A taste of Nashville coming to State TheatreMeet the men behind some of the most well-known country songs. Branding Iron Production presents Nashville Songwriters in the Round, with writers Ray Stephenson and Buddy Owens at 7 p.m. Friday June 1 and Saturday June 2 at the Zumbrota State Theatre.
Meet the men behind some of the most well-known country songs. Branding Iron Production presents Nashville Songwriters in the Round, with writers Ray Stephenson and Buddy Owens at 7 p.m. Friday June 1 and Saturday June 2 at the Zumbrota State Theatre.
The two have written for Grammy-nominated Album of the Year “Red River Blue,” by Blake Shelton and CMA nominated Album of the Year “Hemingways Whiskey,” by Kenny Chesney. Other artists they have worked with include Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Miranda Lambert, Justin McBride, Mark Chesnutt, Sunny Sweeny, Heartland, John Rich, Craig Morgan and Trent Willmon.
“These guys are responsible for a huge amount of songs on the radio today,” event promoter Lindsey Fulton said, “Their stories are just as fun as the concerts.”
Both Stephenson and Owens are accomplished painters and will have work on display at a free art show after their performance, she said.
“This is a great opportunity to hear many popular songs in a very intimate setting,” Fulton added. “It is so much fun to bring this really unique opportunity to small-town USA – in setting like Zumbrota, all that will be missing is a campfire.”
Tickets can be purchased at Wild Ginger in Zumbrota, Doc Sawyer’s in Goodhue or at the door. Doors open at 6 p.m.
As a child in Vera, Okla. — population 150 — Owens pretended that his bunk bed was a tour bus. He traveled all over the country in that bed, using a sit-and-spin as the steering wheel of the bus, he said. Once he arrived at his imaginary destination, he would set up a stage and perform in his bedroom to crowds of thousands.
While driving that imaginary bus, he listened to classic country records spinning on his parents’ hi-fi — Mearle Haggard, George Jones, and George Strait.
When he was 12 years old, his family moved closer to Tulsa, Okla, settling in Owasso, where he went to high school. He became involved in FFA and ran track, all the while keeping those dreams of performing country music alive.
Offered track scholarships, Owens instead followed his dream to play music in Nashville. He and friend Jared Tyler recorded the album “Vision of Blue – Heart of Gold.” Promoted through Owens’s connection to the FFA, the record was a hit and the band was featured on the cover of New Horizons magazine – the official magazine of the FFA. They played for more than 10,000 people at the National FFA convention and various FFA events across the country.
The boys decided a move to Nashville was a smart next step, where Owens took a job as a hotel valet. Parking cars and writing songs every day, he also started playing gigs in the honky tonks.
Around 2000, Owens took a painting class from fellow songwriter and painter Stephenson. Still working as a valet, Owens worked up his courage and took one of his paintings to Nina Farr, manager of the world-renowned Krause gallery at the hotel. She loved it and commissioned him to paint a portrait of her and her husband for their anniversary. Since that time, Owens has painted and sold commissioned work for art lovers all over the world.
While paying his dues in the honky tonks, he caught the ear of Phil O’Donnell, producer of Craig Morgan, who signed Owens to a publishing deal with Anchor Down. During that time Owens enjoyed more than 25 cuts by various artists, including Craig Morgan’s “Nothing Going Wrong ‘Round Here.”
Currently, he’s celebrating the writing of the title track of Blake Shelton’s forthcoming record “Red River Blue,” a duet with Miranda Lambert.
Stephenson has performed with Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Leanne Rimes and Rascal Flatts. Has played the Grand Ole Opry five times and shared the stage with legends such as Loretta Lynn, Guy Clark and Billy Joe Shaver.
Mixing has begun of the third album titled "Freedom" that is due out this summer.
In addition to songwriting and performing, his catalog of visual art continues to mature and blossom, promoters said. Recently the Monsters of Rock cruise lines began selling his line of rock ‘n’ roll artwork.
At a glance…
Who: Ray Stephenson and Buddy Owens
When: 7 p.m. Friday June 1 and Saturday June 2
Where: Zumbrota State Theatre, 88 E. Fourth St.
More info: 507-732-7616 or www.crossingsatcarnegie.com or www.youtube.com/raybomusic