Wade Bowen’s always been a pretty accessible guy. Having a relationship with fellow Texas country singer Randy Rogers that seems straight out of a buddy cop flick helps, but he’s taken it to the next level recently with his new web series Garage Mahal, which invites fans into his home for informal recordings of classic songs. In the latest episode, Bowen tackles Bob Dylan’s hangman’s ballad, “Seven Curses.”
An outtake from Dylan’s 1963 LP The Times They Are A-Changin’, “Seven Curses” is a reimagining of the traditional folk song “Gallows Pole,” itself popularized by Leadbelly and later Led Zeppelin. As Bowen explains in the video, Dylan’s version “has a million lyrics,” being told instead from the standpoint of the daughter of a man who’s been sentenced to hang. Bowen gives the song – “a love song, a sad song. . .all that beauty wrapped up into one” – a simple, heartfelt treatment, accompanied only by his acoustic guitar.
Garage Mahal episodes are filmed inside Bowen’s home studio at his house in New Braunfels, Texas, a hamlet about a half-hour outside Austin that’s home to Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in the state. In the first episode last month, he explained, “What I’m hoping to do with this series is invite you into my house, into my thoughts, bring some special guests, play some songs I’ve written, maybe some songs I wish I’d written.” Previous episodes have seen him cover Bruce Springsteen’s “Loose Change” and John Mayer’s “Queen of California.”
Bowen is playing shows throughout Texas in May and June, including the KNBT Americana Jam at Gruene Hall on May 21st, before adding further dates in the Midwest later in the summer.