Waco Chat

Having a Drink With Wade Bowen

By Kevin Tankersley

Singer-songwriter & Founder of Bowen MusicFest

“We close out the night with a family jam atmosphere.”

[The festival] actually started as a golf tournament. Then we expanded into having music after the golf tournament, just acoustic. Then we expanded into having a full-on show after the golf. Then we expanded to two separate days. Now it’s a three-day event, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

I had big goals and visions for it, but I don’t think I ever got this big. It’s been a lot of fun to see it grow like it has. There’s a lot of hard-working people [who make it happen].

Bowen chose to meet at Poppa Rollo’s Pizza on Valley Mills Drive. “I’ve been coming here since I was a kid. It’s always been our family pizza spot. Every family has to have a pizza spot; it’s part of being a family, right? I think every time I come back to Waco I make it a point to stop here. I love it.”
Bowen ordered a Shiner Bock in a frosty mug, for a variety of reasons. He has a business relationship with Shiner, for one thing, and he likes the product. “I just love everything about them, everything they represent. This is just the way I feel like my career is. Everything is small-town family atmosphere. They just represent that to me,” he said.

It’s something different from most music festivals. We start the music at 2 [p.m.], and we put the headliner on early, about 6 or 6:30 [p.m.]. We let them do their thing, then we close out the night with a family jam atmosphere. My band rehearses and practices, and we get 10 or 12 of my friends and artists, and we do like a 3 1/2-hour jam after the headliner, and it goes until the wee hours of the morning.

That’s a lot of fun because we learn everybody else’s songs. We play a couple of mine, then bring a buddy out and play a couple of theirs. It’s just nonstop music for 3 1/2 hours. It’s something really cool because you get to see the friendship, the bonding we all have.

It’s something unique to our event that I’m really, really proud of. It’s a lot of work. You’re learning 20 to 25 songs you’re not used to playing every night. That’s a lot of work on our band, but they do a really good job with that. It’s a lot of fun.

[The foundation’s] mission statement includes anything involving children or families. We keep all the money raised in this community within the community. Then people can submit a reason as to why they need the money or why they need the help. We go through and figure out who we can help the best.

We keep it very broad, and I love that. It gives us the most opportunities to help the most people we can. If we just said children, it cuts off a lot of people who really need help.

When you start a foundation, you have to be very intentional in what you try to do. We tried to keep it as broad as possible. We’ve tried to help anybody and everybody we can.