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Perhaps you’ve heard some hip whippersnapper say “No one’s from Nashville.” It could be forgiven—Music City is a mecca. The city beckons, and then assimilates. Look past your server’s apron, your deliveryman’s clipboard, your drycleaner’s notepad. There’s a dreamer. Maybe he sings. Maybe she picks. Chances are, he or she hops on a plane to go back home for the holidays.
See, one must be careful, because some folks are “from Nashville.” Richie Owens and the Farm Bureau are. They’ve been working in their town for more years than that hip whippersnapper’s been able to buy a PBR. Richie, John and Brian cut their musical teeth in Nashville, sweating it out on the stages of local clubs and concert halls years before the place became an Americana hotspot.
Richie Owens and the Farm Bureau plays music full of hills and hollers, like their hometown. Tennessee Rock ’n’ Roll Rhythm and Blues. It’s swampy, and dirty, and chugs along like a Southern locomotive gone rogue.
The band has been nominated 2014 Best Live Blues Performance for the Nashville Independent Music Awards. They played the 2013 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, and are out on the road each month, delivering their unique brand of whisky-infused, swampy blues to crowds appreciative of the band’s authenticity.
Richie Owens grew up in the business, running through the Grand Ole Opry as a kid, buying hotdogs for Merle Haggard and working as a young instrumental artisan at Sho-bud Guitar Factory. His band in the ’80s, the Movement, included a storied percussionist named Brian O’Hanlon. They shared gigs, and lots of college radio airplay, with Raging Fire, a quartet whose low end was anchored by hotshot bassist John Reed. Back then, Nashville only had one punk club, two mid-sized concert halls, and everyone gathered at the Gold Rush on weekends, with plenty of room to spare.
In 2012, Richie, Brian, and John came together again as Richie Owens and the Farm Bureau. Full circle—and to everyone’s pleasure, it clicked immediately. John credits the three members’ “commonality of experience” for their onstage cohesion—“knowing what has come before us.” Richie appreciates the focus found in a three-piece band. “Magic and synergy. The three of us play together like a well-oiled machine.” Brian calls the music “the root of blues and soul.”
Individually, the members of the Farm Bureau have played with Dolly Parton, Leon Russell, Joe and Rose Maphis, Townes Van Zant, Jimmy Tittle, Johnny Cash, Cindy Cash, Robert Earl Keen, Jim Varney, and members of The Meters, George Porter and Zigaboo Modaliste.
Collectively, they forge their own groove, on a full-length release comprised of songs about Tennessee, simply called "Tennessee."
You can call it full circle, or whatever you like. For Richie Owens and the Farm Bureau, it’s genuine home cookin’—kinda like that turkey they carve in their own homes each year at Thanksgiving.
Richie Owens and the Farm Bureau can be found on facebook and reverbnation. The band can be heard on iheart radio and Sirius radio’s “Outlaw Country,” among others.