Since Travis Owen moved to Aberdeen, he's gotten to know a lot of people.
The Denver native has been very involved in the Northern State University athletic department. He played football and baseball at Northern and is now an assistant softball coach. He was a graduate assistant in strength and conditioning.
He's also played tunes for a lot of people. During his time in Aberdeen, Owen has played piano and sang at a number of area businesses, including the Ward Plaza pub, the Elks Lodge, Anchors Away, Slackers and the Red Rooster.
Owen, 28, will entertain local folks for the last time tonight. His performance at the Ward Plaza, which runs from 8 to 11 p.m., is his farewell Aberdeen show. He's moving to Batesville, Ark., where he will become head softball coach at Lyon College. The lanky Owen, who stands 6-foot-4, will also teach weight training classes.
At his Aberdeen shows, Owen likes to play and sing the music of Billy Joel, the Eagles and the Beatles. He also likes Queen, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.
“He’s awesome. He comes with a play list and everybody can pick the songs they like. He gets everybody to sing with him,” says Melissa Erlenbusch, the Ward Plaza's general manager.
Erlenbusch's favorite sing-along song at Owen's shows is the theme to “Cheers.”
You don't see many people who can play both football and piano bars. Owen gives credit for his different skills to his parents, Paul and Mary Owen.
“My parents kind of embraced my strengths,” he said. “They saw that I had a good ear for music,” and encouraged him to take piano lessons, which he did from fourth to eighth grade.
Many young athletes miss out on things because they focus on sports, Owen said.
Owen has his material. But in his Aberdeen shows, he focuses on familiar songs because that's what people like.
A graduate of Bishop Machebeuf High School in Denver, Owen earned his bachelor's degree in 2007 from St. Louis University, where he majored in marketing and minored in music. At Northern, he played football and baseball as a graduate student. He received his master's degree from Northern in 2011. That degree is in education, with an emphasis on health, coaching and physical education. While at Northern, he also played in a jazz ensemble.
Some of his Northern athletic buddies, including coaches, attend his Aberdeen shows. Whether they come “depends on their recruiting schedules,” he said.
When Owen moves away from Aberdeen, he'll miss the city's lack of a rush hour. Aberdeen is a large enough city that there are things to do, he said, but he'll ride his bike to his show at the Ward tonight.
“It takes me two minutes,” he says. You can't do that in Denver.