Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers don't mind being the opening act for country singer Miranda Lambert on her Highway Vagabond Tour stop at Red Rocks, on August 8-9. The duo is on its own tour, dubbed Hold My Beer and Watch This, and has a long history opening for country legends, including Merle Haggard. Westword caught up with the two before the Colorado concert, and they had nothing but kind words to say about Lambert, each other, and playing one of the world's most revered venues.
Westword: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us! What are you up to?
Randy Rogers: We just finished sound check before our [Dallas] show.
What's it like living in the South/Central corridor of Texas with so many Americana and country musicians?
Wade Bowen: I tell everybody it's like I live in a movie. Not just because of the music, but I just love the hill country, I love the scenery, the people, the food...everything. There's never a dull moment to get out and watch this live music and enjoy it.
Rogers: Growing up in Texas, I was a big fan of Willie Nelson and George Strait — two of my biggest idols. I think it's embedded in our culture: Two of the biggest mainstream country stars are from Texas and claim Texas. It was easy, because country music was everywhere growing up.
Bowen: I grew up with three sisters and no brothers, and Cody [Cody Canada of Cody Canada & the Departed] married my sister.... We had been friends long before that. I think it's really cool, because the biggest thing is, when we get together over the years, we never really talk about music or have written a whole lot together, but now when we get together, it's with our kids. Now we're starting to see our kids flourish in the music world, and now they love being on stage. It's pretty fun.
What about playing in Colorado?
Bowen: I always love it. I really wish I had a place so I could go live there in Colorado. I love everywhere in Colorado; it's just great people and a lot of fun.
Rogers: I love playing in town. I love Denver. I love Red Rocks. [It's] obviously the most gorgeous place on planet Earth to play a show.
What is it like playing specifically at Red Rocks?
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Rogers: It's like you can't stop smiling. Happy as can be. It's gorgeous. So many talented, famous people have stepped on that stage. So many rock-and-roll pioneers, country-music icons, everything from Skrillex and the EDM world. That stage, it's just really special.
Bowen: Red Rocks is a world in itself. It's as good as it gets. It's a bucket-list venue that I'm glad we've marked off our list before. I'm so honored to play it again. It's just a remarkable, amazing experience from the moment you step foot on the grounds. I'm definitely not taking this for granted. I'm just so pumped and excited to see our fan base.
You are both veterans of Musicfest at Steamboat Springs. How do you compare playing Steamboat to Red Rocks?
Bowen: We love the experience we have playing at Steamboat Springs once a year. I've been doing that festival up there for fifteen years. I've seen it [Musicfest] grow like crazy.
Rogers: I mean, Red Rocks stands alone. There's not another venue I've ever stepped foot on that compares to Red Rocks. That's what I tell people all the time. When they ask "Where do you like to play?" or "What's your favorite spot?," it's always Red Rocks.
Bowen: I mean, it's night and day. I've played shows in Steamboat where we play outside, and I opened up a beer, played a song, turned around, and the beer was frozen!"
Rogers: I've played in, like, snowing-sideways zero-degree weather. It's cold. It ain't no fun.
What do you think about the fans in Colorado?
Rogers: I think what I bring to the table for Denver-area folks [is] something they don't have access to every weekend. My sound [with] fiddle and steel guitar, it's a sound that necessarily isn't around, and I think the [Denver] people are hungry for it, and that's why we are able to come to town and play large shows.
Bowen:Colorado fans are smart about music. They love music. They care about music. They care about what you have to say. It's always a good thing, and doesn't happen everywhere we go.
What's it like playing together? Because each of you has a successful solo career.
Bowen: Randy's one of my dearest friends, my closest buddy. Anytime we get to do shows together, we always have fun. Actually, we have way too much fun. I really love what we have created with Hold My Beer and Watch This, and it's given us a chance to hang more and write more. As far as having brothers in the music business, he's as close as they get. It's a lot of fun to say that.
Rogers: We're as close to brothers as we could possibly be. Wade didn't grow up with any brothers; I did. But Wade and I are brothers. We fight like brothers; we scrap like brothers; we challenge each other. He is my dearest friend; it's real.
Bowen: We heckle each other and make fun of each other, but we also celebrate each other's ups and downs. It's a great, great friendship.
What's it like playing for Miranda Lambert?
Rogers: It's good! I'm happy to be on the road. I played a show with her last weekend in Detroit, but I look forward to being with her in Denver. She's the biggest star in the world. She's amazingly talented and a very kind person. It's always fun being on her shows.
Bowen: I love Miranda, and I'm so glad she's given us this opportunity. I know we've played this place [Red Rocks] before, but it's really all her. She deserves the credit. And the respect to invite us for these shows – I really can't thank her enough. She's a great, great person and a great friend to us. Out of all the people that she could have opening for her, we're very, very honored that she chose us.
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Do you bring anything from Texas when you play in Colorado?
Rogers: I think Colorado has it all. I think you go to Colorado to get stuff.
Bowen: Oh, just my accent and my boots. I don't ever leave home without my boots.