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Thursday, 17 May 2007

Since 1975, Andy Owens has played Bluegrass music, sometimes in the mainstream, sometimes in the tributaries or the branches, but always with one thing in mind, to perform music that speaks to him, and that he hopes speaks to his listeners. With Kentucky roots and a Texas attitude, gained from being born and raised in Kentucky, but starting and honing his music skills after moving to Texas as a teenager, Owens brings Bluegrass music to life on just about every instrument used in the genre, but is most comfortable on instruments of the mandolin family, such as mandolin, mandola, octave mandolin and mandocello, and of course with another important tool, his pleasing voice, sometimes high, sometimes low, sometimes lonesome, sometimes right in your face.

Owens has recorded five solo projects to date, his first being Kerosene Circuit, full of great original material in a time (1992) that this was somewhat of an abnormal thing, and using sidemen such as Jerry Douglas, David Grier, Mark Shatz, Sam Bush and Stuart Duncan, and produced and engineered by the great Bil Vorndick. The title cut, Kerosene Circuit, a great song by Owens’ fellow Texan compadre Steve Hartz, held it’s place in the Bluegrass Unlimited chart’s top ten list for over nine months, and is still a staple of many dj’s around the world. His second solo release, Real Music, is representative of his great live band at that time, The Andy Owens Project, and is filled with great original songs, great picking and gives all the impressive band members a chance to shine. This project was also recorded and produced by Bil Vorndick.

One Eye Open, the third of this string of recordings, was a cd made by the Project of songs being played on a tour of Japan where Owens was joined by three time National Flatpicking Champion Steve Kaufman, and is a good rollicking recording representing the live show performed by the Project on a whirlwind tour of Japan in the late 1990’s. In 1999, Owens sold out of everything in Texas, disbanded the Project for a while, and took his family on a one year music tour of the world, the Bluegrass Expedition, clocking over 63,000 miles, circling the globe twice and performing and visiting over 28 countries. At this time, it was fitting that he was Chairman of the Board of the IBMA, the International Bluegrass Music Association, and this began path of Bluegrass Ambassadorship that has continued to this day. To date, he has performed in 34 countries, and has a stated goal to perform Bluegrass in 100 countries before his reaches his 60th birthday, in 2016, having been directed by Bill Monroe himself to do so.

After the Bluegrass Expedition, Owens moved his family and collection of instruments and recording studio equipment to the mountains of North Carolina, so as to be closer to the music of his calling. He moved to a wonderful log cabin retreat high on a hill in the home town of Doc Watson, Deep Gap, North Carolina, where he spent the next five years mainly producing and recording other artists in his Lonesome Pine studio. (www.lonesomepine.com )

During the late 1990’s and early 2000’s Owens also broadened his perspective with adventurous travel and attention to his other myriad business pursuits and hobbies, such as hunting, fishing, shooting, telecom consulting, farming, woodworking, luthierie and scuba diving, a sport in which he is as highly trained as possible, and has dove in dozens of countries and to depths of over 300 feet. In 2005 he decided he had spent enough time on other people’s music and called on his old friends from the Czech Republic, the great band Druha Trava, to help him record a new cd with a totally different sound from anything he had done before. Drive South is a powerful cd of original and cover songs that highlighted a new sound for Owens’ voice, a more mature sounding, lower register and soaring vocals with incredibly intelligent and tasteful playing by the Czech virtuoso band.

While on tour in the Czech Republic supporting Drive South in 2006, Owens had a kind of epiphany which made him remember how much he loves international touring, playing Bluegrass for crowds of people that don’t often get the chance to hear a real Kentucky boy sing the songs that they have heard sometimes only on records or cds, or by their local heroes, but maybe with just not quite the accent that makes the song speak to the heart of the listener.

This awakening also brought about an outflow of original material, dozens of songs written in the last part of 2006 and early 2007, which Owens captured and recorded in the same time frame with Druha Trava over several trips to the Czech Republic, and which has now resulted in his latest recording effort, A Melody for You, available on his own label, 1-800-Bluegrass Records (www.1800bluegrass.com )

Along the way of this inspiring and amazing journey, Owens has played many different types of Bluegrass music, from the traditional east Texas sound of the Fredonia Rebellion in the 1970s, to the wild and avant garde, much ahead of it’s time punkgrass band The Foves in Austin the 1980’s, to the Dallas based Andy Owens Project in the 1990’s, and now with his North Carolina and European bands he is settling into a new and comfortable place, a place in which he can take the life experiences and events that have occurred in his fifty years and translate those into songs that speak from the heart. With intelligent heartfelt material, using the best possible musicians to deliver his messages, and by aspiring to a worldwide digital distribution system with his website www.andyowens.com, people all around the world are now getting a chance to hear what this old Kentucky boy has to say. Owens is now touring Europe and the US with Druha Trava to support this latest recording, and is now available for concerts in Europe with Druha Trava, or in the US with Druha Trava or his newest band configuration, Andy Owens and 1-800-Bluegrass. For bookings or other information, please visit www.andyowens.com.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 17 May 2007 )
 
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