Thanksgiving means a reunion of family and friends for many and Texas country singer-songwriter Wade Bowen will add fans to that group when he returns to his hometown to perform Friday night at The Backyard.
Last year, Bowen played the Friday after Thanksgiving and enjoyed the experience enough to do it again.
“The show last year worked out really well,” he said, speaking from his home in New Braunfels. “It’s always a lot of fun for me. Because of the charity event (MusicFest) every year, we don’t do a lot of shows in Waco.”
Thanksgiving also is a time of reflection on blessings over the past year and Bowen has plenty to reflect on over a 2018 made rocky by vocal surgery immediately before his annual Bowen MusicFest.
The surgery was successful and Bowen didn’t have to cancel the music festival that’s his namesake, thanks to family and friends pulling together. Recovery, however, forced cancellation of weeks of shows, including those planned to support his new album, “Solid Ground,” and a long-awaited European tour.
“We took a big hit when my voice went south for a little while,” he said. “But my voice now is better than ever. I just have to take good care of it, which I know how to do.”
Friday’s show, which features opening act Randall King, will feature some of “Solid Ground” worked in — a vinyl version launches in January to refocus attention to it — as well as Bowen’s comfortable blend of songs and stories.
He might even be persuaded to share from his latest recording effort, a teaming with songwriter, collaborator, producer and good friend Sean McConnell that had the two recording some Christmas songs this fall.
Bowen’s pre-Christmas audiences have enjoyed when he and his band throw in something like “O Holy Night” or Robert Earl Keen’s “Merry Christmas from the Family” in a show, he said. “We just try to keep it fresh and new and fun,” he said.
The Christmas songs that he and McConnell collaborated on won’t be released online before Friday’s show, but likely will pop up soon with a complete album part of the plan. “We’re setting ourselves up for a Christmas album next year,” he said.
McConnell, a singer-songwriter like Bowen, began producing with Bowen’s 2016 gospel album “Then Sings My Soul: Songs for My Mother” and has grown with experience. “He gets better and better as a producer every time,” said the 41-year-old Waco native. “He’s one of my best friends in the whole universe and I’m glad he’s really able to do this these days.”
Next year also promises something new from Bowen and longtime friend and collaborator Randy Rogers, once Rogers releases his latest album with producer Dave Cobb. Bowen and Rogers already have released two albums of songs together spinning off from their annual “Hold My Beer and Watch This” mini-tours where the two swap songs and stories in an informal setting.
“I expect (the new album) will have a lot of the things that we’ve done before,” he said. “We just want people to hear how much fun we have with this project.”
Fun also is the operative word for Friday’s post-Thanksgiving show in Bowen’s hometown, as are the words relaxed and low-key — it’s just family, friends and fans, after all.
“Just come out and enjoy the holiday,” Bowen said.