Column: Billy “The Rev.” Gibbons wife of SD musicians


Who was the happy couple whose Rock Hall of Famer Billy F. Gibbons married near the stage at the San Diego Blues Festival at the Embarcadero last Saturday?

The ZZ Top co-founder, before headlining the blues festival, stood with his back to the bay just outside the front door. There, he administered the wedding vows to San Diego singer-songwriters Tim Lowman and Dani Bell, who have been together for five years.

Their one-month-old daughter, Marlow Rae, was in the gathering of around 20 family and friends – and a few passing strangers.

Lowman, an electro-blues rock ‘n’ roll musician who performs as a solo band, Low Volts, is a three-time San Diego Music Award winner. He and his new wife have their own bands (his is Dani Bell and The Tarantist) and have recorded duets together.

Radio DJ Tim Pyles, who played a role in their rapprochement with Gibbons, posted the marital photos on his Facebook page.

“It was pretty cool having the Pied Piper lead us through the grass to the harbor,” Pyles says. “He read the vows on his phone.”

Gibbons, whose nickname is “The Reverend,” is an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church. He has celebrated several marriages, including the second marriage of country singer Billy Joe Shaver in 2008 and the marriage of Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh.

“I’ve done probably 50 to 60 weddings over the last two decades,” Gibbons said in a 2018 interview with the Midland (Mich.) Daily News. “The most memorable was at a giant IKEA store. I mean a wedding furnished with Swedish meatballs, is that great?”

Lowman says being married to Billy Gibbons was a four-year dream. When he learned that Gibbons was headlining the 2022 San Diego Blues Festival, Lowman began reaching out to people in the music industry who might be able to make it happen.

His friend, Tim Pyles, contacted his buddy Brian Witkin, manager of Pacific Records in San Diego, who connected Gibbons. Witkin’s young son served as ring bearer.

In a separate quest, Lowman continued the story of his great-grandfather, J. Warren “Doc” Lowman, a traveling gospel singer in the Midwest. For years, the framed photo of “Doc” Lowman hung on the wall of his house.

Family history records that the elder Lowman was accused of a murder he did not commit, convicted, and sentenced to death by electric chair.

Miraculously, a key witness came forward at the eleventh hour, proved Lowman was elsewhere at the time of the murder, and he was exonerated and released.

The gospel singer wrote a memoir, “Up from the Depths,” about his near-death experience.

Intrigued by his great-grandfather’s story, Lowman persuaded a friend, Andrew Rowley, to make a documentary of it. “Doc: Lowman”, an eight-minute film, now on youtubewas screened as one of many “extraordinary people shorts” at the Oceanside International Film Festival last February.

Hoping to capture Gibbons’ attention, Lowman sent the guitarist a copy of the video “so he knows our story”.

“The video resonated with him,” adds Lowman. “He literally said, ‘Let’s make some history. “”

Dani says the wedding “was a dream come true – everything I could have hoped for”.

There was a bounty. Gibbons signed Lowman’s guitar – “ZZ BFG 22” – and promised to send a book he recommended on successful relationships.

“A wedding couldn’t get off to a more emotional start,” San Diego Blues Festival producer Michael Kinsman posted on his Facebook page.

Jerry Sanders holds up a 2006 calendar with his former SDPD mayor, Larry Lieber (left) and Odie Gallop.

(Paul Nestor)

Sanders named ‘Mr. San Diego’

Jerry Sanders has been celebrated as the “Mr. San Diego” on Thursday, with former San Diego City Manager Jack McGrory making the presentation.

“Jerry is extremely nervous about what I’m going to say,” McGrory said of the former mayor and police chief, who now heads the regional Chamber of Commerce.

He noted that he had just made a video for another organization honoring Sanders, and other groups had recently asked him to participate in similar tributes.

“So I called Jerry and said, ‘Do you have some kind of life-threatening illness? People seem to be in a race to give you rewards.

The toast/roast combo, hosted by the San Diego Rotary Club 33, kicked off with video comments from State Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Toni Atkins and San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria.

Among the diverse lineup of speakers were Larry Lieber and Odie Gallop, San Diego Police Department officers assigned to Sanders’ security details from 2005 to 2012 when he was mayor.

After speaking, Sanders was grateful. “There were so many things you could have said. I’m so relieved.”

However, he did not completely get away with it. They presented the newest “Mr. San Diego” with a copy of the 2006 law enforcement beefcake calendar for which they were asked to pose shirtless as a fundraiser – a reminder of their service.

In an unusual twist, Sanders was applauded for something he didn’t do — he didn’t use his mayoral job as a stepping stone to higher office.

“He was never interested in being a politician,” noted Superior Court Presiding Judge Michael T. Smyth, a neighbor and family friend, who swore in Sanders as mayor 17 years ago. Instead, Sanders was driven by doing what was good for the city.

After the reminiscences, “Mr. San Diego” 2022 looked forward, not back, expressing his excitement for the next generation of leaders. “They have new ideas. They have new solutions, and they have a new energy to take us where we are going.


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