Musician presents ‘anti-radio’ CD ‘Rum of Faith’

January 19, 2010

By David Hayes

Jeremy Owen strips down to just his voice and his guitar in his new CD, ‘Rum of Faith.’ Julianne Masters

Jeremy Owen has worked hard to train his voice to be his best instrument. If, instead, he’d allowed his career track to be influenced by his failures, he might not be releasing his fourth CD, let alone his first.

“I have been humiliated off more stages on open mic nights than I can count,” said the Issaquah resident. “And each time, I said I’d never do that again. Then, one day, no one was complaining.”

Having performed for just about every type of audience, Owen said his latest CD, “Rum of Faith,” marks a return to the music best enjoyed by a smaller, more intimate audience. That’s why he chose to debut it at Vino Bella, with its intimate café setting.

While “Rum of Faith” is a return to an all-acoustic set, Owen described his music that can be tweaked to be enjoyed by any crowd, from heavy metal to country.Owen, who’ll be 40 in March, is at a stage in his career where he’s no longer the starving musician. His job in audio/video installation and maintenance for high-end homes keeps him gainfully employed.

“I like to call myself a glorified VCR installer,” he deadpanned.

Plus, with no regrets in having missed the whole “American Idol” craze, Owen’s also not looking for that big break or discovery by a big record mogul.

“A, that never happens. B, it’s already happened to me. And C, once you’re not desperate to put out material, you can concentrate on producing the music you like,” he said.

About that “already happened” part — Owen said that in 1996, while playing guitar at a bar in Edmonds, he met a millionaire. As the story goes, the man so enjoyed the type of music Owen was playing, he told Owen to call him the following Monday and he’d help pay to produce his music.

Thinking it was a lark, Owen said he called anyway. The man did indeed give him $15,000 to produce music. Not many months later, he died of cancer, but left a lasting impression on Owen.

“It was one of the neatest things in my life,” he said.

Having inherited the music bug from his father, Owen has performed solo and in bands, with his younger brother at times, before returning to his latest project. (He’s also working on a blues album and a country album.) Helping him produce his side projects is his wife, Juli.

“I had a steadfast rule while performing to never date the groupies,” he said. “Of course, the one time I break that rule, I married her.”

Juli, an employee of The Boeing Co., produced “Rum of Faith.”

“She’s more supportive of my music than I am,” he said. “She likes to see me get on the stage and play.”

The title of the album comes from the time he was visiting a college and his friend Pat was performing a song Owen really enjoyed. When he asked more about the song, “Rum of Faith,” at first Pat didn’t know which song he was inquiring about. Then, it dawned on him — he meant “Realm of Faith.”

“I said good, and went home and wrote my song,” he recalled.

Regardless which genre of music audience he’s performing for, Owen said he likes to carry forward one song from each previous album to keep a level of continuity from one to the next. For “Rum of Faith,” that song is “7 Seas Cowboys,” a tune dedicated to his older brother who was a member of a fishing crew whose vessel sank in the Bering Sea. Although he’d helped save lives, the incident left him wheelchair bound and he passed away five years later.

“Rum of Faith” is a raw album, where Owen wears his emotions on his sleeve for all to hear. He calls it his “anti-radio” CD, free of the overused pitch correction used on many other overproduced albums.

“I can’t stand that,” he said. “It’s cheating. Les Paul once basically said if you can entertain a room full of people with just you and your guitar, then you’re doing something right.”

If you go

Jeremy Owen CD release party

6-9 p.m. Jan. 28

Vino Bella, 99 Front St. N.

‘Rum of Faith’ is available at www.jtowen.com.

David Hayes: dhayes@isspress.com, 392-6434, ext. 237. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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