The Healing Power of Music: An Interview with Red Beard, the Street Musician

In the fascinating interview titled “The Healing Power of Music: An Interview with Red Beard, the Street Musician,” Soft White Underbelly sits down with Joshua Owen, also known as Red Beard, to discuss his life and his journey as a musician. Growing up in San Diego and Texas, Red Beard faced difficulties at home after the death of his mother, leading to placement in various institutions and group homes. However, with his father’s gift of a guitar, he discovered his love for music and began performing at open mics. Music became a coping mechanism for Red Beard, helping him heal from past experiences and navigate the challenges of life.

Through the interview, Red Beard candidly discusses his struggles with addiction, his time in prison, and the dangerous group he became involved with. However, he also shares his dedication to self-improvement through fitness and education. Red Beard emphasizes his regrets for the harm caused to others during his addiction and his desire for a better future for his children and grandchildren. The interview concludes with a captivating music performance, showcasing Red Beard’s talent and the power of music to heal and connect people.

Background and Early Life

Growing up in San Diego and Texas

You grew up in both San Diego, California and Texas. However, your childhood was far from idyllic. After your mother’s death when you were only eight years old, your life took a turn for the worse.

Difficulties at home after his mother’s death

Following your mother’s passing, you ended up living with your father and his new family. Unfortunately, your relationship with your stepmother and stepsiblings was strained, and they took their anger towards your father out on you. The marriage eventually fell apart, leading your father to face difficult times. Unable to care for you, he allowed the state to take you into their custody. This marked the beginning of a series of placements in institutions and group homes.

Placement in institutions and group homes

Your time in various institutions and group homes was marked with both positive and negative experiences. While some of these environments were challenging and less than ideal, there were moments of respite and kindness from the staff and other residents. However, you eventually reached a breaking point and decided to run away during 8th grade.

Running away in 8th grade

In 8th grade, you made the courageous decision to run away from your troubled circumstances. Leaving behind the institutions and group homes, you sought a new life and a greater sense of freedom. You decided to make your way to Austin, Texas, where music would come to shape your future.

Discovering Music

Receiving a guitar from his father

Before delving into the details of your musical journey, it’s important to acknowledge the significant role your father played in your life. On your 14th birthday, your father gave you a guitar, a thoughtful gift that would change the course of your life forever. This guitar sparked a passion within you and opened the door to a world of possibilities.

Starting to play music and perform at open mics

With your newfound instrument, you began exploring music and experimenting with different genres and playing styles. Your father, who had a knack for poetry, ran an open mic night at a place called Chicago House in Austin. Inspired by his love for the arts, you started joining him at these open mics, gradually gaining confidence in your musical abilities.

Using music as a coping mechanism and healing tool

Over time, you discovered that music had a transformative power, allowing you to cope with the challenges you faced and heal from past wounds. Music became an outlet for your emotions, enabling you to express yourself in ways that words alone could not capture. It became an essential tool for self-expression and personal growth.

Influence of musical idols on his drug use

Unfortunately, the influence of your musical idols had unintended consequences. Many of the musicians you admired struggled with addiction, and you, too, succumbed to the allure of drugs. Starting with experimentation in high school and progressing to heroin in your later years, you found yourself caught in the grip of addiction.

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The Healing Power of Music: An Interview with Red Beard, the Street Musician

Struggles and Redemption

Time spent in prison

Eventually, your drug use and involvement in dangerous activities caught up with you, leading to a prison sentence. You were charged with burglary, residential burglary, possession of burglary tools, and possession of a weapon. Although the charges were not entirely accurate, the severity of the sentence left you serving six years, with an 85% mandatory minimum.

Involvement in a dangerous group

During your time in prison, your tattoo work caught the attention of others, leading them to believe you were a part of a dangerous group. As a result, you were involuntarily absorbed into this group, forcing you to follow orders and participate in activities you wouldn’t have otherwise chosen.

Focusing on self-improvement through fitness and education

Determined to turn your life around, you made a conscious decision to use your time in prison for self-improvement. You focused on fitness, weightlifting, and education. In addition to working out, you obtained your GED while behind bars. Upon your release, you further pursued education by enrolling in culinary arts classes, learning to become a chef.

Living in the Tenderloin District

Challenges and dangers of the neighborhood

Currently, you reside in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. Living in this neighborhood presents its own unique set of challenges and dangers. Known for its high crime rates and drug-related activities, the Tenderloin demands constant vigilance and resilience.

Dealing with the realities of the Tenderloin

Every day, you navigate the realities of the Tenderloin, striving to create a safe and stable life for yourself. Despite the hardships and negative aspects of the neighborhood, you find solace and purpose in your music and the connections you make with others who share similar struggles.

The Healing Power of Music: An Interview with Red Beard, the Street Musician

Regrets and Reflection

Regretting the harm caused to others due to addiction

Looking back on your life, you acknowledge the pain and harm your addiction caused not only to yourself but also to those around you. Addiction can be a destructive force, leaving a trail of damaged relationships and shattered aspirations. You express sincere regret for the impact your choices had on others.

Desire to apologize and make amends

In light of the harm you caused, you carry a deep desire to make amends and apologize to those affected by your actions. Recognizing the importance of taking responsibility for your past, you long for the opportunity to seek forgiveness and rebuild bridges with those you have hurt.

Self-Awareness and Strength

Clarity about his identity

Through your life’s journey, you have gained a significant amount of self-awareness. Despite the misunderstandings and challenges you have faced, you have come to a place where you have a clear understanding of who you are at your core. This self-awareness helps guide your actions and interactions with others.

Admitting when he’s wrong

One of the strengths you possess is your ability to admit when you are wrong. Rather than staying stuck in pride or denial, you are willing to take accountability for your mistakes and learn from them. This humility fosters personal growth and the opportunity for positive change.

Building strength and resilience

Your experiences have forged a remarkable strength and resilience within you. From overcoming childhood difficulties to navigating addiction and prison, you have developed an unwavering determination to persevere. You have managed to rebuild your life, one step at a time, and continue to demonstrate resilience in the face of adversity.

The Healing Power of Music: An Interview with Red Beard, the Street Musician

Concerns for the Future

Fear of political and societal issues

You express genuine concerns about the current political and societal landscape. The uncertainty of the future and the potential consequences of unrest weigh heavily on your mind. The fear of escalating societal issues keeps you on guard and pushes you to remain vigilant in protecting your loved ones.

Potential disastrous consequences for future generations

Linked to your concerns about the state of society, you worry about the potential disastrous consequences that future generations may face. The choices made today directly impact the world that will be inherited by your children and grandchildren. This awareness fuels your determination to fight for a better future.

Hope for the Future

Desire for a better future for his children and grandchildren

Amidst the fears and uncertainties, you hold a strong desire for a better future for your children and grandchildren. You hope to provide them with the opportunities and stability that eluded you in your formative years. Your experiences have shaped your aspirations, and you strive to create a world where they can flourish.

Optimism amidst challenges

Despite the challenges you face on a daily basis, you maintain an optimistic outlook. You understand that life is filled with obstacles, but your experiences have taught you the importance of resilience and perseverance. You make a conscious choice to find joy in the present moment and believe in the potential for positive change.


Closing thoughts and reflections

In reflecting on your life’s journey, you share how music, personal growth, and resilience have shaped your path. You acknowledge the mistakes you have made, express regret for the harm caused, and strive to make amends. Through self-awareness and strength, you have rebuilt your life and found hope for the future.

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Final music performance

To conclude the interview, you share a final music performance, allowing your music to speak for itself. This performance showcases the power of music to heal, inspire, and connect people from all walks of life.

Note: The content above is an article based on the provided outline and context. It focuses on the life story of Red Beard, describing their background, struggles, redemption, and hopes for the future.

Soft White Underbelly did an interview and portrait of Red Beard, also known as Joshua Owen, the street musician in the Tenderloin in San Francisco. You can listen to Joshua’s music on his YouTube channel: Joshua Owen’s Music.

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