Owen Weaver, a percussionist who was born to be wild

“Music can take you to interesting places. Having grown up in Bemidji, Owen Weaver is a Bemidji native, who loved to play drums. He ended up in the percussion program at the University of Minnesota music school under Fernando Meza where he added mallets to his drumsticks.

Weaver came to the MPR studios today to talk about his work.

His path then took him to Austin Tx, and now New York, where he is having a blast using a combination of electronics and found objects for this percussive work. He’ll play a piece on tuned brake drums when he plays the Southern Theater in Minneapolis tomorrow night in a new music double bill with Jace Clayton AKA DJ/Rupture.

You can find a lot of Weaver’s work online, but he only has one piece at present on his MySpace site.

“That’s a fun one,” Weaver admits of the arrangement of “Born to be Wild” by David Lang.

“He took the text of the classic Steppenwolf song, that we all know and love – I grew up listening to my dad’s record quite a bit. And so when I learned this piece existed and I had the opportunity to play it I was just thrilled.”

You’ll hear no guitars in the Weaver/Lang version, but you do get the words.

“He takes a really deadpan rendering of these lyrics, that you realize when you hear them by themselves how they are totally absurd,” Weaver told me. “And he sets it to a sort of clanging percussion backdrop, a driving rhythmic scheme, and all the way through, verse-chorus, verse-chorus, bridge, the whole thing, but a completely different re-imagining of the piece that is both rye and pretty effective and funny at the same time.”

When I put it to him it’s a mind-bending version of the classic rocker, he agrees. But he sees a real value to it.

“Things like that can be fairly post-modern, but just the amount of leeway we’re given these days by the artists and composers that have come before is a nice cushion to have to explore repertoire like this. And I find that a lot of people who haven’t heard music of this sort, they hear it for the first time and there’s not as much of a shock as you might expect.”

It’s definitely worth a listen.

  • Dayna

    Nice to see a fellow Bemidji native featured! Great job!

  • Judy

    Great article and photo. I have heard Owen play “Born to be Wild” and agree that it is funky, fun, and great! Sorry I am missing the concert tonight–too far to fly from Reno.

    Hope to catch you later this holiday season,

    Judy