'Not Leavin': After 20-plus years, country singer Wade Bowen continues to get introspective with music

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Jan. 11—It's not often that Wade Bowen finds himself with downtime.

When he does, he doesn't sit around on the couch, he will work on his "to do" list around the house.

"I try to stay as busy as I can," Bowen says. "We've worked hard over the course of the last two decades. We have quite a bit in store because we're finishing up a new record of my own. Then we'll head out for our regular touring schedule."

It's not rare to find Bowen on the road for 200-plus dates out of the year. His latest tour brings him to The Dirty Bourbon Dance Hall & Saloon on Saturday, Jan. 13.

The 47-year-old country singer released his debut album, "Try Not to Listen," in 2002. His most recent is 2022's "Somewhere Between the Secret and the Truth."

Bowen's also been on tour constantly for a little over 20 years.

"I don't know if touring has gotten easier," he says. "Life on the road is a little harder on me now. I am more mature and wiser on how to handle it. Having my kids a little older also helps out every day. As long as I'm having fun, it's worth it."

Bowden's single, "Honky Tonk Roll" closed out 2023 as the most played song of the year on Texas country radio.

His single, "Lovin' Not Leavin'," was co-written with Grammy winter Casey Beathard and the single tells the story about a gypsy spirit finding the one to settle them down.

Wade is also proud of his track, "Cowboy Kid," which is inspired by his childhood and how he carries the larger-than-life dreams into adulthood.

"Songs don't usually take that long to write," he says. " 'Cowboy Kid' started off as a reminiscence song about my childhood. It was a dream that I've carried over into adulthood. I dreamed of being a cowboy. Chasing music, it's the Wild West in this business. It's important that we shouldn't give up on our dreams."

With more than a dozen albums under his belt, Bowen has a growing catalog of songs to choose from for each set.

"It's really tough to put together a set list," he says. "We've had so much new music and it's a challenge to get it right. We're going to play the staples. The rest of the set comes down to what I believe in. With the new stuff, I pay attention to what people are responding to. Every night it changes. I make a list and do the best I can. Very rarely do I ever follow it, but it's fun to dig through the catalog and revisit the songs that got me to this point."

Bowen is proud of his work in navigating a career into a second decade.

As he's gotten older, he's less wild and crazy and has come to be grateful for audiences and live performances today.

"I'm humbled that people have connected to the songs I've put out over the years," he says. "The songs have been used to celebrate life milestones. It feels good. When I started out, it was about making music and performing any chance I got. About 10 years in, I started to make decisions that were going to be connected to my longevity. This also affected my songwriting process. I don't chase the fads in country music. I think storytelling remains true, and that's what has enabled me to stay relevant for this long."