by Calum Macleod
IF he had followed his original career path, Shropshire singer-songwriter Dan Owen would be making guitars for a living rather than playing them.
But when an eye injury meant he could no longer do the fine work his job required, he devoted his energies to performing.
Now the 23-year old has gone from playing to tiny audiences in backrooms of pubs to a run of impressive festivals dates, including Bushstock, The Great Escape and Glastonbury and was handpicked by the critically-acclaimed Rae Morris as support for her recent autumn tour.
“I have always played guitar,” Owen said.
“I started when I was nine, then when I was 13 I started playing round the pubs and clubs in the West Midlands with my sister, she’s the singer in the family. We’d be out most nights of the week, just doing music.
“I left school at 16 with the aim of making guitars. I got a place with a guy called Patrick Eggle who makes amazing £4000 guitars, and I was well happy with that, but in the couple of months I had the eye accident. That was a bit of a hard time.”
Although he had always performed, Owen had never considered making a career of music, but with guitar making no longer an option, he started searching out pubs and other venues where he could play.
“From the age of 17, I was doing 150 to 200 gigs a year, playing at every opportunity,” he said.
It was at one of these shows that an audience member filmed his live cover of Bob Dylan’s Ballad Of Hollis Brown, which is now sitting on 500,000 views on YouTube.
Following those early live shows, he went on to win Best Young Artist at the British Blues Awards.
“The blues seemed right for what I was doing,” Owen explained.
“I was taught blues when I first started guitar at nine, and I started off playing a load of blues covers. Now I play my own songs. I’m definitely still influenced by the blues, but it’s not blues as I would call it.
“In the last couple of years I’ve been doing a lot of writing or co-writing sessions and now I’ve got something like 70 songs.”
Some of these will be heard on his debut EP later this year, which is produced by George Ezra and Florence and The Machine producer Cam Blackwood.
However, Owen has already had the seal of approval from a rock giant in Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac.
Fleetwood was among the half million who saw Owen’s YouTube performance, but unlike most of them, made contact with the young singer.
“He came round and I played him some songs, then we went out for dinner and he told me some stories,” Owen revealed.
“When he first got in touch, I thought: It can’t be him. I’ve got an uncle who’s called Mick Fleetwood as well and at first the two things didn’t go together - Mick Fleetwood and Fleetwood Mac — but it’s pretty cool. We didn’t stay in touch that long, but he was good to bounce a few ideas off.”
• Catch Dan Owen on tour in the UK at the following venues: Friday 23rd October, Drouthy Cobbler, Elgin: Saturday 24th, Woodlands Centre, Stornoway; Sunday25th, The Arch Inn, Ullapool.