In Edinburgh, two of the signs that Christmas is fast approaching are the sounds of Santa Claus approaching with his reindeer and his loud “ho ho hos” and the annual Dean Owens (who does not do ho ho hos) and The Whisky Hearts Christmas show at The Soundhouse at Traverse Theatre. This year as well as the usual good songs, music and banter, we also had the addition of guest vocalist Liz Jones.
Dean Owens and the Whisky Hearts’ Christmas show is always one to look forward to (and again a sell out), and the reason is not just the music…Dean Owens has a connection with his audience that few performers ever achieve, it is more like being invited into a good friend’s living room than going out to see a show. Dean and his audience like one another, simple as that. Also though, shining through everything always is the pleasure that Dean and the Whisky Hearts take from having the rare opportunity in their performance schedules to be together playing music.
Dean Owens has a new album out in February 2018 called “Southern Wind”, so it was appropriate that tonight’s set opened with the title track of this album “Southern Wind” and later in the set the current single from this album “The Last Song”. Written with country songwriter Will Kimbrough, this song is a tribute to their departed musical heroes and with the Whisky Hearts behind him tonight there was a little of the musical flavour of “The Faces” at the Soundhouse tonight. More details on the single and upcoming album are available from http://www.deanowens.com/
Many singer/songwriters probably dream of having a back catalogue like Dean Owens as there are some classics in there, and “Raining In Glasgow”, “Valentine’s Day In New York” and “The Night Johnny Cash Played San Quentin” were as usual huge crowd pleasers. Dean Owens is a writer who is never afraid to write about himself and his family (it is always a very brave writer who is prepared to make that public exposure), and two songs –“Dora” and “The Man From Leith” always have a very special place in Dean’s heart and the audience’s too.
Some people seem to associate the inherent misery of some of Dean’s songs with Dean himself, and I always find that odd as, yes, like many songwriters Dean finds a rich vein of emotions to write about from the darker side of life, but Dean Owens as a person I always find to have a wonderful dry sense of humour on stage and if ever he decides to walk away from music for a while then there is definitely a classic comedy duo in the shape of Dean Owens and Amy Geddes waiting in the wings to tour the circuit…the two of them just know and understand one another’s music and humour so well. This is part of the magic of this show, everyone on stage - Jim McDermott (drums), Brian McAlpine (keys and accordion), Amy Geddes (fiddle), Craig Ross (electric guitar) and Mike McCann (bass guitar) and Dean Owens are simply enjoying one another’s company and the company of their audience, and that goodwill feeling is so evident everywhere in the room at this show.
Once again a great show from Dean Owens and The Whisky Hearts closed with a musical tribute to another of Dean Owens’ favourites – Buck Owens. ”Uncle Buck” would be so proud.
A little final note too on guest vocalist Liz Jones – more information available at http://lizjonessings.co.uk/
Review by Tom King