19 August 2010 0 Comments

Erie Times-News: An Ode To Everyone

Erie’s Tyson Bowman will open for the Invite and Craig Morgan on Sunday at Celebrate Erie

Dave Richards
As a waiter at Sperry’s in Nashville, Erie native Tyson Bowman has served entrees to George Jones, Chuck Wicks, and Mrs. Brad Paisley.This weekend, he serves up a home-cooked special he’s pretty proud of — his own album.

Bowman, 24, enlisted top Nashville session players and songwriters to assist him on “Thank God for People.” He plays a CD-release party for the album on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Plymouth Tavern, and also performs Sunday at 6 p.m. on CelebrateErie’s main stage.

“Diggin’ on a Country Girl,” the album’s summery, mid-tempo first single, is available as a free download on his website. Bowman wrote it with Rand Bishop and Roy August, veteran songwriters who have had No. 1 hits with Toby Keith (Bishop’s “My List”) and the Oak Ridge Boys (August’s “Fancy Free”). Bowman started the song with August, but longed to work with Bishop, as well. “He was the missing piece I wanted,” Bowman said. “I sent him the song me and Roy wrote and said, ‘Do you want in on it?’ He said, ‘Tyson, you play a good game of hardball.'” The daylong writing session was memorable, he said, because the famous songwriters — who had never met — were nothing alike.

“Rand is a real serious go-getter. Roy, a lot of people would consider as an out-there creative person,” Bowman said. “I’ll never forget when we sat down, and Roy said his first words. Rand looked up from behind the table and gave me a weird look. I couldn’t help but laugh. But in like 15 minutes, they got to be best friends.” Bowman and Judy Rodman — a co-writer of LeAnn Rimes’ hit “One Way Ticket (Because I Can”) — pounded out the title song. “Basically, she took a chance on writing with me,” Bowman said. “She doesn’t even know it, but the song is kind of an ode to her. The album is an ode to everyone who made this album. I honestly don’t know why they did it.” Nashville session players chipped in on fiddle, steel, mandolin, bass, drums, Hammond B-3, and more. “These guys playing on it have played on every other major country record,” Bowman said. “In fact, a lot of them had to leave the studio to go play with Lee Ann Womack. They play on all the records we know and love — Travis Tritt, Womack, Rascal Flatts.”

Bowman grew up in Erie, influenced by James Taylor, Garth Brooks, and Alan Jackson — the first artist he saw at Tullio Arena. He’s the first to admit he got into a lot of trouble until Bethel Christian School took him in.

“I was kind of mischievous. I was hanging with the wrong crowd, you know, pretty much doing what every teen goes through, these temptations and stuff. Just not doing homework, not caring at school, not being on time. “When I was a troubled teen they let me go to school there [at Bethel]. They took a chance on me when I wasn’t the typical model student,” he added. “They believed in me, and sure enough, I graduated. It wasn’t easy, but they all pushed me, just like these record producers pushed me.”

Bowman moved to Nashville in June 2007 to pursue music. “I just had this passion in my heart. I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t pursue it,” he said. He made good connections in Nashville almost immediately, including gigs at Tootsie’s. But his smartest move may have been making his mom, Vicki, a former real estate agent at Nan Held Realtors, his manager. “I couldn’t ask for a better manager with just her sales skills,” he said. “Honestly, sometimes I get scared because she doesn’t treat me like a son.” With mom’s help, he’s getting noticed and making waves.

Bowman said he used to daydream about being a country star with Julianna Barninger, his high-school sweetheart, who longed to be an actress. Now he’s releasing his first album, and she acts in California. She’s appeared in commercials, a couple Comedy Central specials, and will star in Bowman’s video for “Diggin’ on a Country Girl.” “We always had these dreams. We just didn’t know how to get there,” Bowman said. “We must be insane or something because now we are there.”

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