I have spoken to many artists plenty in person and others on the phone or through Zoom that have taken place in a variety of places but seeing the fields of Oklahoma in the morning (virtually) is definitely one of the prettiest backdrops for an interview. The other unique thing about speaking with Paul Bogart is that I had never before spoken to anyone about music whilst they have been riding on horseback!
Hailing from northeast Oklahoma, Paul Bogart is a real life cowboy and his music is as traditional as you will find, that tells his stories in a truly authentic fashion. Now living primarily in Nashville but since early June when restrictions started to ease, the Bogart’s have headed back to Oklahoma where in addition to working on music, Paul was in preparation for a roping competition (more on that later) where he was joined by his son Jett and the real star of the show Itchy as we got to know this really exquisite purveyor of traditional country music. Firstly on life during the current global pandemic:
It’s been interesting, this is the time of year where I make a living, we get on the road in April/May and hit it hard all the way through September then it’s festival season then take a break in November and that’s kind of my year so right now there is no living to be made in the music industry to speak of. It has been a sweet time with family though, my wife and I have a 3 year old and a 2 year old both with Birthday’s in the month of March, my wife stays at home and she raises our boys so nothing was terribly different for her because she is at home a lot anyway but it’s very strange for me. My normal week pre COVID-19 is being at home Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday then hitting the road to play all weekend and making it back by Monday so it’s been pretty strange, but I’ve loved it getting more time with the family. We’ve got to record a little bit so thankfully it hasn’t just been twiddling my thumbs, I’ve worked with the band and we’ve done maybe 8 songs. I don’t know if they will all make a record or a release, but we’ve tried to be productive, though the problem is we don’t have much of a legitimate income to pay for it all. My wife and I live conservatively, it’s the nature of my business. I’m running a small business, just the nature of it is music. Some months are fat and healthy then some months are a little leaner so you plan for that and you expect it but this is a different beast here.
and the effect of not playing shows along with where things may be on the horizon in his diary:
It’s so strange, we had a show booked in March in Tulsa, OK and they rescheduled a month later. I was OK, I’m not in a position to turn down work then you get 2 weeks away from that where they cancel and reschedule again for the next month, so I’m like really? I’m not even going to put that one on the calendar! Then sure enough they called 2 weeks out and cancelled but my next scheduled show with them is in August and I have one concert still on the books in late July that we’re still kind of wondering if it’s still going to happen. I was sort of holding out for Wyoming, honestly it felt like the state of Wyoming just did what they wanted to do, then the governor shut down all the professional rodeos and we were supposed to play 2 of those which was going to be a big chunk of my summer income wrapped around those because you build a tour.
Despite not being out on the road, Bogart released his latest single “When She Gets a Hold on You” (Listen HERE) on June 19th which is a uplifting love ballad telling a classic love story that was co-written alongside Nicole Witt and Trent Willmon which is a pure, honest country song that is traditional and above all real.
I’m a traditional country kind of guy and anyone that’s followed my music for very long at all, knows that about me. Good, bad or ugly that is the music that I’m comfortable with, that’s the music that I know how to write and play. I respect people making more contemporary country music, I totally respect them. I don’t necessarily know how to do it, I don’t know how to be like Sam Hunt but nobody would believe me if I was trying. Hey I’m doing a Zoom call sat on a horse, this is who I am and if I was trying to do anything different I would be a fake. The biggest compliment to me is when people respond to my music whether they have ever worn a cowboy hat or not, it’s when people respond to my music because they feel that I believe that guy. It’s authentic, I trust that guy he’s being real and people respond in that way which is why I do what I do.
It has been almost 3 years since his last full length release “Leather” and the industry is becoming more driven towards a flow of singles opposed to more extensive projects which along with the current pandemic is creating a change in focus regarding how he is now looking to release music:
It’s new to me! I put out my last full-length album in 2017, we worked that album, I enjoyed the whole process putting the album together and I loved working with Trent Willmon who produced it. Since then I’ve only released singles which I’ve never done before, it’s worked well for us because honestly it’s given us more content. It’s a different outlook to a full length album but for one as an independent artist you don’t have to spend $40,000 to do an independent album. Let’s just go and do one session! Let’s do 3 songs then release them every couple of months so you have got content and got new stuff to get in front of people all the time. It’s something for the media to talk about and you’re maintaining those impressions, keeps it in front of people without putting the whole load on them. You can release what may have been a deep cut back in 2017, you can release that cowboy song or whatever and people can know the song better. It’s a paradigm shift that I’m still getting used to.
Music isn’t the only great passion in his life, as the western imagery completes with a long standing association with the rodeo which would give the explanation of the truly brilliant and unique experience of doing a Zoom interview with a man riding a horse, so Paul enlightened me on how these two closely interact in his life:
I compete in roping competitions where you have a header who ropes the cows head and a heeler who ropes the cow’s heels so the back feet. Rodeo paid for my bachelor’s degree in college which is a different way of life I know! Music is how I make my living, but the rodeo is more than a serious hobby, when I was about Jett’s age that’s when I started seriously riding and learning how to do this, then I started competing when I was probably 10 or so and just got kind of better and progressed. Music was always in the midst of it though, we were always doing music. My mom still plays the piano at the church house and weekly she’s prepping songs for church, so faith and music has always been in the mix with the lifestyle of the cowboy thing, so it was a both and situation. It was in college though when it became, I can make a living doing this and it shifted to being super serious.
Although Paul, like many artists, is unable to perform on stage at present, fans can catch him on Facebook with his regular live Homebound Hoedown shows on Sunday nights and can keep up with Paul through his website, Facebook and Instagram.