The Wrong Omar (whose real name is Joey Shaheen) is an accomplished singer/songwriter and musician. He’s also a seasoned storyteller. Even his name, The Wrong Omar, has a story behind it.
“We spent most of the last several years in Elk River, Minnesota,” he says. “For some bizarre reason there were two inmates, both named Omar, at the Sherburne County Correctional Facility. One of them was up for parole, the other was not, and they let the wrong inmate free.”
While that’s not the first place something like that has happened, it was the newspaper headline that drew Shaheen’s attention. “The headline in the newspaper that week was “Wrong Omar Released from Jail, “he explains. He added,”It’s a unique name, if nothing else.”
Shaheen, or The Wrong Omar, has played music for most of his life. He began playing in bands in high school and college, and considered pursuing music at the time, but his life took a different course. “Instead of dropping out and enjoying the world then, I stayed in college, got my degree, got married, had four kids, raised them and continued to write and record in my basement. I was a closeted artist.”
Now, many years later, he has embarked on that career as a full-time singer/songwriter. Last year, accompanied by his wife and youngest son, he kicked off his first U.S. tour.
“We went down to Des Moines, Chicago, Missouri, all through Tennessee, down in New Orleans, through Dallas, Santa Fe, Tucson, Vegas, the West Coast, Montana, through all over,” he recalls. “It was sweet and character building and just a blast.”
His most recent tour, as he promotes the release, “Shoot Up The Town,” has included a number of stops in states like Tennessee and South Carolina. He has performed in a wide range of venues from small bars and restaurants to barn jams to Nashville’s legendary “Tootsies Orchid Lounge.” There have also been several TV appearances.
“You never know what it’s going to be, “he notes. “It continues to be fascinating.”
He describes his music as folk-rock, but says some people call it Americana now. He does well with a crowd and clearly enjoys live performances.
“I’m like a well-worn, but real comfortable favorite flannel shirt. I’ll come up and start slow on the piano with some soulful songs. Then I’ll pick up the guitar and start telling a few stories about love gone bad, raising kids, just life experience… good for older souls of all ages, I guess.”
He says he’s enjoying both the music and the journey.
“I want to play everything. I want the full experience, wherever it will lead.”
You can check out some of his music at: www.reverbnation.com/thewrongomar
The show in Louisville at the Rudyard Kipling at 422 West Oak Street is set for this Thursday night at 7:30pm.
Photos: Courtesy of The Wrong Omar