Phil Gillam: Why Dan's the man
He might be a 25-year-old white guy from Shrewsbury but he has the voice of one of those wonderful old blues singers from the Mississippi Delta.
We’re talking about the extraordinary talent that is Dan Owen, a singer-songwriter who has become a YouTube sensation, a spellbinding young performer with a disarmingly humble way about him.
Once asked how he manages to play guitar, harmonica and stomp box all at the same time, Dan replied: “I don’t know – the stomp box came from just trying to be louder than everyone else in the pub, and I happened to have a foot free!”
With his deep, soulful, blues-infused tones, Dan will be performing back in his home town when he plays Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn on April 11 at what will be the Mayor’s Charity Concert in support of Shropshire Recovery Partnership, supporting adults and young people with drug and alcohol issues.
This sounds to me like a must-see gig.
Oh, and if you want a little taste of what Dan does, check out some of his incredible performances on YouTube – songs like Hideaway and his rendition of Little Red Rooster.
As someone who, like me, has a great passion for Shrewsbury, I asked Dan, a former Meole Brace schoolboy, to tell me about how he feels about the old town.
“Yeah, I’ve lived in Shrewsbury all my life, and my family has been here for a couple of hundred years. Grandad played for Shrewsbury Town Football Club and my great-grandad was stone mason on the train station so we are pretty deeply embedded in this town! I was born in Shrewsbury hospital and grew up on the edge of Gains Park and spent most my time in the fields getting chased by farmers, making fires and building dens!
"There really is something unique about being from this town. Every time I come back home from a tour, as soon as I start seeing the Shrewsbury signs on the motorway, things start to feel like home. Also knowing my family has been in this town so long and seeing the pictures of them being in the town and walking the same streets 50 years ago gives some very strong roots.”
Dan has gone from playing small pubs and clubs to a solo headline tour last year and one of his songs, Made To Love You, being streamed 10 million times on Spotify. His recordings are also available through Apple Music. Meanwhile, The Independent has described him as “electrifying”.
I asked him: So when did you first start making your own music?
"I first started going out and playing open mics when I was 13. Me and my sister would be out at the Bridges, playing every Monday sometimes until the early hours. I ended up getting a few notes home from school asking why I was so tired which was a little hard to explain! The older musicians out around town were some of my biggest influences.”
Tell me a little about your family.
Growing up, my mum was a hair dresser and dad was a painter decorator and at the weekends he worked on a farm which I used to go and help out on in the early hours of Sunday morning. We are a really tight family.”
So what are your ambitions now?
my ambitions are to keep growing as a musician. I've been lucky enough to play to audiences all around the world so more of that would be great. I'm also very keen to support my home town when I can. I feel like Shrewsbury has given me a lot of support over the years!”
Dan says he’s greatly looking forward to the Theatre Severn gig, and Mayor of Shrewsbury Jane Mackenzie said: "I'm thrilled that Dan has chosen to support my charity, helping people living in Shrewsbury to recover and turn their lives around. We are all immensely proud of Dan, and I'm delighted that Theatre Severn is supporting us to showcase his incredible talent in this way."