i n f l u e n c e s
As a songwriter
Shawn Phillips and Kris Kristofferson
Both of these two artists exerted massive early influences on Overn's approach to songwriting that have persisted and continue to inform and influence his work to this day. Odd how these two Texans had that impact from that far away on a kid from Edmonton, Alberta.
However, both of those artists are absolute masters at what they do, and key to Overn's appreciation of them is each of their ability to express truth as they see it, albeit it in radically different styles and forms. He considers himself very blessed to have gotten
to spend time with each of them over the years and considers them major influences of his life beyond just musically. Other songwriting influencers include Stephen Bruton, John Prine, Barry Gibb, Michael McDonald, and Gino Vannelli.
As a guitarist
Carlos Santana and Robben Ford
From the very first note he heard out of Carlos Santana's guitar, a young Miles Overn was hooked. It was if all of creation was somehow contained in his tone and the way he formed a note. Santana was far and away the single largest influence on Overn for years and years. It wasn't until he
discovered Robben Ford a couple decades later that he would go "hang on now, what is this?" In Ford's playing he heard an entirely different way of fusing blues and rock and jazz. These two guitarists still provide ample inspiration and motivation for Overn whenever he
picks up any of his guitars.
There have been so many other great guitarists that have had a major impact over time. In his early years on the instrument is was the fusion guys like John McLuaghlin, Larry Coryell, Al di Meola and the like that left their mark. Later on it would become the smooth
jazz masters that would introduce another element to his style. Players like Lee Ritenour, Larry Carlton, Paul Brown, Jeff Golub, and Chris Standring are among the guitarists that form the basis of his musical diet today.
I have to mention my dad as my first encounter with the instrument was watching and listening to him play his classical guitar in the house. His touch on the guitar and the way he was able to bring whichever note he wanted out and give it just the amount of
prominence it deserved in a piece was something that I marvelled at. I really thought it was magic or something you just had to be born with for the longest time. He would teach me that it was learnable and to this day, in my moments of best playing, I am mindful of
dynamics and nuance and touch that stem from those earliest encounters. Thanks Dad.
Some Favourites and Bests
Even all these years later, I have to go with seeing Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia in San Francisco shortly after they had released their Friday Night in San Francisco album. That was near perfection, and an absolute nirvanic experience for a young guitarist
who was heavily into the acoustic jazz fusion thing at the time. Definitely a "sell my clothes, I'm going to heaven" moment.
Honourable mentions? More than a few. The first time I saw Shawn Phillips perform, which was at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium back in the 70s. Andrea Bocelli at Talking Stick in Phoenix, Arizona in 2017 was beyond spell binding. Gino Vannelli in Edmonton on his
Brother to Brother tour. Unlike anything I had seen before or have seen since. Powerful and then some. Chris Botti in West Kelowna. Really, any of his many visits there, but the one that probably sticks out the most is back in 2012 when he had Billy Childs and Billy Kilson
in the band, along with Leo Ameudo on guitar and Caroline Campbell on violin. One of the most impressive displays of musical virtuosity and musicality I have ever seen. I can't not include Victor Wooten in Hollywood back in 2010 or Robben Ford at Jazz Alley in Seattle in 2010
or U2 in Edmonton on their 360̊ tour in 2011.
As a concert photographer, this is a difficult set of choices for me. I have been fortunate enough to have shot over 1,000 musicians and bands at shows up and down the west coast and across Western Canada. I'll admit, it's a nice problem to have, but because of the sheer number
of concerts seen, I have to leave out many phenomenal performances by massively gifted artists and bands.
Favourite Music DVDs
Miles Davis Live in Muncih has been at the top of my list since I first picked it up. It is from a performance in 1988, and the DVD was released in 2002. The band on this disc was comprised of Miles on trumpet, Joe "Foley" McCreary on four string guitar, Benny Rietveld on bass,
Kenny Garrett on sax and flute, Marilyn Mazur on percussion, Bobby Irving and Adam Holzman on keyboards and synths, and Ricky Wellman on drums. This is where I first heard Rietveld play, and I was delighted when he went on to join Sanata. Kenny Garrett is Kenny Garrett, so that
was cool, and what Foley does on that 4-string thing on this DVD is just so far beyond cool.
Unquestionably Carlos Santana's solo on the version of "Europa" from his Moonflower album. Pure brilliance, and that bent note that he holds for sooooo long. Not to mention the way he ultimately releases the bend. I mean, come on.
Honourable mentions? Stevie Ray Vaughan on "Lenny" or "Riveria Paradise." Those are darn right gorgeous. Robben Ford on "Help The Poor" or "Talk To Your Daughter."