St. Cloud Times, naming Kevin Bowe’s new album “Natchez Trace” the best album of 2012

As a songwriter whose songs have been featured on Grammy winning albums and earned him a few platinum records, the fruits of Kevin Bowe’s labors are often given to other performers, but not this time. Natchez Trace is a personal compendium of rock, country and folk tunes that reflect his worldview and when it came time to record them, he did not mess around.  Bowe invited friends including Nels Cline (Wilco), Scarlett Rivera of Bob Dylan’s band, Chris and Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets, Freedy Johnston, Chuck Prophet and Tim O’Reagan of the Jayhawks to participate, among others. He collaborated with Paul Westerberg for “Everybody Lies”, one of the album’s highlights. Bowe has helmed an album that is notably organic – ten years in the making; his relaxed recording schedule left room for contributions from his friends dropping in from all points on the map as well as his band, the Okemah Pro phets.

And the mix of musicians is mind-boggling. Nels Cline lends his guitar to the Westerberg/Bowe tune, Scarlet Rivera’s violin underscores the haunting “In Too Deep”, “My Favorite Pain” features Andy Dee on lap steel and John Ely on pedal steel, The Meat Puppets add their own brand of insanity to "Devil's Garden" and the up-tempo “Waitin’ for the Wheel” features a killer lead guitar from Chuck Prophet.

The Okemah (Oh-kee-mah) Prophets came together for a SXSW showcase in 1998 and worked so well that the band started doing shows and recording albums. Led by guitarist/singer Kevin Bowe, the rhythm section is Peter Anderson on drums and Steve Price on bass. They’ve performed with bands like Los Lobos, Bob Mould, Freedy Johnston, BR549 and Peter Case over the years and have nominations in a number of categories from the Minnesota Music Academy.

Growing up in the ‘80s Minneapolis scene that produced Prince, Husker Du and The Replacements was a heady time, and Bowe played in several local punk bands before meeting uber-producer David Z (Prince, Fine Young Cannibals, Big Head Todd). He began writing for other artists – his first cut “Riverside” on Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s Warner Brothers debut Ledbetter Heights went platinum and led to a publishing deal. He became the first new writer signed by legends Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in over twenty years.  He went on to write for Jonny Lang on two platinum albums on A&M which led to songwriting collaborations with Leo Kottke, Robben Ford, Paul Westerberg (and the lead guitar spot in his band), Dan Wilson of Semisonic, Chuck  Prophet, John Mayall and Delbert McClinton among others. Hooking up with Etta James was a career highlight, Bowe wrote four songs on her Grammy-winning album, Let&rsqu o;s Roll.

Kevin’s songs have been featured in The Sopranos, The Tonight Show, Late Night with David Letterman, Boston Public, Austin City Limits, ESPN, VH1, CMT and MTV.

Kevin explained his modus operandi to City Pages recently, “…I own my own studio, so I don't have to trust anyone else, pay anyone else or wait for anyone else. I love that independence. I really don't like rules in music or being told what to do, whether it's by the major labels back in the day or by hipster music mafia people now. I think it was easy (but slow!) making this record because I made it ONLY for myself.”

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