A lot of us knew the surface story last spring about Wade Bowen's vocal problems and how they put his career on hold, but a 17-minute YouTube video "Inconsistent Chaos" released this week by the Bowen camp shows more of the emotional dimension of that career crisis, one compounded by the suicide of a nephew and support crew member during that period.
The video, which features comments by Bowen, his band and support team, family and fellow Texas musicians, shows that the serious problem - bleeding vocal cords that could have ended his singing career - was compounded by its timing and uncertainty in cure and treatment.
A nagging vocal problem grew serious last spring and a visit to a specialist revealed vocal cord hemorrhaging that forced an indefinite cancellation of his spring concerts and touring. That cancellation came short months after the release of his anticipated 11th album, "Solid Ground," and the loss of touring revenue coupled with stalled momentum of the new album's release cut Bowen's income to the point he says he was contemplating bankruptcy.
He continued to pay his band, however, and the musician friends who support his charitable Bowen Family Foundation by performing and contributing to the annual Bowen MusicFest pitched in for Bowen himself this time, pledging a percentage of their income to cover his expenses through the rough patch.
Laser surgery by San Antonio specialist Charles Simpson in late May last year solved the problem and Bowen was back to performing by July. In mid-June, however, another emotional trauma hit with the suicide of Bowen's nephew Chase Cavender, who not only was family but a beloved member of Bowen's touring crew, handling the sound board and guitar tech problems. "Inconsistent Chaos," in fact, is dedicated to Cavender's memory.
Bowen's friends and fans know the musician's often willing to share an emotional openness and vulnerability when he feels it can help others and that streak sometimes surfaces in his songwriting and live shows, where a slower, more revealing song can quiet a boisterous crowd.
He does the same in "Inconsistent Chaos" and one can't help but come away thinking that this trying period of his life has planted seeds for such songs in the future.
This year's MusicFest, by the way, brought the Bowen Family Foundation up to the $4 million mark in money raised for local charities helping families and children.