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Saturday, 17 March 2007
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EWOB & Europe Tour in May
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Owens himself has toured widely outside the United States. In addition to multi-faceted musical talents (he sings, writes songs, produces, builds & repairs instruments, and plays mandolin, banjo, guitar, fiddle, Dobro and pedal steel), Andy has performed bluegrass music in 34 different countries around the world…so far. His goal is to hit 100 in the next ten years.

Owens will hit the road again, mandolin in hand, with Czech bluegrass superstars Druha Trava during the month of May 2007, with dates scheduled so far in Slovakia, Bulgaria, Switzerland, England, Scotland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and the Czech Republic. The first leg of the tour from May 1-20 will feature Andy with Lubos Novotny on resophonic guitar, Lubos Malina on banjo and whistles, Emil Formanek on guitar and Petr Sury on bass. Renowned Czech songwriter and Druha Trava band leader/lead singer Robert Krestan will appear with Owens and the band for the May 5 kick-off concert in Bratislava, Slovakia, rejoining them later on May 21 in Ulm, Germany, through the remainder of the month.

“Besides being one of my best friends, Andy is a great singer and songwriter—and I have always enjoyed such company,” says Lubos Malina, with Druha Trava. “This is actually not our first collaboration. He helped us produce our Czechmate CD nine years ago and also sang on it. Andy has toured with us in our country several times, and we have played shows with him in the States, too. For this tour, we will play entire concerts as his band and will present his musical ideas,” Lubos adds. “Also, we have recorded many of his songs for a new CD and these will be the basis of the show. I really look forward to playing with him again.”

Originally from Kentucky, with moves to Los Angeles, West Virginia and then Texas while his father pursued a medical education and practice, Andy’s past bands have included The Fredonia Rebellion, The Foves, Danger in the Air, Killbilly, and The Andy Owens Project. He recorded three albums of original bluegrass music in the ‘90s.

In addition to songwriting and touring in the U.S. and abroad, Owens currently manages a toll-free telephone marketing business (1-800-Pathways) and the bed & breakfast-style Lonesome Pine recording studio in the mountains outside Deep Gap, N.C. (www.lonesomepine.com). At home, Owens is teaching his 15-year-old son, Cameron how to repair and build instruments, and father and son are also putting together an edgy, jamgrass-flavored band called freeGrass that will appeal to the local college and young “Deadhead” market. Cameron Owens is the current bass player in both freeGrass and The Andy Owens Project. Older son Stuart, a fiddler, is a pre-med student in college.

Andy and Druha Trava have collaborated on a new CD, Drive South, which features Andy on lead vocals and mandolin backed by the band. The song list includes a couple of originals, along with covers from The Allman Brothers, John Hiatt and Warren Zevon. “We were experimenting musically and kind of looking for a ‘sound’ with this project because I’m wanting to start touring a lot more with them,” Owens explains. Cuts include songs like “And When I Die,” Zevon’s “Frank and Jesse James,” “Sweet Melissa,” “Turn the Page,” “Amazing Grace,” and the oft-requested “Kentucky Waltz,” along with originals “Ballad of Bessie Byrd” and “Danger in the Air”—the latter penned by Owens’ long-time musical “soul mate,” Steve Hartz, plus an instrumental from Druha Trava’s Lubos Malina, “Brazos Bottoms.”

It’s an experiment that worked. No matter which way the set list zigs or zags, Andy’s soulful, free-flying vocals and galloping mandolin are the connecting elements, backed by a band that can literally handle anything thrown at them. “They’re so tight. It’s just unreal,” Andy says about Druha Trava. (The name translates to “Second Grass” in Czech.) “I love playing with European bands; there’s such attention to dynamics, more not playing than playing sometimes, and only playing things that make a difference to the song.”

Andy agrees that the camaraderie he feels with this band, both musically and personally, is like a family. “That’s exactly how it is,” he states emphatically. “They’re my brothers, and it’s been that way since I met them 10 years ago at the IBMA convention. It was a chance meeting, the first year they came to Owensboro. I was always looking for a jam that didn’t have a mandolin player, and they were jamming in the back room in the Bluegrass Unlimited suite. I picked up a mandolin and started playing with them. Then we got to be friends, and I started to facilitate tours for them.”

Last Updated ( Saturday, 17 March 2007 )
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