Richie Owens and the Farm Bureau plays music full of hills and hollers, like their hometown Nashville. 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 makes his metal-bodied resonator guitar growl like a rottweiler stealing a bone from a pit bull. And that sound is all over Dia De Los Azules, the new album by Owens and his band the Farm Bureau. The recording is a stylistic rebirth for the trio, whose roots go back to the Nashville indie rock scene of the '80s, when drummer Brian O'Hanlon and Owens propelled The Movement and bassist John Reed cranked the heat in Raging Fire. The album is also part of a lifelong musical evolution for the colorful Owens, who earned the right to wear an Amish-style Stetson with a feather tucked in its band while learning to play bluegrass, country and old-time-y music as a kid growing up in the hills of East Tennessee.
Over the decades, Owens has mastered guitar, banjo, lap and pedal steel guitar, mandolin, round- and square-neck resonators and harmonica. Washburn Guitars currently sells two signature model resonators, a banjo and a mandolin bearing his name. He's developed a twangy, direct vocal style, too. It rings with the truth in his lyrics — whether he's telling real stories about floods, murders and early railroading cribbed from his father, grandfather and other forebears, as he did on the group's 2014 album, Tennessee, or spinning yarns with Reed and O'Hanlon that balance his love of roots music and pop hooks, like Dia De Los Azules' devoted mad-dash rocker "She Overruns My Heart" and "See You on the Other Side." The latter mashes up a hypnotic Junior Kimbrough blues vibe, old school boogie-woogie (courtesy of guest pianist Peter Keys) and pure Southern stomp. Another highlight is the silky grooved "Blame It on Being Free," a commentary on faith, confusion and liberty that starts with needlepoint guitar notes and cruises through its choruses on grinding slide resonator chords.
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.
Over the past three years we have been developing our sound by playing as many live gigs as possible to a very diverse audience," explains Owens, who has led the group through roots festivals, hillbilly jams, juke joints, hipster rock clubs and honky-tonks in the past two years. "Those experiences influenced the music, feel and soul of our new album Dia De Los Azules."
Collectively, they forge their own groove, You can call it full circle, or whatever you like. For Richie Owens and the Farm Bureau, it’s genuine home cookin...
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.