Scottish to the core, with a Welsh name, residing in New Zealand and possessing a permanent hunger for Indian curry, Owen Hugh frequently describes himself simply as ‘confused’.

But no-one is confused about his delight and enthusiasm for music, and the response he gets from his audience. Owen is known for his pure voice, gentle guitar accompaniments and sense of humour and has been described in Hattie’s Live Music Guide as having a “silver voice” and delivering “sparse but effective guitar arrangements”.

Owen started out planning a life in farming, but likes to say he then discovered wine, women and slow cars. In actual fact, he discovered that a man with a guitar and an extensive list of songs is always welcome at parties. While this wasn’t the best discovery for his degree in agriculture, it did set the course for the rest of his life as a musician. Known to his friends as “the human jukebox”, he’s also renowned for his enviable natural ear, which enables him to replicate a song within minutes of hearing it.

Owen’s versatility as a performer is obvious when his singing past is explored. From being a popular busker, to performing in a ‘medieval’ trio, providing background music in cafes, solo gigs in pubs, entertainment at local markets, being the musical soul of any party, lead singer of a variety of bands and a soloist opening for the Saw Doctors in England … the list goes on. He has the song list and energy to match whatever is called for. And while he’d prefer the label ‘new acoustic’ over ‘folkie’, there is no doubting his popularity in the folk scene, as he has played many of the folk clubs in New Zealand and the UK. He’s also appeared several times at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and performed at Cambridge Folk Festival, Stainsby and the Otley Black Sheep Festival.

Owen’s eight (so far …) CDs are all independently produced and reflect his many and varied life experiences. However, it’s in his live performances that both the power and the humour of his lyrics and delivery actually hit home. One reviewer noted “I don’t recall one song that was asked for that he couldn’t sing and play” and “Owen is one of the very few performers I have seen … that can shut the audience up with the power of his songs and delivery alone”. Having recently surfaced from a five-year writer’s block, Owen has once again reverted to his prolific writing of the past and has proudly released his eighth album “You and I”. This album was one of the final three in the Tui Folk Album of the Year for 2007.

© Anna Thomson 2010