Naples singer Jon Bowlin debuts disc
Bowlin has been singing at local events for years; now he'll try his luck in Nashville.
Jon Bowlin is singing about "Old Things Best," but he's planning something new Saturday, when he releases his CD by that name. It's his debut disc.
A party at the Blue Monkey Bar & Grill in Naples at 7 p.m. Saturday will celebrate with Bowlin, who's bringing in country music friends Ryan Clark, the North Naples Fire Department's Station 40 mandolin wiz,and guitarist Garrett Dally for an evening of tunes.
The next new thing in his life: Nashville.
"There's just so much talent there, and you can learn so much," he said. Far from worrying about the carnivorous tendencies of the music industry, Bowlin is excited about diving into it. "Old Things Best," in fact, uses Nashville players from the Beaird Music Group, producer for Carrie Underwood, Josh Turner, Tim McGraw and Lady Antebellum, to fill in behind his own guitar and soothing bass-baritone.
Bowlin, 23, is a familiar face as an entertainer at charity events such as the Brotherhood Ride for First Responders, and he plays Friday nights at Cracklin' Jack''s restaurant off Collier Boulevard. People familiar with his Randy Travis and Garth Brooks covers will be treated to his own music Saturday: The First Baptist Academy graduate wrote every song except one, a cover of the Randy Travis tune "Deeper Than The Holler."
"I just kinda plowed through it. I've been working on it since September last year. I started writing a lot of music and putting it together. I wanted to make it traditional, to stay away from mainstream music," declared Bowlin, who listens to the Georges — Strait and Jones — or Keith Whitley and Merle Haggard when he wants good country music.
Bowlin says he hopes electric guitars and sound equipment haven't permanently altered the landscape for salable country, and points to veterans like Travis, who have stayed public favorites for years.
"There are quite a few guys coming out now, enough so that I see it around. There’s still hope," he said. People like Margo Price, The Band Perry and Sturgill Simpson lead the pack Bowlin is hoping to be in.
He's says he's still finding his way around composing, which vacillates between solid work and a breeze born of inspiration: "I wrote 'She Won't Be a Fool Again' in one night," he said. "Sometimes I can knock half a song out after I get home, and then get up and write the rest of it the next day."
But he'll be the first to say that doesn't always happen.
Bowlin's decidedly not traditional about his distribution, however.
"Starting Saturday you can buy it on my website, CD Baby, iTunes, Spotify and Apple Music. I'm hitting all the bases," he said.
Naples singer-songwriter Tim McGeary, who now works in Nashville and who helped Bowlin with his recording, said he felt Bowlin was making his move at the right time.
"I think that's coming back. You know how the pendulum swings from pure country to the bigger band sound to where they say, 'Hey, that's not country,' and we're going back now.
"I think he's got a great voice, really super country — like old country," he said. "And he's so honest, a really nice kid. He works hard, too."
Naples singer-songwriter Carlene Thissen echoed that appraisal: "He is just a super-polite, nice young man. I think that comes through in the way he sings."
She hired Bowlin to sing a song she had written for a demo that she felt needed a male voice, "and he just made it sound so much better."
If you go
Jon Bowlin CD Release Party
Where: Blue Monkey Bar & Grill, 7550 Mission Hills Drive, No. 326, North Naples
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, May 6
Something else: Bowlin's CD, "Old Things Best," will be for sale, and he will autograph them for those who arrive before 7