Q&A with Masterful Canadian Minstrel David Owen: Strong American with African-American Influence
Midwest Record – Interview
JASON PALMER/Live from Summit Rock in Seneca Village: There’s a lot of civil rights and black history in this live, outdoor date that serves as Palmer’s pandemic record. Palmer is a solid, reliable trumpeter that can launch from a solo spotlight into a fearless leader with very little in the way. Recording in a format that frees his soul to fly high, this emotionally driven date hit’s the target for the sitting down jazz fan that really wants a good, deep listen that flows easily but mightily.
(Giant Step Arts 7)
BURTON-McPHERSON TRIO/Summit Rock Session at Seneca Village: The sax led progressive trio steps up and skronks it out in the classic New York tradition that takes the highs and lows to their ultimate extremes, often at the same time. Playing through almost like an ESP date that never was, this modern take on free jazz is for those who know what it is to have their ears opened wide by pros.
(Giant Step Arts 6)
VINCENT DING/Incredible Views From Above: I didn’t know what to expect here. We have an Asian kid who had parents with their own vision for him and he didn’t defy them until he met their expectations and then figured it was time to cash out. He digs big band and oldies but you can tell he didn’t learn from singing into his hair brush aping Buble or Groban. It’s his unique phrasing and ability to act like Sinatra—but as a member of the band, not as Sinatra fronting the band that makes this happen. He’s also hip enough to have Brandee Younger hiding out in the mix. This is a really neat, sweet treat for vocal fans, especially those waiting for someone to go big or go home.
(Next Level 2216)
MAYA MAGUB/Consolations: You can do you. Me? Sunday morning? Rather than get up, get dressed and go out for eggs at a $45 brunch, I’d rather take my time, run the Keurig and let a gorgeous classical duo recital like this wash over me and ease me into getting awake until football comes on. Warming us up with a few classical greatest hits before launching into an extended Liszt program for violin and piano, This British violinist proves that you don’t have to be a hot, young Asian chick to master the art and the instrument. Designed to be a comfort album, she fires on all eight to hit this out of the park (proper use of violent metaphors?—-you know what I mean)
JOHNNY SANSONE/Into Your Blues: This grizzled white boy with the blues has been a music biz lifer since your grand parents first discovered pot and he’s been continually honing his roots chops since. There are a few distinct tribes for white boys with the blues and he’s leading his own pack of all stars here sending out no message other than ‘let’s blow the roof off this sucker’. Rollicking throughout and we salute him for it.
(Short Stack 1013)
RAFFI-LINDSAY MUNROE/Nursery Rhymes for Kinder Times: Boy, does this set back me into a corner. When the Magastanians blow their dog whistle for a civil war. I hear it and I want to respond—-against them. So how do I respond to this set of declawed classic nursery rhymes where the three blind mice don’t get their tails cut off and the baby that falls from the tree top gets caught? Well, there’s a lot of us that rubbed dirt in it, walked it off, didn’t wear bike helmets and fought against real enemies of freedom and we turned out all right. This is a sweet little album and their hearts are in the right place but the cost of freedom is eternal vigilance, and that’s a tough one to dispel.
NICK BINKLEY/Stardust Angels Ghosts: You could say this is a singer/songwriter protest album that’s arrived 50 years too late but presto chango, nothing seems to have changed. Except Binkley’s musical milieus. Mercifully as far from the 70s college coffee house as you can get, this is a modern protest set—-with real protest, not kvetching and whining. If you’ve got at least a year of college under your belt and a part time job that has you continually watching the clock, boy—–are you going to get this. Righteous.
THE HARPOONIST & THE AXE MURDERER/Live at the King Eddy: This blues rock bunch sounds like they are best captured live because they are party people and it’s too tempting not to catch spontaneity in the studio. Heavily on the rootsy side of the ledger, they just have a flat out good time jamming and rocking out letting the good times roll. It’s a party platter ideally suited for after hours parties.
DAVID OWEN/Oh Suzanna Blues: Any pal of Colin Linden’s that shows up with a feast of meat and potatoes is a friend of ours. Tired of hearing about those legendary Dave Van Ronk albums you can’t find? Owen and Linden Ronk it up without any of the sloppiness that rambled around those Van Ronk records making them so hard to find now. A growling blues folkie in a simple setting that writes smartly and can ape Gary Davis just as well when it’s time to drop one of those in. There’s no way a traditional folkie can resist this.
ANGEL FORREST/Angel’s 11 V. 2: There’s something to be said for the rise of the Internet and the fall of the mass market. It’s good for folk rockers with Janis edges because they can make wonderful records that fly under the radar and reach all the right people. A Canadian that knows lots of the right people north of the border writes her own stuff but that doesn’t mean this isn’t her vision of Nanci Griffith‘s “Trip to Bountiful”. A solid, sturdy set that was just made for keeping handy in the car.
(Ad Litteram 721)
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.