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Second Installment – The Bluebird sits down with Kevin Bowe

by GFats on September 9, 2012

 

 

Editor’s Note – this is the second installment of The Bluebird sitting down with Kevin Bowe on his work with Etta James, Blues and songwriting..

Bluebird:
When you settle down to write a song, how do you start?

Kevin Bowe:

All different ways because I like to mix it up, habit is the enemy of art. Very often I do start with a title and work my way down, that usually works better than thinking of a “story” and then trying to find a hook for it at the end, that’s like painting your way into a corner. But I start with a title, or a riff or a chain of chords or a melody and go from there. I try to write on different guitars in different rooms and with different people, so they come out different, I get bored easily and I don’t want to be one of those writers that writes one great song, then writes it again and again and again.

Bluebird:

How do you imagine all of the instruments that go into its production?

Kevin Bowe:

That’s gotten easier over time and my teachers are all the records I listen to. The arrangements on Bacharach stuff, Little Feat, Stones, Beatles, all of my faves have something to teach arrangement wise…. if you’re listening. I like to pick stuff apart like that and figure out how they did it.

Bluebird:

I was at a progressive jazz fusion show locally and the keyboardist had a strap on, saying, ‘this ain’t the blues,’ as if writing a blues song was easier. What do you think?

Kevin Bowe:

I think if you’re in a blues band and your accountant says “you’re making too much money, man” then start playing jazz. The only people that think it’s easy are people who’ve never done it.

Bluebird:

Do you think women have it easier or harder, to make it in the music world? What do you think of Etta’s role as a leader in music for women, especially back then, when she started recording.

Kevin Bowe:

I think in some ways women have it harder in every walk of life on this earth and we all suffer for it. The world would obviously be a better place if all governments were run equally by women, or MORE by women. I think it’s partly because both men and women try to screw women over. Men tend to stick up for one another in an odd way, women so often view each other as competition, it’s really disheartening. Not all the time, but a lot of the time. Did you know that many female headliners have it in their contract that they don’t allow female opening acts? I’ve run into this more than once, seen it with my own eyes. Can you imagine a band of dudes saying “no dudes in the opening act” or if the Roots said “no brothers in the opening act”. What the hell? But it’s actually fairly common for women. You throw that crap on top of the crap that men do to women and that is one big pile to wade through. But I say shame on women that have that attitude. Working with Alison Scott in Minneapolis and watching the BS that she’s had to put up with, I’ve seen a ton of that, the music business has always been full of catty people, it attracts ’em like flies but man- the stuff I see makes me lose faith in the human race some days. We always call it “7th grade homeroom syndrome”. I don’t really know much about Etta’s role in changing that, but I do know she didn’t take any BS off ANYONE. Right when she walked in the room everyone knew what was up. I was happy to call her my friend, but I definitely knew better than to piss her off!!!

Kevin Bowe

For more information on Kevin and his work, bookmark www.kevinbowe.com

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