Fowler to perform at Marcus Whitman Friday


Damon Fowler may be billed as a blues artist on the Blind Pig record label -- home to musical legends such as Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and Magic Slim -- but it would be a mistake to nail down Fowler's style so narrowly.

Fowler, who is scheduled to appear with his band in Walla Walla at 8 p.m. Friday in the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center, likes all kinds of music, he said last week while en route to Phoenix.

That most definitely shows in his newest album, "Devil Got His Way."

On the song "Once in Awhile," Fowler goes country in a traditional Nashville way, telling listeners "Even good girls got to let loose once in awhile."

"After the Rain" is sweetly tender, a richly-chorded ballad of sad good byes and memories. "When I think of you, you're half in the shadow, with a heart on your sleeve, with a chain round your ankle ..." he croons.

The album's title song, however, is all blues, sung by Fowler with a tenor voice laid over sharp steel and the clear twang of precise guitar work.

Fowler first picked up a guitar at the age of 12, and while his friends were listening to the musical flavor of the month, he was diving into the blues. In short order, he mastered the six-string and moved on to conquer the lap-steel, Dobro and slide guitars.

He's worked with Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy, Gregg Allman, Jimmy Vaughn, Junior Brown and Rick Derringer, eventually developing his unique spectrum of musical taste.

As well, his live shows have good press, the Chicago Sun Times advising music lovers to "make way for the next big-time guitar slinger, wire-walking Tampa, Fla., native Damon Fowler. This kid can play, garnering big raves for his power trio's live shows."

For the first time in Fowler's career, Northwest audiences will be able to experience all that for themselves. The 31 year-old Floridian is beginning his West Coast debut with an ambitious schedule that takes him from Arizona to Canada.

He's thankful for the chance, Fowler said. "For us being a Florida band, it is really tough to make it out there, to travel out there and go for it."

When he saw "Walla Walla" pop up on the tour schedule, the musician was intrigued.

"I thought 'Cool. Where is that?'"

Word is quickly coming down the pipe, however, that there is a "core of blues freaks" in the Northwest, Fowler said with a laugh. "I think it's going to be fun."

There was a time this tour would have been out of the question. In 2005 Fowler was headed for a gig in the band's van when a car veered off the highway and came right back on. While Fowler had his vehicle under control as he avoided a collision, he was immediately slammed from behind by the driver of a pickup.

The impact sent the van into a flip, the rig landing on the driver's side and Fowler's head and shoulders meeting the asphalt.

Rehabilitation of his shoulder and skull required multiple skin grafts and about a year of Fowler's life.

He couldn't even lift his arm to play for a chunk of that period, which ended up giving him the first break from music since the passion blossomed years before he had facial hair.

Maybe even before underarm hair.

"It was heavy, but it gave me a chance to refine my music," Fowler explained.

He is taking highway safety very seriously on this trip, said the young man, even in his excitement to go West. "I'm a changed driver. Seat belt safety all the way."

Tickets are $10 at the hotel prior to concert time and at the door, and at Hot Poop Stereo. For more information call 509-520-8822.


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