Owen Temple, 30, is a Ph.D. psychology major at UW-Madison. Here's one of the ways he uses all that knowledge of human nature: He writes country music.
The Kernville, Texas, native was a staple of the Austin and Dallas music scenes for nearly a decade before he moved here last year. He's sold 25,000 copies of his first three albums. The Dallas Morning News named his 2002 release, Right Here and Now, as one of the Top 5 Texas albums of that year.
Can a country songwriter from the South find success in the Madison music scene?
'I find the people in Madison to be just as supportive of traditional music,' says Temple. 'It's really more a difference of scale than anything else. In a place like Austin, you'd have maybe six to eight roots-music shows on any particular night. Here you maybe only have two or three.'
Temple arrived in Madison in the summer of 2005, but has taken time to make a home for himself, his wife and 2-year-old son. Now he's ready to seek a presence in the local scene. He's booked initial shows at the Weary Traveler (Oct. 11) and Brocach (Oct 26).
'One of the things I've done since I got up here is to write about 25 new songs,' says Temple. 'You only need 10 to make a new CD, so I definitely am planning to put out something new very soon.'
Temple writes polished country music, infused with folk traditions. What distinguishes his songs are lyrics that extend the plainspoken stories associated with the genre into a more nuanced psychological terrain (will he carry the honky-tonk Ph.D. torch left behind by the Junkers?).
Temple is already connected with other Madison roots musicians, including John Fabke of the Nob Hill Boys. Last month he appeared on Bill Malone's WORT show, 'Back to the Country.'
'A group of seven or eight of us had a picking party recently,' says Temple. 'It was at a house over by East High School, and we were all out in the backyard, playing songs and passing around our instruments.
'Somebody said, 'I bet you did this kind of thing in Austin all the time.' But the fact is, I didn't. Austin was almost too big for that. The community here has a lot to offer.'
Temple has begun to schedule local shows well past October. With four years left to go in his Ph.D. program, his Madison years have just begun.
'I'm looking forward to being here for a while.'