Kevin Bowe’s recommendation: “If you held a gun to my head and made me name just ONE band or artist that has influenced the way I hear, play, record and write music I would have to say The Replacements. If you listen to my stuff, this would come as no surprise! I wear my love of their music on my sleeve.
I was lucky enough to get in on their stuff right from the beginning and they caught me at just the right time; I was 19, it was 1980 and since corporate rock had taken over the radio since about 1976 or so, I was feeling very disenfranchised from music in general. Also, I had just quit smoking pot so a lot of the bands I had been listening to just didn’t sound as good to me any more. When I saw these guys play, it was not exactly a breath of fresh air, more like sucking on a big belch from a dirty diesel burning train. I knew they weren’t the “best” band in the world but I also knew they were my favorite band in the world. Still are probably.
Not unlike pizza or sex, when they were good, they were VERY, VERY good and even when they were bad they were kinda good. After being subjected to years of slick corporate rock that was always perfect, this band was SUCH A FUCKING RELIEF!!!! Why did I like them so much? First is because of Paul Westerberg’s songwriting. He was the first American punk rock (or whatever you wanna call it) guy to instill classic songwriting values a la Hank Williams Sr. or Bob Dylan into this trashy style of music. Most early punk was more based on style than songwriting and he was the one to open my eyes into that world of great songwriting. Second was his voice – a mixture of sweet and sour that I just found instantly familiar and believable. So it was a combination of his stories and the voice he told them in. Third was the dynamic of the whole band, each one so idiosyncratic, kind of like The Who, Zeppelin or The Band, they were each so weird and unique that they were (ironically) irreplaceable. Even without the original members, Paul’s stuff was compelling enough to keep me riveted but the original line up did have a thing to it that will never be replicated.”
New to The Replacements? Kevin suggests you start here: “If a Martian came down here to earth and asked me “what’s all this about The Replacements?” I would probably say that Mr. Spaceman should listen to Pleased To Meet Me. Many people have very strong opinions on what record was the best and I truly love them all, every single one, but it’s pretty hard to beat songs like Alex Chilton and IOU. I was lucky enough to tour with Paul as his guitarist and I think and I pretty much lost my mind every time we would light into one of those songs. They really haven’t lost any of their meaning or feeling to me over the years.”
About our guest author, Kevin Bowe: If you’re not hip to Kevin Bowe, now is the perfect time to jump on the bandwagon. Kevin started playing in local Minneapolis punk and rock bands in the ’80s, but he really found his niche as a songwriter, penning hits with and for Etta James (who loved his writing so much, she cooed, “These songs are so bad, you bring it on back home like the Rolling Stones. Are you a white boy?” Full story on Minnpost.com), Jonny Lang, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Richie Sambora, Three Dog Night and Delbert McClinton. In 2005, he landed the gig of his dreams backing Paul Westerberg on his US tour. Bowe also fronts The Okemah Prophets, which has released two records that snagged plenty of critical praise. Here in 2012, Bowe and the band gift us with Natchez Trace, Bowe’s first full-length offering of new material in over 10 years. On the collection, Kevin hosts an all-star party in the form of collaborations with the best-of-the-best in the biz, including a co-written song with Paul Westerberg himself (Everybody Lies, below, which also features a scorching guitar solo from Wilco’s guitar maestro, Nels Cline) and various contributions from the Jayhawks’ Tim O’Reagan, Freedy Johnston, Chuck Prophet and Scarlet Rivera (Dylan’s violin player, Rolling Thunder Revue era). The album is the perfect entry point for new listeners, so jump over to http://kevinbowe.com/, pick up the record and be sure to check his upcoming gigs while you’re there.