Owen Plant
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Owen Plant


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"Hey There: Owen Plant"

Thursday January 9, 2003
Page 13
By John Black

Ex-frontman for ‘Shake Senora’ is enjoying a career as a solo singer/guitarist

After three years fronting the popular Boston dance band, Shake Senora, singer/guitarist Owen Plant is finding success as a solo performer with an appealing mix of acoustic pop and danceable Caribbean influenced tunes. He’s released one self-titled solo CD and plans to record his second in the spring. He plays Club Passim this Sunday night.

When did you first start writing songs?
I didn’t start writing my own stuff until 1995, but I’ve been playing music since I was 15, mainly piano and voice.

You have a unique sound. How would you describe it?
It’s a real blend. I was born and grew up in Jamaica, so there is definitely a cultural influence in what I do. People think Jamaican music is easy to play because it’s based on a simple structure, but it’s very difficult to play in the right way. I also grew up in a household where Neil Diamond, James Taylor and Cat Stevens were played, too. My parents listened to a lot of American music and it had a huge influence on me.

Was it difficult to blend the different styles to come up with your own sound?
No. It was quite natural. I’d get a sound in my head and find a way for it to come out in a song. Once I started writing, the only hard thing was for me to stop. The ideas were flowing through me. I didn’t even play covers un concert until about three years ago.

How did coming to Boston from Jamaica change your sound?
The biggest change was hooking up with a guy named Fez Aswat and forming a band called Shake Senora. That introduced me to a lot of different musical styles like funk and pop.

That band lasted for about three years. What happened?
It was just time to do other things. We tried to write a lot of things as a band, and I realized I really wanted to be on my own, write my own music and perform it the way I heard it in my head. Tak Tanaka, who is a fabulous guitar player, was in Shake Senora, and I still play with him. These days I have two projects: I play solo acoustic shows and I play with a 4-piece band called Owen Plant and Kumina. Tak’s part of that band.

You put out one CD with Shake Senora and one on your own. When will you be working on some new material?
I’ll be back in the studio in the spring and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been writing a lot, but I’ve also been listening to a lot of music from people like Keb’ Mo’ and Dylan. I also listened to the new Beck CD, “Sea Change.” That’s some incredible music. I could only listen to it a few times – it’s that intense – but it definitely changed the way I think about music. I’m also recording the show at Passim Sunday night and may put out a live CD.

Things seem to be going well. Are you able to be a musician full-time or do you have to keep a day job, too?
I work at Boston Language Institute teaching Americans how to teach English as a second language. The institute is very cool about working with artists and musicians as instructors. They understand what your schedule can be like and really make an effort to support what you’re doing.

- The Metro (Boston)

"On The Rise"

Shake Senora mixes funk and folk
By David Wildman

At the heart of the sometimes nine-piece group Shake Senora is a folk duo in love with funk-flavored Caribbean music, or maybe it’s the other way around.

Either way, bassist Fez Aswat and singer/acoustic guitarist Owen Plant are fascinated with rhythms that groove and words that move.

“I’ve played in groove-based bands before and with that kind of dance-oriented music – the lyrics are usually intolerable,” said Aswat, 23. “The thing about Owen is that he can really write good songs.”

“You see, I was a folk singer,” Plant, 25, responded, somewhat bashfully. “It would be hard for me to write party lyrics to that kind of music. I can’t be like James Brown. . . At the same time, I can’t feel comfortable singing about saving the planet, either.”

The result, as represented on Shake Senora’s first CD, “For the Likes of a Commoner,” is a deeply personal set of music that bops along in heavily syncopated island dance rhythms but puts the party on hold every few songs to interject soul-searing acoustic ballads into the mix.

“Trying to combine funk and folk sounds … could be a recipe for disaster, because we tend to exclude hard-core fans of either genre,” Aswat acknowledged.

In live shows, such as the ones they did this past winter at The House of Blues with the full complement of their extended ensemble, Shake Senora tend to downplay their sensitive side in order to keep people on the dance floor.

The result was that by the end of the night, they were leading the spirited crowd in conga lines around the room.

In a more subdued show they did at folk venue Club Passim last year, they split the difference: They opened the evening as a duo, and then started adding players a la The Talking Heads’ film “Stop Making Sense.”

As far as the extended members are concerned, sax man, Mattias Murhagen, guitarist Adam Strum, and percussionist Justin Feinstein have provided solid backing.

Still, Aswat and Plant have sometimes found it difficult finding musicians who can straddle the folk-funk hybrid that seems to come so easily to them.

“Actually, we can’t do it any other way,” Plant said. “I don’t really understand it. Whenever I strum the guitar, it comes out syncopated.”

“Neither Owen nor I can really play other genres the way they are supposed to sound,” Aswat said. “We can’t play the blues. It all ends up like this: If you take James Brown-style funk that is all on the downbeat and combine it with different upbeat Latin rhythms and Caribbean styles, you get something that is sort of in between, and that’s what we sound like.”

You can check out Shake Senora and their introspective party music on September 19 at a 9:00 p.m. show with openers Dr. Didg.

The House of Blues is located at 96 Winthrop St., Harvard Square. Tickets are $8. Call 491-BLUE for further information.

- Boston Globe Sept 10, 2000

"Eight is Enough"

Cemile Kavountzis,
March 4, 1999
MTV Local

Take eight characters, throw them together, and what do you have? Besides a catchy sitcom, you’ve got FEZ’N’OWEN. Most of the cast of Boston’s smallest but funkiest orchestra: Fez Aswat on an acoustic bass, Owen Plant on acoustic guitar and vocals, DeAntoni Parks on drums, Paula K. Green on percussion, Matias Murhogen on tenor sax and flute, Jeanette B. Harris on alto sax, Ed Selvaraj on trumpet and Adam Strum on guitar.

Last Friday, February 26, FEZ’N’OWEN opened for THE ROCKETT BAND and DISPATCH at The Middle east Downstairs. As group, the band recently evolved from several duo acts and various jam sessions, making Friday their first show together. Even with a bad case of bronchitis, lead singer Owen Plant and the band impressed the droves of friends and fans who came down for the show.

Musically, FEZ N’ OWEN delivers groove-based sounds with folk roots. With eight members, their music is complex and versatile, each person bringing his or her own personality and influence to the music. They sound like DAVE MATTHEWS BAND spiced up with some Latin, jazz and funk rhythms.

Speaking about their music, lead vocalist Owen Plant said “When we play, STEVIE WONDER meets Joni Mitchell, and there’s a really world feel to it. We bring together a mix of musical styles drawing on various cultures.” Besides bringing their own personal style to the stage, FEZ‘N’OWEN moves beyond convention with two female musicians who grab the audiences with their skills and stage presence.

After FEZ‘N’OWEN, hippie-rockers THE ROCKETT BAND played a long set of groovy, guitar-based songs. As a band, lead vocalist Rockett, guitarist Jon Trama, keyboardist Dan Berkson, drummer Randy Wootan, bassist Gary Wicks and percussionist Brendan Tommaney blend together classic rock sounds with space-age surprises. From beginning to end, their on-stage jam session had the audience moving and really feeling the music.

The headliners of the evening, the newly renamed DISPATCH (formally ONE FELL SWOOP) included “Chetro” (Chad Urmston) on vocals and guitar, “Peat” (Pete Heimbold) on bass and vocals and “Braddigan” (Brad Corrigan) on drums and vocals. Even though they’re a rock band, their music blends elements of folk, Latin and ska with powerful vocals and lyrics.

Throughout the set, band members played acoustic and electric guitars to create a unique and complex layering of sounds. With Gamelan Productions promoting the show, only the best bands in Boston could be expected. Fortunately, it wasn’t a disappointment.
- MTV College Stringer


"We All" (October, 2007)
Remastered songs and unreleased material. Creative 22 Records.

Full-length (Summer, 2007)

"Rock Just a Little."
Full-length. (Summer, 2005)

"Back on Earth - Live at Club Passim."
Full-length. (Spring, 2003)

"This is the One"
7-song EP. (Spring, 2002)

"For the Likes of a Commoner"
LP recorded with the band Shake Senora (2000)



Owen Plant is a Jamaican-born acoustic troubadour currently based in California. Owen Plant’s music features songwriting reminiscent of an introspective 70s singer/songwriter, set against a rich and vibrant Caribbean landscape. Owen’s strong vocals hark back to the emotional depth of Cat Stevens and the soulful passion of Bob Marley. Other influences, such as Paul Simon, Beck, Sting, and Jack Johnson, round out a sound that can be pensive, socially-conscious, entertaining, and compelling.

Another major contribution to Owen Plant’s rich sound is his experience growing up in Jamaica, where he toured around the country playing traditional Jamaican folk and American pop songs. These travels laid the foundation for music that celebrates diverse instrumentation, language, and rhythm. Owen’s music also draws great strength from a troubled past—experiences which are now channeled into a songwriting catharsis. Owen Plant’s poignant lyrics and heartfelt poetry express human suffering but also embrace hope and redemption.

Since departing frontman duties for Boston-based Shake Senora in 2001, Owen has released four albums as a solo artist. He is currently collaborating on an upcoming band project with features noted TV and movie composer Christopher Tyng (The OC, Rescue Me, Futurama) called The Sunshine Brothers. The Sunshine Brothers will release their self-titled feel-good album in the summer of 2007.

While performing across the U.S., Europe, and Canada, Owen Plant has shared stages with artists such as Ellis Paul, Livingston Taylor, The Tom Tom Club, Antigone Rising, and Jonathan Edwards. He has played at clubs like The House of Blues, as well as colleges and cafes around the U.S. Owen is a mainstay at Club Passim, Cambridge's legendary folk venue that was instrumental in the careers of icons like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

Owen Plant is a member of the elite street-performing program at Faneuil Hall, one of Boston's most famous attractions. Owen is also very proud of his affiliation with The Boston/NYC Improbable Players, an acting troupe that educates young people about drugs and alcohol. He is currently in the process of developing a similar organization on the West Coast that will feature his musical as well as dramatic abilities.

"Owen is a talented and engaging man. He's wonderful on stage and really connects with an audience." - Livingston Taylor, Singer/Songwriter and mentor to many aspiring artists

"If Bob Marley and James Taylor had a son, he would look nothing like this guy, but he might sound like him. A Jamaican kid raised in California, he can’t help but draw gorgeous melodies that defy categorization." -Derrick Ashong, GOOD Magazine

"Owen's music comes from a special place deep within him... it's not defined by boundaries and rules that limit and hold down most songwriters. His music is a joy to hear, his spirit great to be around."
- Ralph Jaccodine, Manager of artists like Ellis Paul and Antje Duvekot

"Owen Plant stands apart from the crowd. In a world where so many want to sound like someone else, Owen stays true to his own sound - and a great sound it is!"
- Matt Smith, Manager of the legendary Club Passim

"I admire Owen’s honesty and sincerity - he's driven but not self-promoting, an artist not an entertainer, but he is entertaining! Where an entertainer is simply an act, someone who is entertaining is himself. Everywhere Owen goes people want him to return. His music helps you feel and experience life in a different way... very emotional and heartwarming."
- Tim Collins, former Manager of acts such as Aeorosmith, Jonathan Edwards and Eddie Brakel