Boston singer/songwriter Almost Owen is making waves this summer with a new video and plenty of shows. His fun and funky sound is perfect for the poolside playlist! We were lucky enough to catch up with him for an interview.
TCE: What is the story behind the name 'Almost Owen'?
AO: I used to release music under my *actual* name. When I went to book shows with my band, my good friend and longtime collaborator (who will remain nameless) would excitedly post about it on social media. Sadly, he would more often than not horribly misspell my name. I started to think that if my closest friends were having trouble, I'd be doomed when it came to people who didn't know me.
Instead of trying to fight an uphill battle, I decided to go with the name my parents almost gave me, which was Owen.
There's also another story behind the name - perhaps for the next interview.
TCE: Can you tell me a bit about your time in India, and do you think it has had an effect on your musical tastes and personal sound?
AO: I loved living there. I lived in two different parts of South Delhi, and spent my time teaching music and exploring. I toured with an awesome sufi rock outfit called Adi and Suhail, started my own group, and played shows and festivals across the country.
India has a number of very old and rich musical traditions. Many of my friends there were very wrapped up in fusing elements of folk music with more modern sounds and technology. Pretty amazing stuff and innovative stuff all around the arts in fact. I would urge anyone thinking about spending some time there to go.
TCE: Boston is a big bar town; What are your favorite late night spots to grab a drink and catch some music?
AO: Wallys Jazz Cafe in the South End was the first bar I ever went to. I think I was like 12 years old. I have a long standing love affair with that place.
Other places I like a great deal - rated from rowdy to tame: Capo, Great Scott, The Lizard Lounge,
I play Wednesday nights at Luckys Lounge in Southie, as well as Fridays and Saturdays at Ocean Prime in the Seaport.
Full show schedules are available on my website almostowenmusic.com
TCE: What has been the most exciting moment in your musical career?
AO: The most memorable stories tend to also be the most bizarre.
This may come as a surprise, but I grew up a complete jazz head - totally in love with the Art Blakey Jazz Messengers. A couple years ago I played concert tribute to Benny Golson at the Kimmel center in Philidelphia. Golson was my favorite writer and arranger from the Messengers, so this was a BIG DEAL for me.
I had also been acutely sick and in the hospital till 6 AM that morning. Everything seemed to be going wrong. Amazingly, when I got on stage, adrenaline took over. The show couldn't have gone better. I got to hang out with Mr. Golson afterwards too and rap with him about road stories. I will always remember that day for its surreal highs and lows.
TCE: What songs break your heart?
AO: Simple Twist of Fate by Bob Dylan kills me. Every. Time.
TCE: Can you tell me a little about your new music video?
AO: Yes! I'll be releasing the second of two videos I filmed at Converse Rubber Tracks. I'm playing a song of mine called "Tell Me What You Want" - and it features some of the best musicians and singers I've had the pleasure of working with. It's very colorful and fun.
The first video is up right now on my Facebook page + website right now as well:
TCE: If you could tour with anyone, who would it be?
AO: That's tough to say - right now I'm thinking Phoenix.
Wait no - Anderson. Paak! I have so much respect for that dude.
TCE: What is your funniest on stage moment?
AO: This past Halloween I played a huge party in Portsmouth, NH. I showed up in a full on Prince outfit, complete with purple overcoat, frills and corresponding eyeliner.
My band, on the other hand, thought it would be funny to not wear costumes at all, showing up in grey sweatpants and sweatshirts. The contrast was - interesting...
I'm playing a costume themed July 4th party at City Tap House in the Seaport this year. I refuse to let last Halloween ruin me - I am going all out.
TCE: In videos, I see you behind a kit, and swinging a guitar. What's your instrument of choice?
AO: I'm a singer and songwriter first. After that, drumset is the most natural for me.
TCE: Your hair is incredible; who's vision is the cut? Do you have a stylist in Boston?
AO: Haha thank you. Not really sure if there was any sort of vision involved in it. About a year ago I decided I wanted to grow it out to see if it would develop a personality of its own. I've always had a ritual of getting my hair cut whenever I travel to a different city. This has occasionally produced disastrous results.
All that being said, I could sure use a stylist with some vision - got any ideas?
TCE: You have been touring like crazy. What is your most anticipated show coming up?
AO: I'll be playing a show at Lawn on D July 15 which will be awesome. I'm also ironing out details for a Northeast tour Aug 13-20 so stay tuned for that!