When the Texas town of West was rocked by the April 17 explosion at a nearby fertilizer plant, a few on the Texas country/Red Dirt scene were affected as well.
While no one in his family was hurt, singer/songwriter Wade Bowen has ties to the community.
"West is pretty much a second home town to me," says Bowen, who performs tonight at Mo's Place in Katy. "I played my first gig there, I used to work at a pizza place there, my sister married into a family there. I've got a lot of connections with that little bitty town, and I just wanted to get a first hand glimpse of what they were going through and dealing with, and man, it's pretty rough."
Shortly after the explosion, Bowen took a tour of West to really get a good idea of what the community needs.
According to the singer, the town needs to rebuild a school, nursing home and several homes that were close to the blast. Much of the underground infrastructure has to be replaced as well.
"Everything within that vicinity is just gone," Bowen says.
One of the first steps Texas artists took to help their own was to perform at the recent Texas Thunder Music Festival in Gardendale. During the three-day event, Bowen got to meet not only the mayor of West, but also some of the family members who were affected most by the disaster.
And while Texas Thunder began as just a music festival, event co-coordinators quickly decided to devote the net profits to help West.
"When we originally signed up to do the Texas Thunder thing, it wasn't for the city of West," Bowen said. "We were just kind of doing a big festival. It was really kind of the Texas Thunder people to donate the money, and try to help the city of West when all of that happened. It was really cool for them to have done that."
Being grateful for life and the good things it brings is also what Bowen's latest album, The Given is about.
"It actually came from a dream I had of just this overwhelming feeling of being so thankful for everything I have in my life," Bowen says. "It was a great experience to do that record from start to finish."
The Given, Bowen said, still has the same vibe and sound as his previous albums, but this one shows a more mature side to his work.
As for future plans, Bowen said he will begin recording another album soon, but for right now he's glad to still be around.
"Man, like every year and just like for the last 15 years, you just want to hang on," Bowen says with a laugh. "You hang on and hope that you're still around for another year."
Wade Bowen performs tonight at Mo's Place, 21940 Kingsland Blvd. in Katy. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
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