He was originally labelled as a blues prodigy thanks to his incredible covers, but Dan Owen has been making a name for himself with his own music.
He spoke with The Guide on the phone from Vienna, where he was playing on tour.
Given the moniker of Blues Boy Dan back in his hometown of Shrewsbury, he’s found the old tag a little hard to shift.
‘That was years ago now, but nobody forgets it! That was when I was playing around pubs and things like that. I was doing lots of blues covers and the guy who ran the open mic night I used to go to called me Blues Boy Dan and it kind of stuck.’
‘I’m a massive blues fan, but when I started writing my own songs I listened to so many other types of music that the songs weren’t blues, so it felt wrong to keep calling myself that. I dropped the “blues” part, and then I wouldn’t have to worry about whether a song was “bluesy” enough.’
Was he worried about upsetting the purists?
A lot of the artists I love were signed to Atlantic, so to be part of that is amazingDan Owen
‘I call them the blues police,’ he laughs. ‘It’s a strange world, the blues world. Everyone thinks they’re more bluesy then the next person and I didn’t want to get caught up in that – when someone says about one of my songs ‘‘that’s not the blues’’, I’m like, yeah, I know!’
Since then he’s managed to have a video of him playing a cover of Bob Dylan’s The Ballad of Hollis Brown go viral (‘it wasn’t a lot of views compared to Ed Sheeran or anything, but for where I was, it was pretty crazy’) attracting the attention of Mick Fleetwood of rock titans Fleetwood Mac.
‘He sent me a message and at first it didn’t even register as THE Mick Fleetwood, and then I did a gig in London and he came along. I played him some songs in the middle of the day in a club called The Borderline, we went out and had some dinner in Soho and he was telling me all these stories about life on the road, it was crazy. That fuelled my wanting to get out and gig even more, and obviously it’s helped Mick Fleetwood saying nice things about me.’
He subsequently signed to Atlantic Records, which put out his recent Open Hands and Enemies EP.
‘I don’t know how these things happen. The gigs were picking up a little bit, and labels started coming to shows. They must have liked it, a couple of labels had come up from London to Shrewsbury to watch me, which was weird – having these big label guys in my little town, Then I started getting offers.
‘Atlantic were the ones who didn’t say: “you’re going to be on Radio 1 tomorrow and this will happen, and there’ll be all this money”, they just felt really honest.
‘They said we will make it happen, but it may take a couple of years, and we’ll do it properly.
‘And a lot of the artists I love were signed to Atlantic, so to be part of that is amazing.’
The Social Club, Southampton
Monday, April 24