Checking In: Trumpet Clarion Ephraim Owens Sits at the Piano

Tedeschi Trucks Band brass man always broadens our scope

If Austin boasts a Miles Davis – one jazz man, a trumpet icon, that everybody knows regardless of genre knowledge – it’s Ephraim Owens. Backline mainstay in this century’s stand-ins for the Allman Brothers, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, the local horn wrangler took home Best Jazz at the Austin Music Awards last month. Here, he blows a short, sharp solo.

Owens (r) accepting the Best Jazz statuette from comedian and co-host Chris Cubas at the Austin Music Awards on March 11 (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Austin Chronicle: Where are you sheltering and under what circumstances? Who else is there and how’s that going?

Ephraim Owens: I’m homebound in South Austin, with my lady and her part-time daughter. Things are fine and we’re fine, just adjusting to all the what-to-do-nexts with C-19.

AC: At what point did C-19 shut down operations for you, and what went down with the ship, so to speak, both personally & professionally?

EO: I’d have to say a week after I got back home off tour with Tedeschi Trucks Band on March 9. The drag is that my bandmates lost their work as well. Personally, I’m trying to be productive through the bored times.

“Listening to music is my love, food, exercise, drink, and so is sitting in its silence! Performing is everything to me and my soul. It’s my medicine.”

AC: As a global culture, people employ music for every purpose imaginable, obviously spanning religion to entertainment and everything in between. What happens to communities like ours when people can no longer access it in person – at a show, at Central Market, at SXSW?

EO: I’d have to say thank God for records, livestreams, YouTube, and web access. The upside of this pandemic is that musicians and people are really finding new creative ways to exist during this time.

AC: Everyone is having to shift or drastically alter their work situation. What does that look like for you?

EO: Putting attention toward yardwork, walks, sitting at the piano and on the trumpet, and using this time to catch up on things that have been on hold (music, memorabilia, accolades, etc).

AC: What’s your soundtrack for the apocalypse and what role does music play for you as a fan and scholar of it in times of hardship?

EO: Jazz, soul, gospel, funk, some classical, blues, Tom Waits. Über hard to be specific within these genres. Listening to music is my love, food, exercise, drink, and so is sitting in its silence! Performing is everything to me and my soul. It’s my medicine. I love that I’m blessed to share it on a broad scope and people dig it. I deeply miss that part during this strange time.

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Ephraim Owens, Miles Davis, Tedeshi Trucks Band, Allman Brothers, Tom Waits, 2019/20 Austin Music Awards, Checking In 2020

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