Return of the Colony: David Bowers says he's halfway dead, but his music is fully alive | Sound Stories & Interviews | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
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Return of the Colony: David Bowers says he's halfway dead, but his music is fully alive 

David Bowers is celebrating the release of the David Bowers Colony's first full-length album on Saturday night. Two days later he turns 44 years old.

"For me that's halfway dead, because, ya know, if I made it to 88 that would be pretty sweet," Bowers says.

He could pass for younger with just a few wispy gray hairs around his temples and a bone curled through his left ear lobe (a style he says is inspired in part by the Decemberists' Chris Funk, an acquaintance from Bowers' Eugene days) but seems comfortable with his age, as well as his status in the local music scene.

"It's a weird age to be doing this. You're supposed to play in rock and roll bands in your 20s, but I'm definitely a far better guitarist than I was in my 20s," Bowers says with a grin over a cup of coffee. "Now I feel like if something really good happened by 46 - that would be when Lucinda Williams really broke - that would be cool."

The story of the David Bowers Colony over the past year and a half is somewhat strange. The band recorded its album back in November of 2007 during some rocky personal times for Bowers. It then set out on a 10-show West Coast tour while Bowers was without a permanent residence. The band of local all-star musicians piled in a mini van and hit the road - which any band can tell you doesn't always yield the most peachy results.

"The tour was rough in parts. There were areas that were phenomenal. But it puts a lot on a band to tour in a mini van pulling a little trailer, and I certainly contributed my share to that dysfunction," says Bowers, who considers himself a "half-time musician". He spends the other half of his professional life working as a government contractor as a self-described "plant geek."

But this isn't to say the Colony was down and out after the tour- they actually played a raucous show opening for Hillstomp at the Domino Room in June and packed the Parrilla parking lot soon after. But the Colony - a name Bowers chose to convey the flexible lineup of the band - has been largely quiet since then...until now.

"We just had to break apart for a little bit and let it sit so that when we came back into it we had perspective," Bowers says.

With the CD ready for release, Bowers has assembled much of the album's squad for Saturday's show. The self-titled record features both the funk and the folk of the Colony's live show while staying true to Bowers' familiar rusty-Americana-getting-drunk-on-early-Neil-Young songwriting structure. Parts of the 11-track album are also deeply personal. The track "Dogfight" was written and recorded when Bowers and then wife Julie Southwell, whose soaring violin carries the track, were, as Bowers puts it, "not doing well." And yes, these are indeed the aforementioned "rocky personal times" that preceded the tour.

"The fact that she plays lead in a song that's about us is pretty intense," Bowers says.

The record also touches on Bowers' youth - which is a story in its own. The musician grew up in a small town outside of Ellensburg, Wash. without electricity or plumbing and gave up on school soon after entering the seventh grade. He did, however, earn a GED by 17 and studied theater at Lane Community College while playing in a number of bands. Those stints included a couple of punk acts, as well as a collaborative with a "radical gay Jewish poet who was raised Catholic" while Bowers was living in Missoula.

Bowers has plenty more stories like this and should have more to come. After all, he's only halfway dead.

David Bowers Colony, Shireen Amini opens
8:30pm Saturday, January 31. Silver Moon Brewing Co. 24 NW Greenwood Ave. $3.
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