Maine musician Owen Kennedy is an award-winning fiddler rooted in the Maine Maritime musical tradition and immersed in his growing passion for Scottish music, splitting time between Maine and Cape Breton where he's studying Gaelic language, culture, and music at Beinn Mhàbu.  Owen's love of traditional music and enthusiasm for performing has taken him all over New England, into Maritime Canada, and over to Scotland and Shetland, where he has played with the Pineland Fiddlers, the Young Tradition Vermont’s Touring Group and Youth Commission, and in duos with Seán Heely, Ethan Tischler, and Ben Foss.  Owen is the 2022 New England Regional Open Scottish Fiddle Champion, the 2021 Junior US National Scottish Fiddle Champion, and won the 2021 Young Stars of Maine "Glenn Jenks Future in Music" prize.  More recently, Owen has begun adding the tenor banjo and traditional songs into his performances.  Owen’s powerful playing can capture the melancholy of a Scottish air, mimic the sound of pipes in a march, or drive a good ol’ New England contradance tune.   

Owen’s debut album "Oh When: Now" was recorded with Owen Marshall and released in 2023.  Oh When: Now is an all-Maine project, recorded with Owen Marshall & Noah Fishman, mastered by Lincoln Clapp, with album design by Elsie Gawler and duplication from Crooked Cove.  It features tunes Owen has loved for years as well as newer favorites from Scotland, Cape Breton, and Shetland. It's a musical snapshot of the places he's visited and the musicians he's played with and learned from. You may recognize a Maine Fiddle Camp favorite or a tune from the jam sessions at Boston States Fiddle Camp; there's a Seán Heely original that Seán joins in on; and lots of awesome pipe tunes including some learned at The Pipers' Gathering.  Owen is also wrapping up a solo project, 50 Fiddlers from 50 States, available on YouTube.

Recent performances include the Young Stars of Maine Prizewinners Concert, the New World Festival, Waldo Fiddle Fest, Maine Celtic Celebration, and the Flurry Festival; opening sets for Còig in Maine and Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas in Vermont; house concerts in Cherryfield, for the Brownington Ceilidh Club in Vermont and a notloB Parlour Concert in Massachusetts; as well as several Maine tours with Seán Heely, most recently playing at the Maine Irish Heritage Center as well as joining the Seán Heely Band at The Dance Hall in Kittery and for the Maine Highland Games.  The YTV Touring Group spent 10 days in Cape Breton in April 2023, performing at the Highland Village, Strathspey Place, the Old Triangle Pub, and at the Gaelic College.  A May 2023 tour with the Youth Commission took them from a Feast & Field performance in Barnard, up to Quebec for the Fête de Mai celebration, and ended with a performance at Club Passim in Cambridge, MA.  Over the years, Owen has shared the stage with Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy, Genticorum, Claude Méthé, Pete Sutherland & Oliver Scanlon, the Outside Track, Andrea Beaton & Troy MacGillivray, and Owen Marshall and performed solo at local markets & festivals, kicking off the Boys & Girls Club National Conference in San Diego with an audience of several thousand, and at The Big Gig, the final Shetland Folk Frenzy concert at The Mareel.  

In addition to performing, Owen Kennedy has been giving private fiddle lessons in-person and online since 2019.  Currently he’s also offering group lessons at Beinn Mhàbu and will be teaching at the 2024 Trad Camp in Burlington, VT.  Owen’s passion for teaching is fueled by his excitement to carry and pass on the fiddle tradition and what he has learned from the many mentors who have generously taught him over the years.

Now spending part of each year in Cape Breton, Owen is studying at Beinn Mhàbu and thriving in the rich musical landscape.  Owen has had the opportunity to learn from Gaelic speakers, culture-bearers, and musicians in the classroom and in the community, whether making “white pudding,” learning waulking songs while hiking along a stream, or playing tunes in the stairwell with one of the artists-in-residence.  Owen has joined in several performing opportunities, including a Ships of 1801 show and at the Highland Village’s Oidhche Shamhna (Gaelic Halloween) in Iona, and has been featured in two Wednesday Night Céilidhs at the The Gaelic College.  Evenings might find him at an informal céilidh in a local living room, playing or dancing at a square dance, or joining in at a session at The Red Shoe or An Drochaid.  Not one to miss the chance to go fishing or exploring, he’s also thoroughly enjoying time out on the water, cooking up fish by bonfire on shore, and hiking in the mountains and along quiet gravel roads.

Owen's musicality and commitment to traditional music has been recognized by several awards:

2022 New England Regional Open Scottish Fiddle Champion

Owen won the 2022 New England Regional Open Scottish Fiddle Championship, held at the New Hampshire Highland Games, his first time competing against adults.  He also won "Best March," "Best Strathspey," and "Best Air."  He played Mo rùn geal òg also known as My Fair Young Love or Lament for William Chisholm, written by Christina Fergusson for her husband, William Chisholm who was killed at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.  His MSR was Sprig of Ivy; Craigellachie Bridge, and Barbara's Welcome Home.  Most of these tunes were learned from Seán Heely, except for Sprig of Ivy which Alasdair White taught him at the Piper's Gathering in 2021.  His winning set is available on Youtube.  

After placing in the top ten three years in a row, Owen won 2nd place in Young Tradition Vermont's Festival Contest.  The competition accepted submissions from all over the United States as well as internationally.  

2021 Iguana Fund Recipient from Club Passim

Debut album Oh When: Now 

Owen is thrilled & honored to be an Iguana Fund recipient for his debut album Oh When: Now!  

The Iguana Music Fund is an annual grant program predominantly funded by generous anonymous donors, plus the help of Passim, sponsorships, and community donations. Each year the Iguana Music Fund gives approximately $40,000 in grants to individual artists in amounts from $500 to $2,000 each. Grants are used for projects and expenses to aid in artists' career growth, and range from recording projects to community programs to specialized equipment or instruments. 

2021 Junior US National Scottish Fiddle Champion

After placing first in the Ohio Scottish Games and with a recommendation from the Scottish FIRE Qualifier judges in June, Owen competed in the September 11th, 2021 US National Scottish Fiddle Championships.  He placed first, winning the Junior US National Scottish Fiddle Champion title.  He played Sitting on the Stern of the Boat (air) and The Conundrum, The Iron Man, and The Gladstone (MSR).  A video of his competition set is available on YouTube.  

Owen's achievement was officially recognized by the State of Maine Senate and House of Representatives on September 27th, 2021, sponsored by Senator Craig Hickman and co-sponsored by Representative Tavis Hasenfus.

2021 Young Stars of Maine Prizewinner from Bay Chamber Music School

Owen is the inaugural winner of the "Glenn Jenks Future in Music Prize". 

2021 Best of All Things Irish in Maine

Owen was selected for Best of All Things Irish in Maine by the Maine Irish Heritage Center.

2020 Young Artist Scholarship from Acadia Traditional School of Music & Arts

Owen was awarded scholarship funds for lessons with the Acadia Trad instructor of his choice, Seán Heely.

Owen began playing the violin at four years old as a Pineland Suzuki School student, learning music by ear; his first violin was a box with a ruler stuck in it “played” with a wooden dowel rod. He studied with Betsy Kobayashi for ten years and participated in several chamber & orchestral ensembles including the Capital Strings ensemble, Mozart Mentors Orchestra, Maine All State Orchestra, and Mid-Maine Youth Orchestra.

Although he enjoyed the challenge and intricate harmonies of classical music, Owen's true love is fiddling.  At seven, Owen began lessons with Maine Master Fiddler Ellen Gawler and performing with the youth group she leads, the Pineland Fiddlers.  From his very first fiddle performance of Shetland tunes at the beloved Skye Theatre, it became clear that Owen had a gift:  his infectious joy in sharing traditional music.  Owen continues to join Ellen Gawler on stage whenever he can and has a deep affection for the Maine Maritime style he plays for contradances, at Maine Fiddle Camp, and at various celebrations and local events.

Owen’s connection to the Scottish style was ignited in Cape Breton, when he first visited with the Pineland Fiddlers in 2015 and when he returned for Celtic Colours 2018.  The flame grew in 2019, with an immersion into the music of the otherworldly Shetland Islands at the Shetland Folk Frenzy and jam sessions in Edinburgh.  Soon after, Owen met champion Celtic fiddler Seán Heely and was inspired by Seán’s performances and workshops at the Acadia Traditional School of Music and Dance and Fiddle Hell, motivating him to dive into the Scottish fiddling tradition and join Seán’s studio in 2020, and culminating in his own recent win at the Junior US National Scottish Fiddle Championship competition.  Since then, they have performed together in Maine each year beginning in 2021 with events at the Boothbay Railway Festival, Doolin’s Pub, and Searsport Shores.   In May 2022, Owen joined Seán and Beth Patterson to perform at The Hayloft at Dragonfly Barn, with Belfast Flying Shoes at Mermaid Plaza, at Irish Night at Blue in Portland, as part of the Old South Church Concert Series in Farmington, and in their final stop on the May Tour, Bangor Celtic Crossroads.  In August, Owen was a guest performer with the Seán Heely Band at the Maine Highland Games and at The Dance Hall in Kittery.  Later that same year, Owen won the New England Regional Open Scottish Fiddle Championship and was awarded best reel, best, strathspey, and best march as well.  Most recently Owen and Seán played at the Maine Irish Heritage Center in Portland and at Cumston Hall in Monmouth.

In addition to performing with the Pineland Fiddlers, Owen played with the Maine Folque Co-op for many years, including when the group performed at the American Folk Festival in Bangor in 2015.  Led by Cindy Larock and based in the Lewiston/Auburn area, the Maine Folque Co-op provided music for contradances and various special events like St. Patrick’s Day, the Great Falls Balloon Festival, and Maine Maple Sunday.  In 2019, Owen joined the Young Tradition Vermont Touring Group, an auditioned trad band of teen musicians, singers, and dancers who focus on learning traditional music and dance repertoire, performing monthly in Vermont at venues like the Barre Opera House, the Chandler Center for the Arts, and the Highland Center for the Arts.  In 2022-23 Owen was a Youth Artist Leader for the Touring Group, along with Artist Leaders Dominique Dodge and Andrea Beaton.  The group toured Cape Breton playing music at schools, retirement communities, and at local venues including the Old Triangle Pub, Strathspey Place, and the Highland Village.

When Owen is not making music with friends, performing, or practicing on his own, he enjoys fishing, hiking, hanging out with his dogs, boating, taking drives down back roads, cooking, bonfires, and the occasional computer game with his buddies.