STORIES THEY TELL
I was born in 1976 AD on a 4.5 billion year old blue planet in a solar system in the Gould Belt of the Orion Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Approximately 5,200 years after the invention of writing in Mesopotamia, and 18 years after my birth in Kerrville, Texas, I started writing songs about remarkable people and places that I wanted to remember. Because no one else knew the songs, I started singing them myself at a bar in Austin, Texas on Tuesday nights.
Through music, I kept meeting interesting people, and through writing and singing songs about them, I have had the opportunity to travel around the North American continent and also around Europe. When no interesting people are around, I make up songs and stories about interesting people that I imagine.
But there have been plenty of fascinating people around me during the years I have lived in Mountain Home, Houston, Dallas, New York, Madison, Wisconsin, and now again, since 2007, Austin.
Over the years, I have recorded the songs and offered them for sale, as albums, 6 different times. In September of 2013, I will offer the latest - a 7th collection of songs called 'Stories They Tell' - to the public in exchange for money and attention.
The eleven new songs add up to a retrospective, big picture look at what humans have been doing over the last 10,000 years. Making tools and stuff, forming relationships based on power, money, sex, and/or love, and, most importantly, telling stories of how it all went down.
On this album, there are also songs about superstition, innovation, power, theft, technology, travel, philosophy, politics, aging, and history.
Some of the most interesting people I have met worked with me on these songs. Over coffee and beers with Gordy Quist, Adam Carroll, A.J. Roach, Paul Cauthen, David Beck, and Clay McClinton, we wrote several of these new ones. And I wrote about half of them by myself, usually on cocktail napkins or the digital notepad of smartphones.
I played the songs for producer and guitarist Gabriel Rhodes and he liked them and we came up with a plan to record them at his studio, just west of Austin, with Rick Richards on drums and Josh Flowers on bass. My friends Colin Brooks and Jamie Wilson said they were willing to drive over to the studio and sing harmony vocals.
Then the most amazing thing happened. I sent a message with the idea to record the songs in an email to a big group of friends and other interesting people I have met over the years.
And 225 of them, from 13 different countries and 26 states, said, "yes, let's do it."
So we all put our money together to pay the musicians, recording engineers, graphic designers, photographers, printers, postal workers, compact disc and vinyl record manufacturers, and now we've got this album we all made together, available as digital downloads, CDs, and vinyl LPs.
I hope you enjoy listening to it, and I bet you can tell we had a very good time making it.
And here's to the beautiful and complicated ongoing experiment of human life on earth- and here's to the Stories They Tell.
Mountain Home, the sixth studio record from Austin, Texas-based songwriter Owen Temple, is a collection of songs and stories about eccentric characters set in small towns and on the fringes of big cities. Mountain Home may be his strongest collection yet.
The characters are all on edge- on the verge of freedom, catastrophe, and hope- and the songs tell of strange happenings in rural landscapes both past and present.
Recorded with producer Gabe Rhodes, the album has the feel of a live performance with stellar contributions from Charlie Sexton on bass and baritone guitar, Bukka Allen on keyboards, Tommy Spurlock on pedal steel and drummer Rick Richards.
The project includes songs written by Temple and co-writes with Adam Carroll, Scott Nolan, and Gordy Quist (of The Band of Heathens). Temple’s love of folk, blues, and bluegrass shines through in the arrangements and the playing of his compadres.
“I love traditional music- old songs that cross time and space to tell you what the people cared about,” Temple says. “With my songs I'm trying to get down some of the stories of this place.”
Temple’s last album, Dollars and Dimes, hit #5 on the Freeform American Roots chart and #1 on the Euro Americana chart and earned raves for its uncompromising vision of the American dream’s darker side. On Mountain Home, Temple narrows his focus, honing in on the small towns and colorful characters of his home state. The basic tracks were cut live with minimal overdubs. Temple’s emotive singing brings the songs to vibrant life.
Mountain Home explores the lives of small time hustlers, politicians, hard scrabble farmers, wildcatters, and ne’er do wells that contributed to the colorful history of Southwest Texas. Tracks include the bluesy “Medicine Man,” the story of the mad conquistador Cabeza de Vaca; “Small Town,” a talking blues that captures the claustrophobia one feels in a community where everyone knows your business; “Desdemona,” a moody eulogy to an oil rush boomtown; “Old Sam,” a salute to Sam Houston that blends the facts and fiction that gave birth to Texas mythology; and the title track, a bluegrass shuffle that tells the story of a jailbird returning home after a 20 year stretch in the pen.
The songs on Mountain Home are vignettes of real life. Temple’s singing gives them a sense of time and place that makes you feel the hot dusty sun and the cold chill of the unforgiving night. The album captures the feel of the desperate dreamers who want to believe in their latest scheme, even as they feel reality breathing down their neck.
Owen Temple won the B. W. Stevenson Songwriting Competition sponsored by Poor David’s Club in Dallas and became a finalist at the Kerrville Folk Festival’s New Folk competition in 2007. He’s known throughout Texas, the Midwest, and the Eastern US as a first-class songwriter, compelling performer and fine singer. Three of his previous albums, General Store, Passing Through, and Two Thousand Miles, were produced by Lloyd Maines and became regional best sellers.
Temple met multi-instrumentalist and producer Gabe Rhodes, son of singer/songwriter Kimmie Rhodes, in 2006. Rhodes became part of Temple’s touring band and produced Dollars and Dimes and Mountain Home. Temple and Rhodes will be touring to support the album. “I’m a songwriter out of the narrative folk tradition,” Temple says. “The songs I remember hearing years afterward, that stick with me longest, are songs that have taken me places, that allow you to travel with the story. I hope to continue that tradition, to pass that experience on.”