by Brigid Walshe ’19 A&E Staff
Oliver Penn ’17 is making his way back to Providence College to perform at McPhail’s on April 12 at 9 p.m., and he has had quite the journey since leaving in 2017.
After graduating with a marketing degree, he worked for a non-profit in Houston while playing gigs after work and on the weekends. After a year, he decided to go all-in with his music, and he has been playing shows all over Texas, and beyond, since.
Still based in Texas, Penn says that the state has a lot of interesting musicians, venues, and arts communities that have welcomed him and allowed him to do what he loves. He has had many incredible opportunities, including the chance to open for Shinyribs to a sold-out crowd at the historic Gruene Hall, a venue that has welcomed artists from Willie Nelson to Garth Brooks to B.B. King. Music has led to amazing relationships for Penn as well, and seeing familiar faces at his shows has made his music that much more rewarding.
Now on the road with his most recent tour, Penn’s day-to-day life can be pretty hectic. His group spends a lot of time driving from one city to another. On the day of a show, they get together at their hotel, head to the venue for load-in and sound check a few hours before the show, have dinner, perform, pack up their van, and then do it all over again. Penn likes to play some of his favorite classics (“Pride and Joy” by Stevie Ray Vaughan) and original music (“Coupe DeVille” and “Hideaway”) during his show.
Penn is busy working on his new album. He has already finished his track list and is focusing on recording and finishing up the songs. He says his style is blues, and others call it rock ‘n’ roll, but his style reflects his biggest musical influences including Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jack White. His parents are to thank for his interest in music, as they signed him up for piano lessons when he was young. Soon after, his interest turned to the guitar and drums.
Penn is looking forward continuing to play his shows all over the country, recording new music, and building even more relationships through music. He is hoping to do more collaborations in the future—his dream collaboration would be with Kacey Musgraves, a fellow Texan.
As for coming back to campus, Penn loves getting to show his team around, including taking them to some of his favorite spots, like The Abbey and Papa Paulie’s, and catching up with old friends and former professors. Music was very much a part of his life when he was at PC, but once he returned to Texas, he had a clearer idea of where he wanted to take his music. Now, he is doing what he has always dreamed of and is enjoying every second of it.