ANDY GALL: A Peterborough musician will be touring the country with his yellow van called Penelope from next month. Conor Owen begins his nationwide tour with a twist in March, and our reporter Johnny Dee is finding out more. Good morning Johnnie. (GUITAR MUSIC)
JOHNNIE DEE: That is the wonderful guitar sound of Conor Owen. He looks like a rock star. Could be in Snow Patrol or the Kings of Leon. I’ve come to Netherton in Peterborough. You’re about to start an unusual tour. Now tell us about your tour Conor.
CONOR OWEN: Basically it’s called the Park Up and Play Tour, and I’m going to be doing all the shows out of the back of my van, from 21st March to 31st March. I’m going to be calling in the Cambridgeshire region from 24th March in Cambridge, and the 26th March, playing in Peterborough.
JOHNNIE DEE: You’re going to some other major cities as well, aren’t you?
CONOR OWEN: Yes, I’m going all round the country, Brighton, London and up North, like Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, eleven different cities. It’s going to be fun.
JOHNNIE DEE: You’ve got your little yellow van outside, called Penelope. We’ll get into that in a minute. Will you have a PA system, speakers in there as well?
CONOR OWEN: Yes. I’ve got a small PA system, and a lot of extension leads to hopefully run it through a local shop’s power supply. It’s a bit cheeky, but you need to get the power somehow.
JOHNNIE DEE: Forgive me, but is this 21st century busking, do you think?
CONOR OWEN: It’s a little more organised than busking. The concept’s a bit different than just sitting in the street and playing music. But you could call it 21st century busking. I wouldn’t be offended if you called it that.
JOHNNIE DEE: Now you’re going on a long drive, all around the country. Petrol is expensive. Diesel is expensive. How are you going to make any money at this?
CONOR OWEN: Well I’m not doing it for money,. but I do have an album I’ve just finished recording, called The Observationalist, which will be out towards the end of the summer, and I’ve got promo copies of that that I’m going to be selling for £6. So that should contribute to the petrol costs.
JOHNNIE DEE: Let’s get on to Penelope now, because you’ve got this van. I assumed it was going to be pink, for Lady Penelope out of Thunderbirds perhaps. She had a pink Rolls Royce. You’ve got a yellow van. Why is it called Penelope?
CONOR OWEN: I don’t really know why it’s called Penelope, but I had a gig a year and a half ago in London with my old band, and my drummer’s girlfriend decided it looked like a Penelope, and it kind of stuck. So .. It kind of suits, a nice yellow van, Penelope sounds nicer.
JOHNNIE DEE: You’re singing and playing all your own material presumably?
CONOR OWEN: Yes. It’s all my own material that I’ve accumulated over the last couple of years of doing my own singer/songwriter stuff.
JOHNNIE DEE: As Kerry Devine would say, on BBC, introducing .. can you play just a quick snatch of one of your songs?
CONOR OWEN: I will do..
JOHNNIE DEE: I’ll accompany you on a kazoo.
CONOR OWEN: Amazing. Thank you. (MUSIC) (FADE OUT)
ANDY GALL: There you go. Johnnie Dee with an unassuming, underplayed kazoo, with Conor Owen. And he begins his national tour in Brighton in March 21st. Then he’s in Peterborough on 26th.
Conor Owen at MySpace