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Howard Owens

DIY

For me, music was born in 1977. That's the year I discovered The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello, the Talking Heads, the Ramones and Blondie. I was also turned on to the proto-punks like the New York Dolls and Iggy Pop.

I loved the energy of punk. It was a long way from "You Light Up My Life" and "Come Sail Away." The music was raw, and it was about people like me -- teen-agers with a little bit of anger, a sense of alienation and a bit of idealism. Best of all -- it was music you didn't need a master's degree to play. The ethic was DIY -- Do It Yourself. All you needed was a red guitar, three chords and the truth.

My punk career didn't go far -- one band and only two gigs, but the ethic has stayed with me. The music that still appeals to me the most is music that is simple, pure, sweet and honest. I love the blues, folk (and I don't mean the pansy stuff made by Peter, Paul and Merry and Pete Seeger), basic rock and roll, but especially the original punk: Rockabilly.

As I've gotten older -- I'm now 42 -- my tastes have expanded. I love the adult pop of the 40s, 50s, and 60s (Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Louis Prima, Dean Martin, Nelson Riddle, exotica), and I've even learned to like much of the music we punks once scorned -- Led Zep, the Bee Gees and Neil Young have all grown on me over the years, but I still cling to the DIY ethic, and believe that the best music is made when it is a matter of life-or-death self expression, not a ticket to Neverland or the Playboy Mansion.

Today

I own two guitars. You can find my reviews for these great instruments in the Resources section. My electric is a Guild Starfire III. My acoustic is a Simon & Patrick S&P 6 Cedar.

I'm building a small home studio.

Most of my playing and practice serves a single goal: songwriting. And that is also the purpose of almost all of the music listening I do these days -- disecting songs, learning how songs work, studying the masters both old and new, and from a wide variety of genres.

I think there are some good songs in me somewhere and I'm on a mission to find them.

You can find some of my current MP3s on my personal web site/blog at HowardOwens.com. If you visit, you'll find I'm a person of numerous interests and opinions, mostly of the conservative nature. Like Joe Strummer, I've drifted more to the right as I've gotten older.

Musical Influences

  • Johnny Cash
  • Elvis Costello
  • Dave Alvin

Favorite Recordings

  • Johnny Cash, the American Recordings series
  • The Anthology of Folk Music, ed. by Harry Smith
  • Dave Alvin, Public Domain