As busy as they both are with solo careers, Texas singer-songwriters Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen always manage to find time to work together. Longtime friends, the tireless twosome hooked up in 2015 to record and release Hold My Beer Vol. I, a red dirt Country collection that owed as much to Lone Star State legends like Guy Clark and Radney Foster as it did to old-school traditionalist like George Jones and Merle Haggard.
Born out of a series of acoustic tours Rogers and Bowen undertake every year, Hold My Beer Vol. I harnessed some of the magic the duo creates on stage (albeit with a full band on the record). Thankfully, Rogers and Bowen have followed up their first duet record with a live release. Titled Watch This, the 18 song set captures the singer-songwriters completely stripped down in front of rabid Texas crowd.
From the opening rasp of Rogers’ “Tonight’s Not The Night,” to Bowen’s set-closing “Saturday Night,” Watch This proves Rogers and Bowen are all about the music. There’s no backing band, no fix it in the mix trickery, it’s nothing but acoustically rendered rawness from the two performers. Bowen’s voice holds up a little better than Rogers’ does in a live setting, but despite his short-comings, Rogers gives everything he has to the audience.
Hearing Rogers and Bowen casually trade songs on stage is an ear-pleasing experience. For those who haven’t had a chance to see the guys live, Watch This is the next best thing. Rogers’ reading of his Randy Rogers Band’s “Kiss Me In The Dark” is a bit rough, but the track loses none of it’s coolness. Bowen’s 2013 single “Songs About Trucks,” from his 2013 self-titled solo album, comes across well acoustically.
Although Rogers is not in the best vocal shape on Watch This, songs like the grooved “Buy Myself A Chance” and the salty “Too Late For Goodbye” are disc highlights. Bowen doesn’t really have a weak moment on the album, soaring on such tracks as the chunky “Trouble” and the jangly “You Had Me At My Best.” He also shines on the sulphurous “Mood Ring” and “West Texas Rain,” a new number from the singer-songwriter.
Live albums are often hit or miss affairs. The ones that have been fixed in the studio sound too polished, while the ones that are mixed straight from the soundboard and released as is are usually too raw. Watch This is as close to being in the audience at a Rogers/Bowen acoustic show as you can get, and it’s more than worth the price of admission.