Q&A with masterful Canadian troubadour David Owen – heavy Americana with African-Americana influence
An Interview with Dave Owen by Michael Limnios * – 2022
“I think the blues help people to realize that others have the same problems and issues they do. Empathy, I want people to understand and connect to what I’m writing about.”
David Owen: Americana Blues
Masterful Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist David Owen to release his new album “Oh Suzana Blues”. Recorded in Nashville, David Owen’s latest and best yet recording, Oh Suzana Blues (Release Date April 15, 2022), celebrates the popular entertainer and respected acoustic-blues veteran’s triumphant return after a horrific tragedy and self-imposed exile. David, who accompanies himself on guitar and blues harp, was last heard from in 2015, with Livin’ Life, a recording that created real blues-world buzz. The Ottawa-born troubadour’s life-long musical quest died four summers later, sadly, when the police showed up at his door to inform him that his wife and mother of their three children, Suzana, had been in a boating accident at Lake Joseph, in the Muskokas. David rushed his children to a hospital in Sudbury to be informed of her passing and allow the children to say their goodbyes. It would take months for the singer-songwriter, who had been estranged from his wife, to write the goodbye song to his lost love, however.
That song, “Oh Suzana Blues”, along with “Stella Marie” a song specifically about Suzana’s death are the heart and soul of David’s latest album. “Oh Suzana our time went oh so fast, I wish I could have slowed it down and made it last”. Oh Suzana Blues is produced by guitarist extraordinaire and blues legend Colin Linden, who has played and recorded with Keb Mo, Lucinda Williams and Bob Dylan, and many others. Joining David and Colin on this recording are Dominic Davies and Fats Kaplin. Before tragedy and the pandemic struck, Dave’s career had been steadily building in Ottawa, Toronto and other parts of Canada since the ‘80s. In addition to headlining his own shows, the gifted singer-guitarist-songwriter has opened for the immortal Bobby “Blue” Bland, Muddy Waters’ boy, Big Bill Morganfield, Sue Foley and many others. He continues to live in Uxbridge, Ontario, where earlier this winter he fashioned a “rink of dreams” for he and Suzana’s three young children.
Michael Limnios: How has the Blues influenced your views of the world? What do you learn about yourself from the blues?
David Owen: The blues allows me to express life at a simple level, It’s about simple everyday experiences, whether happy, tragic, or just mondain. Much like the country music’s famous saying, “its 3 chords and the truth”. I think the biggest thing we learn is that we all have problems, and it helps us to realize we are not alone in our suffering.
M.L. How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?
D.O. My music or sound is Americana heavy with an African-Americana influence. I’ve been surrounded by music my whole life, as a baby my father would lull me to sleep softly singing “The Cowboy Lament” (Streets of Larado). As a young boy my father listened to lots of folk music (Burl Ives, Jim Robertson) and Irish folk music. The Clancy brothers were on the turntable constantly!
M.L. What do you think is key to a life well lived? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
D.O. Balance is the key to a life well lived. mind, body, and soul. With happiness at the forefront.
M.L. Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
D.O. I played a bill once that also included Albert King, after my performance Mr. King came up to me and told me he really enjoyed my performance. I was dumbfounded!
M.L. What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?
D.O. What’s to miss! We have it all now thanks to the “innertube” it’s easy to find old recordings and do research. I remember as a teenager going through bins of records at shops trying to find stuff like Big Bill Broonzy and Blind Willie McTell and such. It was very difficult to find. So much easier today. I hope the blues lives on as an art form for generations to come.
M.L. If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
D.O. We need to find a way to properly compensate musicians through the current platforms that People are listening to music today. For independent artists it’s extremely difficult to make money from their recordings.
M.L. What is the impact of Blues on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want the music to affect people?
D.O. I think the blues help people to realize that others have the same problems and issues they do. Empathy, I want people to understand and connect to what I’m writing about.
M.L. What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?
D.O. Get paid up front! Lol
M.L. Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?
D.O. The roaring 20’s! life was good, music was great, hopefully we will be back to that mindset once this pandemic is over. Either that or the 30’s when guitar makers were at there best. Martins and Gibson’s of that era are far superior to any other generation.