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A Conversation With David Owen


By Ken Wallis.



David Owen is well known for his guitar expertise and his wailing harmonica blowing. As a performer he captures your attention, but, there’s a lot more to David than meets the eye. He’s a craftsman at writing and composing, and he tackles a most difficult time in his latest release, Oh Suzana Blues.

Ken Wallis interviewed David Owen for the radio show BluesSource Canada. The following are edited excerpts from that interview.




Ken Wallis

David Owen has a new album out, it is called Oh Suzana Blues, and to tell us all about it, David Owen is joining us. David thanks for coming on the show.


David Owen

Well thanks for having me Ken.


Ken Wallis

For listeners that haven't heard much from your new album, can you describe your sound ?


David Owen

I would have to say it's Americana and focusing on African Americana. My roots are really in the blues. I was a delta blues player for a long time in the vein of John Hammond but when I started writing songs I kind of branched out from there. I think the best label for it would be Americana.


Ken Wallis

And there are a couple of songs that really have a background story to them. Particularly Oh Suzana Blues, and Stella Marie. Can you tell us all about that ?


David Owen

Well Stella Marie and the title track Oh Susanna are about my relationship with my wife who's passed away. It’s telling the story of our relationship and how it fell apart. Stella Marie is about her death, the horrible boating accident that took her from us.


Ken Wallis

That must have been quite a struggle for you to write those tunes.

David Owen

It was very difficult. Stella Marie came to me somewhat quickly, except for the chorus or the bridge. It came to me in the middle of the night, and I jumped up in the bed and said I got it. Oh Suzana Blues, I actually started before she passed away and finished it during the pandemic while I had some time to really contemplate everything that had happened, and everything that was going on. I was left with three children to take care of, and to raise, so it left me with a big plate.

Ken Wallis

This album is produced by a name I certainly recognize, and most people recognize. Colin Linden.


David Owen

Yes, it was. I had the great pleasure of going down to Nashville and recording with Colin. I've known Colin for quite a while and so it was wonderful that he opened up his schedule so we were able to do this project together.


Ken Wallis

And apparently you have a very unique connection to a Bob Dylan tune. I think it's a great story.


David Owen

That was when I was a teenager. I was trying to figure out what my path was going to be in life. I really loved music. Of course, my parents were pushing me to go to college and everything. I was coming home in Ottawa from listening to some live music and I had to hitchhike because in Ottawa the buses shut down at midnight. It was after midnight, and I was considering what am I going to do with my life ? I really want to be a musician and I stuck my thumb out and a guy picked me up, and as I got into the car, Bob Dylan's song was playing, Like A Rolling Stone, and that told me right there that yes, that's what I want to be. I want to be a rolling stone.


Ken Wallis

Good thing you did because we are enjoying your music. Do you feel this album is quite different from previous albums ?


David Owen

It is a little bit different. I think my writing and my rhyming is a little more honed. My past album was along the same lines, but it focused more on having other people on it. I had Jimmy Bowskill working with me. This one Colin wanted it to be about me, so I don't have anybody else really doing solos on it. I feel I’ve come a long way as a songwriter. I'm really proud of this album, and I worked hard on it. I'm really am happy to be able to share it with everybody.


Ken Wallis

You play guitar and harmonica. Which one came first ?


David Owen

The guitar. I didn't start playing harmonica until I saw John Hammond. I saw him, it would have been ‘79 or ‘80 at a blues festival in Ottawa and right away I said, that's what I want to do. I’d been playing guitar for several years and I played in my church choir. It wasn't until seeing John Hammond that I picked up the harmonica and tortured everybody for a little while with it and it paid off.


Ken Wallis

There's a great quote from you. ” I learned to sing the blues as a baby crying for milk”. I just think that really is quite descriptive.


David Owen

Thank you very much. I actually stole that from my uncle Basil. I revised it a little bit. He used to say I lost my voice as a baby crying for milk.


Ken Wallis

Again, it is David Owen, the album is Oh Susanna. Where can fans pick up and purchase your album ?


David Owen

It's available on iTunes and it's also available off my website. If you want to get a cd my website is DavidOwen.ca and it will be available off the stage when I start performing again.


Ken Wallis

And speaking of that, any plans for the summer and touring ?


David Owen

I’m hoping so. I've been a little cautious with the whole Covid thing. I actually had Covid a couple weeks ago so I’m still kind of recovering from it. I have a few irons in the stove and I will be announcing them hopefully in the near future.


Ken Wallis

Well hopefully you get out this way because I’d love to come and see you perform. It's been great chatting with you David. Thanks so much for your time.


David Owen

Well thank you Ken. I've really enjoyed this, and we will hopefully see you on the road somewhere.




Recorded in Nashville, David Owen’s latest and best yet recording, Oh Suzana Blues, 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. (“This is a well-done, good-sounding and tasteful alum,” commented one industry insider, Bruce Iglauer, proprietor of Alligator Records.).


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.




Website: www.davidowen.ca

Facebook: www.facebook.com/davidowenmusician

Spotify: open.spotify.com/artist