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Saturday, 17 March 2007
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Andy lived in several towns in Kentucky while growing up, with moves to Los Angeles, West Virginia and then Texas while his father pursued a medical education and practice. In fact, while in Dallas in the ‘80s Andy convinced Dixie Chicks founder Robin Macy that she needed to leave folk music and play bluegrass with him in a band they co-founded called Danger in the Air. He later introduced her to the Erwin sisters and recorded the first Dixie Chicks demo for the band. “It was three songs,” he recalls, smiling: “’Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight,’ ‘Rider’ and “Sally Goodin.’ I have a cassette copy of it somewhere. I wonder what that is worth?” Owens also introduced the Chicks to Austin-based producer/engineer Larry Seyer, who helped them with their first full length CD, Little Ol’ Cowgirl. Larry, in turn, introduced the girls to Lloyd Maines, father of current lead singer, Natalie Maines, and the rest is history. Andy likes to joke, “If not for me, there would be no Dixie Chicks, but they still don’t take my calls now.”

andy.jpg Owens was introduced to bluegrass music by friends. “I coon hunted a lot as a teenager in east Texas, hunting until 3 in the morning and driving an hour and a half to get home at 5 in the morning and then going to school the next day,” he recalls. “Back in the early ‘70s WBAP would play a bluegrass breakdown at the top of hour, and I always made sure I had the radio on during those late night hunting trips. I had some coon hunting buddies who played, and I just kind of became surrounded by people who played.
“I picked up a banjo and took some lessons from Gerald Jones,” Andy continues. “I went to Austin College in north Texas, which was a pre-med specialty college. I have no clue how my dad got me in there,” he marvels. “I was coon hunting every night and dragging in at 3 or 4 in the morning and going to my physics classes—and it was not where I needed to be.”

Andy left school and took up construction work, continuing to play music (and coon hunt). He met some young musicians at a local jam session who were about to become freshmen students at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas and decided, on a serendipitous whim, to register at their college the following week to continue the picking sessions. “I was there for six or seven years,” Owens says. “That’s where I met Steve Hartz, who’s written a lot of songs for me, and I also met a lot of other people there who ended up making my whole business career happen later in life, too. It was kind of weird. I never did well in school,” Andy admits. “I always felt like I’d rather play the banjo. I started singing and playing the banjo and then I started the mandolin, and whatever band configuration I was in—whatever we needed—I would just learn to play it. I wanted to play everything and be the ‘utility’ guy in the band.”

Last Updated ( Monday, 16 April 2007 )
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