Owney the Mail Dog

One of the inspirations for the stories told on our upcoming CD is the legend of Oney.  Stolen from Wikipedia: He was a stray Border terrier adopted as the first unofficial postal mascot by the Albany, New York, post office about 1888. The Albany mail professionals recommended the dog to their Railway Mail Service colleagues, and he became a nationwide mascot for 9 years (1888–97).[1] He traveled throughout the 48 contiguous United States and voyaged around the world traveling over 140,000 miles in his lifetime as a mascot of the Railway Post Office and the United States Postal Service.

Owney was an abandoned puppy adopted in 1888 by a post office worker named Owen, who worked at the Albany post office. Seeking shelter on a rainy night, the young mutt wandered into the back door of the post office, which had been accidentally left ajar. The pup seemed to love the smell of the mail bags and soon made one his bed.

Owney received tags everywhere he went, and as he moved they jingled like sleigh bells.  His collection of tags grew so large that United States Postmaster General John Wanamaker gave him a coat to display them all. Wanamaker also announced that Owney was then the Official Mascot of the Rail Mail Service. It is said to be impossible to know how many dog tags and medals Owney received. Despite the jacket, the mass became impossible for the small dog to carry. Clerks would remove tags and forward them to Albany or Washington D.C. for safekeeping. One source suggests that 1,017 medals and tokens were bestowed upon the mascot. Some of these tags did not survive; the National Postal Museum currently has 372 Owney tags in its collections.

Concept Album

The concept:

The Road West was originally conceived as a group of songs inspired by the places, events and general attitude of West Texas. West Texas encompasses a rather broad swath of different real estate, but it is arguably considered by general consensus to be any part of the state west of Fort Worth. For us, West Texas is a place of adventure, history, and colorful personal experience. For me, it’s part of my DNA. It’s where I came from. It’s where I hope my ashes are someday scattered. And though I left it many years ago in search of something better, it will always be my home.




So where did all these white people in Texas come from? They were all driven here by various desires and needs, but none of those forces were ever more compelling than hunger. Famine tells the story of a desperate Irishman who had to flee his home to escape the ravages of starvation brought on by the great famine of the mid 1800’s.

The early Spanish explorers dubbed this river Brazos De Dios (The arms of God) because of it’s long winding turns. It was a vital part of the earliest native inhabitant’s lives. It became a prized possession of almost every culture that came to the region in search of conquest.

This Is Where The River Brought Me is the tale of a drifter, down on his luck searching for his calling in a great unsettled section of the country. Companionship is difficult for him, but it is what he desires most. In the end, his best friend is a stray dog, not unlike himself.

Mutt is the other side of the previous story as told from the dog’s perspective, where all of the cares in the world are just about finding creature comforts. And maybe a slightly deeper meaning for existence.

Train From Toyah (To Nowhere) is a story told without words. Toyah, Texas started as a trading post for the local ranchers in the late 1800’s and grew into a small township. It increased in size and prosperity with the arrival of the Missouri-Pacific train line. Soon after the depression the town began to diminish and over time all but disappeared. What remains are a few sun baked structures, a graveyard and a lot of ghosts.

In the early twentieth century the Permian Basin oilfield was beginning to become a huge source of money for a lot of people. By the mid-nineteen-sixties the towns of Midland and Odessa had almost grown into a single city. Although they were geographically united, the two towns were culturally divided. Where Midland became the headquarters of the West Texas oil industry and its white-collar workforce, Odessa was where the roughnecks lived and partied on the money they made in the oil fields. Running north and south nearly midway between the two towns is county road 1788, also known as Telephone Road.

In the Texas Panhandle, dry land cotton farming was the industry of choice for many families. It was a gamble every time they planted a crop. If they won the stakes were huge, but the odds weren’t in their favor. Win or lose, cotton farming was endless work and The Cotton Farmer’s Wife was often neglected during the week’s work. Thankfully there were a few musicians that travelled through the area bringing their songs to people desperate for a little deviation from the toils of the farm. For many farmer’s wives, Saturday night was the one night they could count on being the center of their husband’s attention.