“A guitar/mandolin/banjo player rivaled in character only by the occasional three-pronged carrot”
— Vogue Magazine, 2009
Owen has performed and recorded with many of traditional music’s top performers including Aoife Clancy, Liz Carroll, Darol Anger, John Doyle, Andrea Beaton, Jerry Holland, Ari & Mia Friedman, his own traditional Irish trio “The Press Gang” and the acoustic trio “Haas, Walsh and Marshall”. His music has appeared on NPR’s “Thistle and Shamrock,” BBC television, and the back of his left elbow has appeared on MTV. In addition to being a respected performer, Owen is in demand at music camps throughout New England and the U.S., where he shares his approach to accompanying traditional music.
With the music traditions of Quebec and Nova Scotia over the Vermont border and my exposure to traditional Irish music from fiddler Sarah Blair, I was immersed in the various textures and sounds of the Celtic music spectrum. In addition to the local music I heard as a child, my mother exposed me to a wide variety of music including Jazz, Western Swing, Bluegrass, Classical, Scandinavian fiddle music, Eastern European Gypsy music and traditional Tuvan music.
Most of my early youth was spent learning and playing music with my sister Elly Marshall. Together we preformed around the state of Vermont playing small dances and local concert series. Learning, collaborating and challenging each other was a crucial time in my musical development and is a relationship that continues to inspire me. As time went on my sister and I found ourselves consistently drawn to Irish traditional music. As I listened and played more traditional music, I expanded my playing beyond the guitar to other instruments including the tenor banjo, bouzouki and harmonium.
My influences include traditional Irish musicians Sarah Blair, Arty Mcglynn, Grey Larsen, Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, John Doyle, Dáithí Sproule, Eamonn Coyne, Alec Finn and musicians in other genres such as Yann Falquet, André Marchand, Karen Tweed, Ian Carr, David Surette, Dan Crary, Norman Blake, Russ Barenburg, Keith Murphy, Jeremiah McLane, Richard Thompson, Roger Tallroth, Nic Jones, Gilles Le Bigot, and Morten Høirup to name a few.
Being primarily an accompanist, I have gained a lot of respect for traditional music and I have learned to be comfortable crossing genres. Be it an Irish slip jig, a Québécois brandy, an Appalachian tune or a Cape Breton strathspey, I try to blend my own sound and approach with the sensibilities of each tradition. I enjoy the challenges of learning different tunes, collaborating with new musicians and identifying the common threads that run though the music of northern Europe and North America.