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Richie Owens and the Farm Bureau - Tennessee

Posted on the 28 December 2013 by Ripplemusic
Richie Owens and the Farm Bureau - Tennessee How I came to Richie Owens and the Farm Bureau's Tennessee is more convoluted than the Mason-Dixon line. Through a friend, Steve Sage, a dynamic guitarist, educator trained at the Musicians Institute and music performance professor at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, CA, I received a student recording.  Steve thought the student's song had potential and brought the track to my attention.  It was nice enough overall, but, I thought the mandolin player was extraordinary.  I asked Steve about the mandolin and he told me it was played by a friend of his, Richie Owens, and he introduced me to him via facebook.  Thereafter, I met Owens in person at NAMM and heard him play.

Owens is a unique musician. He is homespun, edgy and entrepreneurial, with a deep sense of place, and an apparent love of Americana, roots music and American History.  His music store in Nashville, TN, "The Old Time Pickin' Parlor," is located in the same former Marathon Car factory that houses "Antique Archeology," a store of picked items by TV's American Pickers.  The Parlor is primarily dedicated to acoustic roots instruments, such as guitars, mandolins, banjos and dobros.  It also holds weekly jams.

The state of Tennessee is Richie's home.  It is where he was born, cut his teeth in the music industry as a performer and worked on product development for Gibson's lines of dobro and resonator guitars.  With the recent release of the album, Tennessee, it is apparent that Owens knows his home state, appreciates its people and history, that it is there that he truly wants to be, and that he is a hell of a songwriter.

Richie Owens and the Farm Bureau are as roots Americana as Americana can get.  Guitars, mandolins, dobros . . . this is traditional country blues, folk and bluegrass modernized into a truly Americana roots music.  It has echoes of the Cumberland Gap, the melancholy attendant the Civil War, rural industry and wild country backwoods moonshine parties.

The tracks on the album are mostly originals written by Richie with about half noting a co-writer, Albert Styles. Each song explores an aspect of one of the things Tennessee-born Owens knows best - Tennessee.
Richie explains how the album came about:

I have been writing songs about where I’m from all my life but never thought to put them together or write towards an album of songs about the place I live and was born. That is until after the Nashville flood happen [sic], the house I lived in was damaged by the flood and my family was forced to find another place to live. We were fortunate enough to find a place still in the city to rent that was close to all we like to do, it was a little stone cottage on a hill called Love Circle which overlooks Vanderbilt University and the city of Nashville, and as the landlord gave us the keys she said to me, well you know someone tied to the Grand Ole Opry used to own this place and live here, of course I wanted to know and she said do you know who George D. Hay was? Absolutely!! That’s the Solemn Old Judge, as he was known, the guy who named the Grand Old Opry as well as named most of the acts that played it when it first started. So the place already had a great vibe to it and I was already in the middle of moving my recording studio from the location it was at, I immediately set up to record and with all the history in this place and having recently reopened The Old Time Pickin’ Parlor in the old Marathon Car factory it really hit I should finally get it out of my system and make an album of songs about Tennessee. I started these recordings there in the Solemn Old Judge’s house and eventually moved the recording gear to The Old Time Pickin’ Parlor and finished them up there. This was the type of recordings it never occurred to me to do until a lot of these events happen as they did but it became a labor of love and am so happy me and the guys did it, for I feel blessed to have been raised in a family [of] story tellers and to be born and part of the great state of Tennessee.  

As I listened to Tennessee I was transported to the events described in the songs.  The music is reminiscent of The Band, Bob Dylan and the Flying Burrito Brothers, but, with a harsher tone and an occasional tinge of bluegrass.  Listen closely and you can also make out the influences of country legends such as Roy Acuff, Chet Atkins, Sleepy John Estes, Homer and Jethro, and Flatt and Scruggs.

Get us some good old Tennessee moonshine, put this album on and join me in the Volunteer State thanks to Richie Owens and the Farm Bureau.

 - Old School


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