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Ronnie Bowman


Ronnie Bowman's records have all the sheen and polish of any Alison Krauss CD, and the same level of smoking musicianship. It's not only world class bluegrass, but something that belongs in every music-loving household as well.

Not all great bluegrass records do--some are too hillbilly to have that mass-market appeal. People have all kinds of objections: to "twang" or banjos, or to songs about the home in the hills, or whatever. But in the same exact way that everybody needs to have the latest Allison Krauss, everybody needs to have some Ronnie Bowman records. His vocals are so smooth, so beautiful, he's perfect. And the players, forget about it. Andy Hall on the dobro is the new guy, screaming right up behind Jerry Douglas and Rob Ickes as the one to watch. All the members of the Committee are of that caliber: Dave Pomeroy on bass is one of Nashville's finest, and guitarist Wyatt Rice, fiddler Steve Thomas, Dave Talbot on banjo, and Adam Steffey on mandolin are all first string pickers, to say the least. Bowman's wife, Garnet Imes-Bowman, contributes excellent high baritone vocals on a half dozen cuts.

Another fact that distinguishes Ronnie Bowman from almost all his peers is the songwriting success he has had. "The Healing Kind" was cut by Lee Ann Womack on the huge I Hope You Dance release, and the song he penned with hitmaker Don Cook, "It's Gettin' Better All The Time," went all the way to #1 for Brooks and Dunn. That makes going out to check the mail a whole different thing.

It's an unusual story, how it's happening "to" him as much as "for" him. He was working for the Sara Lee organization in his twenties, and music was for fun, rather than a viable living. When the band Lost and Found took him on, it led to an 11 year life with the Lonesome River Band--his first disc with them won Album of the Year in the genre. Ronnie was to win that honor again with his first solo record in 1994, Cold Virginia Night. His second solo effort, The Man I'm Trying to Be, came out in 1998, and on both solo records he won Male Vocalist of the Year. And he'd just cut that first solo record to have something to sell on the road, make a little extra dough.

The song "Three Rusty Nails" on the second solo record also won Song of the Year at the IBMA's, and it led to moving to Nashville and a publishing deal with Sony/Tree, which opened the doors to the huge cuts that really broke it wide open.

I'm sure you get the picture. You need this guy's records in your collection. Just check out his rare voice on the listen page. • FG

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