Kevin Bowe + The Okemah Prophets
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Kevin Bowe + The Okemah Prophets

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Rock Americana

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"Bluebird Reviews"

KEVIN BOWE AND THE OKEMAH PROPHETS
Natchez Trace
This album was arranged, recorded, engineered, produced, and mixed by Kevin Bowe. Release Date: 2012. My discovery of Kevin Bowe's work came directly from Randy Abramson 's website, Rock Torch.The site interviews rock musicians and asks them who they would recommend the readers listen to, in terms of new music or unearthed gems. They follow a wide range of musicians from many genres, and I stumbled across an article on Alex Chilton after he died. I am a huge fan of the Replacements, Paul Westerberg, Grandpa Boy, and anything else that Westerberg wants to call his music.
Corresponding with Kevin Bowe to set up this review has been a privilege. Picking up a guitar at 13 years old, he is in this business for the love of the music and the good life. And what is the good life? Not necessarily being famous, but having the joy of writing for, and playing music with, his 'heroes'. He toured and recorded with Paul Westerberg, and they co-wrote the song, "Everybody Lies." He also recorded with Etta James, Johnny Lang, The Meat Puppets, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Leo Kottke, Three Dog Night and dozens of other artists. With this expanse of recording and touring history from Bowe, I had instant respect for his experience. After just a slight amount of research, I learned that this Minneapolis writer, producer and guitarist, has scored 3 Platinum records, and written songs on two Grammy award winning albums, while working with Paul Westerberg. This current record, "Natchez Trace" is all his own, with contributions from Paul Westerberg, Freedy Johnston, Chuck Prophet, Tim O'Reagan (Jayhawks), Nels Kline (Wilco) and Scarlet Rivera (Dylan/Desire). When I got the record, I expected it to be witty, edgy, lyrically deep and musically sound. What I didn't expect was that Bowe and the Prophets would go beyond the horizon of the punk song-writer field, to integrate even more diverse sounds into the album. Natchez Trace is a great platform for we Westerberg-ians to bounce around on, but every now and again, with this album, know that you will either hit your head on a sound you haven't heard yet, or be catapulted through the window of your apartment, into something totally new. What I love about the Okemah Prophets, is the blatant dealing with reality, blended with beautiful production, instrumentation and most importantly, the message of hope - to keep the individualism that we all should cherish.
Meet The Okemah Prophets Kevin Bowe - Vocals, Guitar Peter Anderson (Polara/Honeydogs) - Drums Steve Price - Bass The Okemah Prophets also perform and provide back up for Alison Scott and Freedy Johnston. Album credits of the band and their guest musicians will be listed in addition on each song.
Track By Track: Fallen Satellites Kevin Bowe- guitar, baritone guitar, vocals, harmonica, tambourine. Peter Anderson-drums. Steve Price-bass. John Ely-pedal steel. Alison Scott- harmony vocals. This starting track opens up with a quiet guitar riff, but quickly goes into a smooth production with some country warmth behind it. The first glimmer of vocals come through, and we get to hear the low range of Bowe's voice, which is the crux of the song, but the harmonies from Scott build up the complexity. John Ely is on pedal steel, adds texture. A subtle harp is introduced by Bowe, as the song closes with elegance. Long Goodbye Kevin Bowe-guitar, vocals, tambourine. Peter Anderson-drums. Steve Price-bass and bass. Ruth Whitney Bowe-piano. Tommy Barbarells-B3. Michelle Kinney-cello. Jillian Raya-violin, viola. Tyler Johnston-French horn. Sophia Parente-oboe. Devon Gray-bassoon. Johnny Solomon and Molly Moore-harmony vocals. Clever lyrics run throughout this album. What I love about good punk lyrics are the realism in the story telling and the grasp of the complexity in describing difficult situations. This intelligence comes through in Bowe's songwriting and carries on in the lyrics to other songs on Natchez Trace. Every time you hear a song on this album, you are drawn to try to listen to the different instruments that made it happen. Ruth Whitney Bowe adds clarity with piano. Jillian Raye gives the song a sad tone with violin and viola. I could go on, and I will. These songs are complicated arrangements, although they sound streamlined, because they've been well produced. In Too Deep Kevin Bowe- Guitar, vocals, harmonica, banjo, cowbell, shaker. Peter Anderson-Drums, conga. Steve Price-bass. Scarlet Rivera-fiddle. Bruce Lubek-harmony vocal. Peter Anderson takes it away with conga percussion, and acoustic rhythms wave you on to this catchy Dylan sounding tune, complete with harp and some surprising banjo from Bowe. The fiddle from Scarlet
Rivera, takes on a lead of its own. Again, the lyrics are reflective of a complicated situation, but the song makes it all seem manageable, which is what good music is supposed to do. Power Trip So this song had me driving off the road while I was li - Bluebird Reviews


"St. Cloud Times"

Here's a midyear rating of 2012 music releases
The releases the first half of this year have been so good I feel like I'm creating a year-end list, not a midyear review. Shuffle this deck any way you like, and I'd probably still be OK.
1. Kevin Bowe & the Okemah Prophets – “Natchez Trace:” This release from Minneapolis singer/songwriter owe is long overdue. Bowe has included guest appearances from his extensive musical connections with the result being nothing short of an Americana masterpiece. - St. Cloud Times


"No Depression"

NO DEPRESSION AMERICANA MUSIC BLOG
Kevin Bowe and the Okemah Prophet’s Natchez Trace: a
Masterpiece that’s been Years in the Making
Posted by Karl Leslie on August 14, 2012 at 9:00am
View Blog
In 1999, Minneapolis, Minn., singer/songwriter Kevin Bowe and his band the Okemah Prophets released the compelling Americana album Restoration. At the time, a lot of roots rock fans thought Restoration was the beginning of something that would end up seeing Bowe at the forefront of the Americana music scene.
As Bowe would tell you himself, however, when it came to advancing his own career, he was his own worst enemy. That’s because he was having too much success writing songs for artists like Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Shannon Curfman and others – including several songs he wrote for Etta James that were included on James’ Grammy award-winning album, Let’s Roll. And even though Bowe released a couple of good follow-up albums (one studio and one live recording) some of the better material included songs he’d written for other people. And it was obvious to fans that neither album had all of Bowe’s undivided attention. He was just too busy – and too happy – with his songwriting career. Sometime around 2007, Bowe decided he once again needed to create an album for himself. That idea came to full fruition with the release of his masterful new album Natchez Trace on Bowe’s own Okemah record label on June 8, 2012. Natchez Trace is personal, reflective, and doesn’t include any tracks Bowe has written for other artists. To help make Natchez Trace happen, Bowe reached out to many of his industry connections. “Fallen Satellites” sets the tone and features longtime collaborator Alison Scott on harmony vocals. The sad and beautiful “Long Goodbye” includes Johnny Solomon and Molly Moore (Communist Daughter) on backing vocals, and his wife, Ruth, on piano. On “Never Don’t Stay,” a song Bowe wrote for his wife, he gets a little help from Phil Solem (Rembrandts) on backing vocals. But Bowe’s connections reach well beyond the Minnesota Borders. “In Too Deep” is underscored by the haunting and cool sounds of Bob Dylan’s violinist, Scarlet Rivera. “Everybody Lies” is a rocker co-written by Paul Westerberg (The Replacements) and features Nels Cline (Wilco) on guitar.
Bowe sings, “I really dig your record man, I play it all the time.” That, of course, plays right into the title, “Everybody Lies.” The slightly odd but incredibly catchy 80’s-styled rocker “Power Trip” is the only song here where Bowe provides all the vocals and instrumentation himself.
Of course, Natchez Trace is more about displaying Bowe’s songwriting skills
across a wide-range of musical styles than it is about showing off his music industry connections. “Haven’t You Heard” has a rootsy sound that fans of Restoration will no doubt find familiar. “Waitin’ for the Wheel” is an up- tempo country number that is so good and sounds so familiar you’re sure it’s a cover. It also features Andy Dee on lap steel and Chuck Prophet on lead guitar.
“My Favorite Pain” is simply one of the best songs of 2012 and is sure to give you goosebumps. Once again, Dee is on lap steel but this time is joined by John Ely on pedal steel. Bowe sings, “It started off slowly. In the back of my mind.” From there, the song builds into a gripping alt-country number. In a first for Bowe, the tune even features him whistling the melody near the end of the song. “Just Restless” is a roots rocker co-written by Duane Jarvis and John Brannen and showcases Bruce McCabe (Hoopsnakes, Jonny Lang) on piano. After a rare, excellent, and explicit version of John Lennon’s rocker “I Found Out,” Bowe plays what he calls the “LA Suite.” The trio of songs – “LA Dogs,” “Devil’s Garden” and “Gutters of Paradise” – each display some of the best songwriting here and harken back to the early days of Bowe’s solo career. You can find singer/songwriter Freedy Johnston on harmony vocals on each of the three tunes. Bowe also gets a little help from Chris and Curt Kirkwood (Meat Puppets) on “Devil’s Garden.” After a second cover, Spirit’s “Nature’s Way,” Bowe closes the long list original songs with one of his best, the intimate country tune “Every Little Bit Hurts” before ending with a “clean” reprise of “I Found Out.” Bowe doesn’t care what anyone else thinks about Natchez Trace; he wrote it for himself and nobody else. Ironically, however, whether he likes it or not, Natchez Trace will no doubt continue to feed Bowe more business as a songwriter. That’s because he has successfully created set of excellent songs that display his vast music industry connections and, more importantly, once again demonstrate his songwriting skills in genres ranging from rock to folk to blues to country. - No Depression


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Kevin's history as a writer, guitarist and producer is long and well documented (3 platinums, songs on 2 Grammy winning albums) drummer Peter Anderson is a Minneapolis treasure, recording and touring with Honeydogs, Polara and many others. Steve Price is a first call bassist who's toured and recorded with Rex Daisy, the Suburbs and many others. Ruder than Americana, less cowboy outfits than roots rock, too old to be punks any more, these guys were indie before it was called that. They have great songs and they play them very well.