Jack Owens (1904-1997) was a farmer his entire life in the small town of Bentonia, Mississippi where he ran a juke joint on weekends at his home. David Evans met Jack during one his research trips in the 60s. Since that meeting hundreds of blues fans made the pilgrimage to Jack’s door. Alan Lomax visited him once and encouraged Owens to keep playing his guitar in his unique minor tuning.
How We Helped:
In the short time that Jack Owens got to spend with the Music Maker Relief Foundation, Music Maker helped him obtain a passport, record tracks on compilation CDs, and perform in his only international gig in Utrecht, Holland, at the Blues Estafette. Jack is featured in the book Music Makers: Portraits and Songs from the Roots of America.
When Tim Duffy visited him in 1995 he had taken that advice to heart and played only in this unique Bentonia style. Later that year Duffy arranged for him and David Evans to go on his first trip abroad to a festival in Utrecht, Holland. It took great efforts to get him a passport. David finally found an older relative who could give Owens an affidavit on who he was. They finally arrived at the airport only to have Owens detained as he had a pistol in his boot. Somehow they made the flight and got to the show.
He is compared to fellow Bentonian Skip James, but Owens music is uniquely his own. Jack Owens passed on February 9th, 1997.