Dean Owens & The Southerners at The Traverse Theatre this evening adds another successful end of year, and end of a decade this time, show to what has become a bit of a musical Christmas tradition for many people. This event, promoted as usual by The Soundhouse Organisation, is always a sold out show for Dean and whatever line-up he is performing with and, as always, the warm, friendly, and jovial atmosphere brings out the best in both Dean and his audience.
This year Dean has a new touring band with him, The Southerners, and the award winning talents of Tom Collison on keys and bass guitar and Jim Maving on guitar, delta slide and mandolin are adding layers to Dean’s music that I have not heard before. Perhaps with this combination of talents, Dean has finally found the missing pieces to the musical jigsaw that he has been so carefully creating over the past few years. A big part of that picture already though is the fiddle and vocal talents of long time musical collaborator, Amy Geddes. As always, a pleasure to see and hear Dean and Amy on stage together as the two have a musical and at times comedic relationship that can only come about when two long-time friends know each so instinctively.
This has been a big year for Dean Owens, and winning the high profile UK Song of the Year Award from Americana Music Association UK has to be one of Dean’s 2019 high points. The winning song for that award, “Southern Wind” was of course in tonight’s set list and sounding so good with The Southerners’ input on it.
Few songwriters out there at the moment have a back catalogue to match that of Dean Owens and although it is always good to hear older songs such as “The Man From Leith”, “It’s Raining in Glasgow” and “The Night Johnny Cash Played San Quentin”, it is also good to hear newer material from the Southern Wind album and Buffalo Blood project.
Whether an old song, or a new song like “The Last Song”, the one thing that never changes is Dean Owens’ charm and gentle humour that puts his audience immediately at ease and always gives that feeling that you have been invited in to his own personal space to hear his music.
What next for Dean Owens then? Well, the March 2020 launch of “The Best Of “ album appropriately titled “The Man From Leith” is probably already on many of his fans’ “buy lists”, and Dean Owens & The Southerners as a band have the musical ability to go in any direction that they want to with new songs.
In Dean’s own words, “There’s more to life than enjoying yourself”, and to prove that you can now buy the mug (and probably the T-Shirt soon too). For a few hours at least though you can go to any Dean Owens show, and like this one “just enjoy yourself” and forget about the rest of life’s problems for a little while.
Review by Tom King