You know that guy and his family. You always look forward to seeing him when you pull out of the driveway. Always there to give you a wave and a smile. Always available to lend a hand when it's needed. We all have that friend. And if you don't, well, meet Wade Bowen.
On Sunday, June 5th, 2016, Wade and his family hosted the Bowen Family Foundation's eighteenth annual Bowen MusicFest. It was day two of a three day event that included a sponsor appreciation dinner the day before and a charity golf tournament on the following day. But, Sunday was a day for his fans and musician friends to get together for a great cause. These were all of Wade's friends - musicians and fans. The genuine and humble performer worked non-stop on the stage and behind to make sure that everything ran smoothly and that everyone had a good time. The weather was beautiful on the banks of the Brazos river.
While the stagehands changed out the equipment for the next act, Gary and Micky Braun of Micky and the Motorcars did some acoustic numbers to keep the crowd entertained on a small stage off to the side. Soon, things were ready and Micky's brothers Willie and Cody brought their band, Reckless Kelly, onstage to an excited and loyal crowd. Cody Canada provided the acoustic entertainment while the crew prepared for Micky and the Motorcars, one of the most underrated, consistent bands around. By this time, the venue was full with a sea of lawn chairs and blankets, surpassing the previous years crowds.
After the Motorcars left the stage, there was a distinct buzz in the crowd. Old time rock music fans were excited to see some familiar faces. The younger generation was left wondering what was about to happen. Don Barnes brought his band, 38 Special, on stage and taught the kids in the crowd what Southern Rock was all about. 38 Special played their familiar hits such as Hold On Loosely, Teacher Teacher, Caught Up in You, and Back Where You Belong. The other musicians came from backstage to watch. Hunter Rea of the Hunter Rea Band was overheard saying, "I didn't know who these guys were, but this is AWESOME!" The guys from 38 Special haven't lost a step and sound just as good as ever, giving the joyous crowd everything they expected and more.
Once the band left the stage, host Wade Bowen took to the acoustic stage with his buddy Randy Rogers to everyone's delight. With their live album, Watch This, being released just two days prior to the event, the crowd was happy to see the duo play some familiar hits.
After a few songs, Wade took to the big stage with several of the musicians children, all wearing shirts that said "Wade Bowen Loves Babies" and told the crowd about the wonderful efforts of the Bowen Family Foundation and their work with the March of Dimes. All money raised stays in the local area to help local children.
Next up, Cody Canada took to the stage and rocked a now energized crowd as the sun started to hide behind the buildings of the Waco Hilton. Mr. Bowen took the stage with Cody to do a duet or two with his brother in law.
Meanwhile, backstage, things were abuzz. It was a who's who of the Texas Music Scene, with musicians that had already played chatting with some who hadn't taken the stage yet, including many unannounced stars who would be participating in the final jam session.
After Cody Canada's exit, the crowd standing in front of the stage began to build. The sun started to set. And then, Mr. Wade Bowen took the stage for the final act - an approximately three hour set with surprises at every turn. In between some of Wade's greatest hits, other artist took the stage with Wade's band accompanying.
Participating in the monstrous jam session were Parker McCollum, Jamie Lin Wilson, Micky Braun, Cody Canada, Stoney Larue, Bleu Edmonson, Randy Rogers, Willy Braun, Casey Donahue, Courtney Patton, Jason Eady, Adam Hood, Pat Green, and the legend Ray Benson.
The jam went on for about three hours, with Wade joining in on some of the songs. Pat Green offered to auction off his guitar that he has played for years. Once Ray Benson took the stage, every artist there was in awe. In the end, Wade invited whoever was around to join in for the last few songs. Stoney and Cody horsed around off to the side while Pat and Wade goofed around with the band. There was a touching tribute to Guy Clark by Wade and Ray Benson singing the familiar Dublin Blues. The night ended with an energetic tribute to the Eagles, including Wade's mom and dad on stage to help out.
When it was over, an exhausted crowd exited slowly while the crowd backstage dispersed a little more slowly. Some retreating to their rooms to prepare for the next day's golf tournament. But most hanging out, soaking in the company of their peers until they can get together next year and do it all again.
Over 5,000 people in attendance and over $400,000 raised!