Kurt Ozan - Luke Combs
^ Photos: David Bergman
Nashville based multi-instrumentalist Kurt Ozan is a highly sought-after studio musician and currently out on the road supporting country music sensation Luke Combs. Kurt has collaborated with a wide variety of artists throughout his career including Michael Ray and Jana Kramer. Outside of his musical exploits, he is an accomplished photographer, his published images have graced magazines, album covers, and advertisements. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Kurt is currently working towards his Master’s in guitar performance at Belmont University.
FIVE MINUTES WITH KURT OZAN
PRS: Congratulations on Luke Combs’ recent Entertainer of the Year award at the 2021 CMAs. How long have you been with Luke and how did you initially land the gig?
KO: Luke and I met before he even moved to Nashville back around 2014. My buddy and current band mate Rob Williford asked me if I was interested on playing an acoustic gig with Luke and told me he was amazing and was going to be famous. I guess Rob was right. We became friends after that and stayed in touch. Luke’s career was just getting started while I was touring nationally with other acts and eventually Luke got to the point where he could afford another band member and hired me on right before his first single went number 1 in May of 2017.
PRS: Your primary go-to guitars are your DGT and McCarty 594… why PRS?
KO: I play in a lot of weird tunings and switch between slide and regular playing styles and needed guitars that would be consistent on stage every night and hold their tune well. Also it’s hard to beat the look of a gold top DGT!
PRS: Historically, who would you say have been the biggest influences on your playing?
KO: I grew up a rock and blues player so bands like Metallica, Led Zeppelin, and SRV were what got me really into playing guitar. As I got older, I discovered bluegrass and fell in love with the playing of Doc Watson, Tony Rice, and Jerry Douglas. I also love Kurt Rosenwinkel, Lionel Loueke, and Bill Frisell.
PRS: In addition to being a touring musician, you are also a published photographer. Is that a passion you are typically able to pursue while out on the road? What are your favorite things to photograph?
KO: Photography has been a great passion of mine since 2019 and it really helps kill time on the road and allows me to document my crazy tour life. I love shooting other bands we tour with and have gotten to shoot some great acts like John Mayer and Willie Nelson. Playing for Luke has given me access that most photographers don’t get so I am lucky in that regard. Besides concert photography I really enjoy portraiture and product photography.
PRS: Looking ahead towards the future, what are your plans for the new year?
KO: Well so far 2022 is looking like it’s going be a huge year for Luke’s career and I feel extremely lucky to be a long for the ride. We are playing Europe, headlining festivals in the US, and doing our first ever stadium tour.