EMAIL INTERVIEW BY J. PHILBRICK  7/23/18  15 QUESTIONS

1. AS A SONGWRITER DO YOU WRITE LYRICS OR MUSIC FIRST, OR IS THERE NO PATTERN?  

USUALLY I WRITE THE MUSIC FIRST. THEN MUMBLE THROUGH THE VERSES. MOST TIMES LYRICLY,  I GET A REAL CATCHY CHORUS HOOK LINE AND TAKE IT FROM THERE.

2. DO YOUR SONGS " JUST COME TO YOU ", OR DO YOU REGULARLY WORK ON WRITING.

EVERY DAY I TRY TO PLAY MY GUITAR. SOMETIMES A SONG HAPPENS. SOMETIMES  NOT.  I"M NOT A PAID MUSIC ROW WRITER WHO WORKS FOR A PUBLISHER FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

3. DID YOUR UPRINGING HELP DEVELOP YOUR MUSICAL TASTE AND DIRECTION? AND IF SO HOW? 

WE HAD A RECORD PLAYER CONSOLE IN THE HOUSE. MOM HAD SOME 78's. BIG BAND STUFF, THEN A FEW 33'S.  PETER PAUL AND MARY, BURL IVES, PERRY COMO. I ALWAYS LIKED " CATCH A FALLEN STAR ".  MY BROTHER BILL REALLY GOT ME INTO RECORDING ARTISTS,  SINGERS, DOO WOP GROUPS . HE GOT THE PARAGONS MEET THE DRIFTERS AND OTHER STUFF. DION AND THE BELMONTS. I ENDED UP WITH A ALTO SAX BUT SWITCHED OVER TO GUITAR AS SOON AS THE BEATLES APPEARED ON THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW.  MY MUSICAL TASTES HAVE CHANGED OVER THE YEARS BUT I ALWAYS KNEW WHAT DID IT FOR ME. I KNEW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN "SUGAR SUGAR " AND  " I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND " 

4. WHEN DID YOU START PLAYING BASS AND HOW DID IT COME ABOUT?

WELL A GUY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, JOHN MANALAKAS WAS SELLING A HAGSTROM BASS FOR $75.00 DOLLARS AND LIKE THE GAME SHOW " THE PRICE WAS RIGHT ". I ALWAYS LIKED BEATLE PAUL'S BASS LINES SO THAT"S  WHAT GOT ME TO SWITCH OVER.

5. DO YOU KNOW A SONG YOU'VE WRITTEN IS VERY GOOD? WHEN DOES THAT ACKNOWEDGMENT TYPICALLY HAPPEN?

I GET A FEELING  INSIDE ABOUT THE SONG. I"LL TWEAK THE LYRICS IF I NEED TO. SOMETIMES I'LL SING DFFERENT WORDS IF I FEEL THEY DON"T CONVEY WHAT NEEDS TO BE SAID. EVEN AFTER RECORDING. THEY ARE LIKE MY CHILDREN! THEY GROW.

6. DID YOU HAVE SOME RAMBLIN' AND CAROUSING DAYS AND DID IT HINDER OR DELAY YOUR DEVELOPMENT?

NO. IT WASN'T TILL I STOPPED PLAYING BASS FOR OTHER SONG WRITERS. THAT THE HINDERING STOPPED. THERE ARE A LOT OF EGOS INVOLVED WITH WRITERS AND FINALLY I HAD ENOUGH OF PLAYING BEHIND THEIR STUFF. I KNEW I COULD PEN A GOOD SONG. ALL MY ALBUMS PROVE THAT.  I'VE BEEN WRITING SINCE I STARTED WITH MY FIRST GARAGE BAND AND HAD A REAL RECHARGE IN 2009. IF YOU ARE REFERING TO DRUGS AND DRINK, NO DELAYS.

7. SEVERAL OF YOUR SONGS ARE ABOUT WOMEN, BY NAME. ARE THESE REAL PEOPLE, ACCURATELY PORTRAYED? OR, ARE THEY INVENTED, OR COMPOSITES OF THINGS YOU HAVE SEEN.

ALL THE ABOVE! " SHE'S JUST LORRAINE "  "DANCING REGINA " "MISSY BROWN" AND " GABRIELLE " ALL CREATIONS. TRUTH AND FICTION! I'VE BEEN BLESSED WITH A KEEN EYE AND VIVID IMAGINATION. " MISSY BROWN ", I WROTE IN 10 MINUTES AFTER WATCHING TOM PETTY SING"  YER SO BAD " ON VIDEO. " GABRIELLE " IS ABOUT A TOPLESS DANCER WHO FALLS IN LOVE WITH HER BODY GUARD NAMED EMMETT. IS IT TRUE, NO. IT' S  A GOOD STORY. A SAD ONE BUT A LOVE SONG!  THE SONG WAS RECORDED FOR THE LAST ALBUM BUT I'M SAVING IT FOR THE ALBUM TITLED "SONGS ABOUT GIRLS " HOW I GOT TO EACH SONG WOULD TAKE PARAGRAPHS. 

8. HOW DO YOU ASSEMBLE MUSICIANS TO RECORD YOUR ALBUMS? HOW MUCH REHEARSING IS TYPICALLY NEEDED? 

I USUALLY CALL MY FRIENDS AND SEE IF THEY ARE AVAILABLE FOR MY TIME FRAME. THEN I DECIDE WHERE I WANT TO RECORD AND IF THE STUDIO HAS THAT SPACE OPEN. I TRY TO GET THE BASIC TRACKS ( DRUMS, BASS, RHYTHM ACOUSTIC GUITAR AND GUIDE VOCAL) DONE IN THREE OR FOUR DAYS. THEN I SORT OF BUILD FROM THERE. REPLACING THE ACOUSTIC WITH A REAL TAKE, MAYBE DOUBLING IT AND THEN THE BEST VOCAL TAKES. REALLY NO REHEARSING. MAYBE A  FEW RUN THROUGHS  BEFORE TRACKING. AS A RULE I ALWAYS SEND OUT A BASIC DEMO WITH GUITAR / VOCAL. SOME OF THE MUSICIANS WORK OUT THE STUFF AT HOME , SOME DON'T. MONEY IS ALWAYS TIGHT AS AN INDIE ARTIST SO YOU TRY AND GET THE BEST RESULTS WITH THE BUDGET YOU HAVE. ALWAYS BLOWING THE BUDGET. I'VE BEEN LUCKY WITH THE CREW I USE. 

9. WHAT WAS YOUR BEST GIG AND WHY?

 MY BEST GIG IS IN MY LIVING ROOM. SITTING ON THE COUCH OR SPARE BED EARLY IN THE MORNING. I"M IN TOTAL CONTROL AND NOT NERVOUS IN FRONT OF FOLKS. MY LAST GIG AT DEE'S WAS VERY GOOD. I WAS HAPPY AND THE BAND I HAD PLAYED GREAT!  EIGHTEEN SONGS IS A BIG UNDERTAKING FOR ONE REHEARSAL 

10. CAN YOU MENTION ABOUT FIVE ALBUMS THAT HAVE REALLY AFFECTED YOU IN YOUR MUSICAL DEVELOPMENT.

THAT'S A TOUGH QUESTION.  GILDED PALACE OF SIN BY THE FLYING BURRITO BROS.... MR TAMBOURINE MAN BY THE BYRDS....GENE CLARK AND JIM'S RICKENBACKER. JOE ELY"S FIRST AND SECOND RECORD. JUST A GREAT BAND THE NEW RIDER'S FIRST ALBUM. JOHN DAWSON WAS A GREAT WRITER AND JERRY GARCIA PLAYED GREAT PEDAL STEEL..... JONI MITCHELL'S BLUE ALBUM BRINGS SORROW AND JOY AROUND CHRISTMAS EVERY YEAR TO ME. WISH I HAD A RIVER AND THE JOYFUL CAREY. I"M JUST GETTING STARTED, SO MANY OTHER ALBUMS TO MENTION.  TOM PETTY'S ECHO ALBUM. JOHN HIATT'S  SLOW TURNING, DILLARD  &  CLARK'S  TWO ALBUMS, THE O'KANES FIRST  ALBUM, OLD AND IN THE WAY , COUNTRY GAZETTE FIRST TWO ALBUMS AND EVEN GROVER WASHINGTON'S ALL THE KINGS HORSES, GREAT SMOOTHE TONES ON THAT SAX. GRATEFUL DEAD TWO AMERICANA ALBUMS. THE LIST GOES ON DAVE BROMBERG'S ALBUM WITH SHARON AND  DIAMOND LIL' . YEAH WONDERFUL STUFF! ROBERT EARL KEEN, RODNEY CROWELL GUY CLARK, STEVE EARLE,  BOB DYLAN, TOWNES,  PRINE..... I BETTER STOP JONATHAN EDWARDS. BEATLES, STONES, RAY DAVIES. SOUL ARTISTS, JAZZERS AND MORE, MORE, MORE. WILLIS ALAN RAMSEY  "PAINTED LADY "  LINDA, EMMY, NICOLETTE, LUCINDA, BOTH BONNIE'S …. RAITT AND BRAMLETT.

11. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RECORD AN ALBUM? ARE YOU INVOLVED IN THE RECORDING, MIXING AND OR EDITING?

MONEY,MONEY, CASH FLOW. SELLING OFF YOUR TREASURED INSTRUMENTS TO FINISH A PROJECT. KIND SOULS THROWING A HUNDRED TO YA. " COLORED BY THE BLUE" ABOUT A YEAR. FOUR MONTHS TO GET THE VINYL PRESSED. I DID MIXING AND A LOT OF THE EDITS. I COULD HAVE DONE MORE EDITS WITH " THE SMALL STUFF "  BUT I DIDN'T CATCH IT UNTIL IT WAS MASTERED. 

12. YOU ARE A HUGE GRAM PARSONS FAN AND A KEEPER OF THE FLAME. WHEN DID YOU FIRST HEAR HIM? WHEN DID YOU REALIZE THAT HE WAS GOING TO BE IMPORTANT TO YOU AND WHAT WAS IT THAT DREW YOU SO STRONGLY TO HIS MUSIC.

I'VE CHANGED A BIT ABOUT HIM RECENTLY TO BE HONEST. GRAM ALWAYS HAD IT TOO EASY AND IT SHOWS IN THE BODY OF WORK THAT WAS LEFT TO LISTEN TO.. I FIRST HEARD OF HIM WITH THE INTERNATIONAL SUBMARINE BAND. THEY WERE IN A MOVIE CALLED  " THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING "  HIS WRITING WITH CHRIS HILLMAN WAS BRILLIANT. THE BAND POCO WERE GREAT BUT THE BURRITOS TURNED THE ROCKERS ON TO REAL COUNTRY MUSIC. . WHILE A LOT OF FOLKS CONSIDER SWEET HEART TO BE THE FIRST BRIDGE BETWEEN COUNTRY AND ROCK, FOR ME IT'S THE INTERNATIONAL SUBMARINE BAND WITH THEIR ALBUM " SAFE AT HOME " GRAM  SINGING BRASS BUTTONS FROM THE SOLO ALBUMS AND THE OUT TAKE STUFF IS GREAT. YOU DO HAVE TO JUST LOVE HIM LIKE THE ROCK CROWD LOVED JOHNNY THUNDERS. GRAM WAS LIGHT YEARS AHEAD OF JOHNNY. GRAM HAD THE BALLS TO COVER " DO RIGHT WOMAN "  AND IT HOLDS UP TODAY WITH SNEEKY PETE'S  WONDERFUL PEDAL STEEL PARTS.

13. YOU RECENTLY TOURED SWEDEN WITH A GROUP. WHAT KIND OF MUSIC DID YOU PLAY AND HOW WAS IT RECEIVED?

I PLAYED ELECTRIC BASS FOR MY FRIEND DOUG SEEGERS. WE HAVE BEEN FRIENDS FOR A LONG TIME. I WAS EIGHTEEN, HE WAS SEVENTEEN. RECONNECTED WITH HIM WHEN HE WAS IN BAD SHAPE. IN  2010. HE CALLED A COUPLE YEARS LATER TO TELL ME HE STRAIGHTED UP AND HAS A NUMBER ONE RECORD IN SWEDEN. WE WERE BOTH GRAM FANS AND HAD OUR OWN BANDS IN THE PAST. A COUPLE OF YEARS INTO HIS FAME WE PLAYED MERLEFEST. THAT WAS TWO YEARS AGO, IN 2017 I DID A SUMMER TOUR AND A CHRISTMAS TOUR PLAYING IN CHURCHES, AMERICANA, BLUES AND GOSPEL,CHRISTMAS STANDARDS AS WELL. PLAYED THE AMERICANA FEST IN NASHVILLE AND THE FEST IN SCOTLAND ALSO. BUSKING IN SUBWAYS AND ON THE STREETS OF STOCKHOLM. OUTSIDE HELLSTONE MUSIC AND DRAWING A HUGE CROWD. DON'T KNOW WHY IT KEEPS GOING OUT OF BOLD PRINT BUT I'M CARRYING ON.

14. CAN YOU MENTION THREE TO FIVE  OF YOUR SONGS YOU CONSIDER YOUR BEST OR THAT YOU LIKE THE MOST? THE BALLAD OF BODEAN HARDIN, WALKING IN ST JAMES , DANCING REGINA, LONESOME TOWN, GONE FISHING, MISSY BROWN AND WEIGHT OF THE WORLD, THERE'S A FEW OTHERS TOO.

!5. YOU RESIDE OUTSIDE OF NASHVILLE.  YOU ARE DEFINATELY NOT PART OF  THE CURRENT TOP 40 COUNTRY SONGS CROWD ABOUT GIRLS IN SHORT SHORTS DRINKIN' COLD BEER ON THE HOOD OF YOUR TRACTOR WITH YOUR GUN BY YOUR SIDE, ETC. SO, WHAT SCENE DO YOU RELATE TO THERE? 

I'M STILL TRYING TO FIGURE THAT OUT. I KNOW I'M A SINGER SONGWRITER, RECORDING ARTIST. I MAKE WELL CRAFTED ALBUMS AND GIVE IT MY ALL TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITIES. I LIKE LIVING IN HENDERSONVILLE, TN. NASHVILLE IS BECOMING A BANG BANG SHOOT EM UP TOWN.  I'M NOT IN THE UPPER CRUST OF MUSICIANS IN EAST NASHVILLE, OR THE HIP AMERICANA STARS . THIS MIGHT THROW YOU BUT MY STUFF STANDS UP WITH JASON, THE AVETTS, STUGILL, MARGO AND LILLY HIATT. IN REALITY, YOU'RE ALLOWED TO GROW OLD IN THE BUSINESS AFTER YOU"VE HAD A SUCCESSFUL CAREER. ITS HARDER BEING OLDER AND TRYING TO BUILD A STRONG FOLLOWING. I KEEP PRAYING IT WILL HAPPEN. IF IT DOESN'T I'M STILL A WRITER OF SONGS, THAT'S WHAT I DO.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenny Owens ... Review from The Alternate Root

3/20/2018

 

 

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​Kenny Owens (from the album Colored by the Blue)
Soft strums match the easy time set by Kenny Owens as the Tennessee songman grabs a guitar and a pole, opening his latest release, Colored by the Blue, with “Gone Fishing”. The track marks the pace for Colored by the Blue with gentle rhythms while Kenny Owens offers his words and music as a healing balm as the album looks deep into a mirror, letting the gentle sway of rhythm transform the “Weight of the World” into a drop in the bucket as it makes use of horn blasts to ward off the rising water in “Fourteen Days of Rain”, sinks into self-pity as a message from the past stokes resolve in “The Small Stuff”, and follows a fiddle call into “Hours Before Dawn”.
With a nod to Gram Parsons, Kenny Owens dubs his music Cosmic American, letting the depth of his Roots dig down below the surface of the simple stories and the wealth of emotion the characters wear on full display. Classic Country backs Kenny Owens as he tips his musical hat to offer “Good Luck to You” and welcomes the sunshine feeling rising from being “Back in L.O.V.E. Again”. Colored by the Blue points to “Missy Brown” as it follows a traditional lifestyle down a rabbit hole of questionable choices and swallows a spoonful of bitter “Sugar” on a rock’n’roll rhythm as Kenny Owens closes out the album by singing his resume with “Troubadour Travelin’ Man”.

Look Both Ways CD Baby Review

J Philbrick   ****       Breathe of fresh air! Look Both Ways is a wonderful old-style country album with great arrangements of Owens' songs. Fine musicianship by the standard grouping of acoustic and electric guitars with bass, drums, keys and -best of all - great pedal steel in the Paul Franklin/Sneaky Pete tradition. Bebo is very tasty in his picking. Song topics are nicely varied, with no mention of loving his truck, or his gun, drinkin' with his boys, etc. As I said, very refreshing! His voice is unusual, but it conveys the meaning of the lyrics nicely. Closest resemblance is Rodney Crowell, and that ain't bad. There are lyrics, like Backburnin', and Look Both Ways that stick in my brain and I find myself singing them to myself. A good thing: i.e., they are catchy. This is a very good, feel good album by a pro.

7 Inches Vinyl Review

Friday, January 2, 2015 Kenny Owens "Trouble's Coming Round" on Astute Records Kenny Owens made his way to Hendersonville, TN by way of Brooklyn, NY and somewhere along the way picked up the blues, folk and country influences as a session bassist for a number of notable artists before striking out on his own with his second full length Look Both Ways at the end of 2014. A-Side's "Trouble's Coming Round" reminds me of a Sun Records rambling '60s Johnny Cash style country start where he was beginning to move away from the heavy reverb folk standards and into the darker stuff. Kenny has a natural vibrato in his vocal and the track lists the ways trouble is headed his way in a classic warning story narrative style like Waylon, Willie and Kris' pure american songwriting. Hendersonville, TN probably shares a lot in common with the country music capital and this has that collaborative session sound from a guy who's been around and knows exactly what he wants. A little like Vic Chestnut in high tempo swing with a pop rhythm section and an ironic take on a optimistic sounding track that should be anything but with all that trouble barreling down on him. B-Side's "On The Dole" is a different version than the one on the full length and opens with a steel guitar and Kenny's more somber side taking a conservative line with this character that feels entitled to sitting around on his butt and having everything come for free. Could be found playing at the 2016 republican convention if they have their way. Makes sense this would be a relaxed kicking back steel meandering tune existing just outside of town where days take forever, impromptu junkyard in the front yard and this guy can't even lift up his feet with a shuffle beat and measured acoustic chords. Goes as far as getting into his medical situation, his girlfriend, so there's not much redeeming about this guy. Makes for an entertaining track but is the narrator part of the 1%? Call me a communist but I don't have a problem with helping people out as I don't see many people asking for handouts in my parts.










Album  -  Walking in St. James
Label   -   Astute Records
Favorite Track   -   Ten Dollar Soul