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Peter Rowan

A major cult figure among progressive bluegrass aficionados, Peter Rowan participated in a number of adventurous projects in the late '60s and '70s before embarking on a highly productive solo career. Primarily a guitarist, Rowan also sang, yodeled, and played various members of the mandolin family. He was born in 1942 and grew up in Wayland, Massachusetts, near Boston; his parents and several relatives were musicians, and he and his brothers Chris and Lorin grew up playing both rock and bluegrass together.

Rowan also formed a Tex-Mex band called the Cupids in high school, and after college he sang and played mandolin in the folk group the Mother Bay State Entertainers, whom he joined in 1963. He also played with Jim Rooney and Bill Keith, and in 1964 he joined Bill Monroe's legendary Blue Grass Boys as a vocalist and guitarist. He departed in 1967 to team up with mandolin virtuoso David Grisman in the eclectic, progressive-minded folk-rock band Earth Opera, who released two albums and often opened for the Doors. Rowan next moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and joined Seatrain, a bluegrass/rock hybrid outfit. He appeared on two albums over 1970-1971, then left to play with Jerry Garcia and Grisman in the bluegrass group Old & in the Way, also joining Grisman in Muleskinner.

In 1975, Rowan teamed with his brothers Chris and Lorin in the progressive bluegrass unit the Rowans, who released several acclaimed albums over the next few years. Rowan also performed with Flaco Jimenez in Mexican Airforce and issued his first two solo albums -- 1978's Peter Rowan and 1980's Medicine Trail -- on Flying Fish. He issued the Tex-Mex project Texican Badman on Appaloosa in 1981 as well as an album with his Nashville-based group, the Wild Stallions. The year 1982 brought The Walls of Time, the first in a long string of albums for the Sugar Hill label that lasted well into the '90s.

Among the more notable, 1985's The First Whippoorwill was an affectionate tribute to Monroe, while 1988's New Moon Rising became the signature album of Rowan's solo career, featuring some of his most popular material. Released in 1990, Dust Bowl Children was a completely solo performance, while 1991's All on a Rising Day continued his creative hot streak. Several more albums followed through 1996, including one, 1994's Tree on a Hill, that reunited him with Chris and Lorin; another, 1996's Yonder, paired him with Dobro king Jerry Douglas for a set of duets.

Rowan took a break from his solo career for a few years but continued to guest on albums by other artists, including the Czech folk group Druha Trava. He returned in 2002 with High Lonesome Cowboy, a collaborative effort with Don Edwards for Shanachie that also featured Tony Rice and Norman Blake. In 2004 Rowan released You Were There for Me, a long overdue collaboration with Tony Rice that resulted in another album in 2007 called Quartet.

The Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band issued the Alison Brown-produced Legacy in 2010 with a quartet comprising Jody Stetcher, Paul Knight, and Keith Little. Its guests included Ricky Skaggs, Del McCoury, Gillian Welch, and David Rawlings. Old School, issued in 2013, brought together surviving members of Monroe's Blue Grass Boys with a new generation of players who followed in the footsteps of that tradition. It was followed later in the year by a raw compilation of Rowan's Trang & Groove, a reggae, R&B, and bluegrass fusion project.

Back in 2006, producer John Chelew happened by Rowan's painting studio and heard him play some some spiritually themed songs he'd performed live but had never recorded. The producer booked time at the Record Plant in Sausalito and Rowan and his band began laying down some of the songs. Further recording was done in Los Angeles and New Orleans, with a slew of guests including bassist Jack Casady and Welch. The album was issued as Dharma Blues by Elk Run through Omnivore Recordings in the summer of 2014. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Peter Rowan's Twang An' Groove

1. Leave It Alone (Live At Antone's)

2. The Raven (Live At Antone's)

3. Moonlight Midnight (Live At Purple Bee)

4. In The Pines (Live At Purple Bee)

5. Fetch Wood Carry Water (Live At Purple Bee)

6. Muleskinner Boogie (Live At Purple Bee)

7. Pulling The Devil By The Tail (Live At Purple Bee)

8. Land Of The Navajo (Live At Purple Bee)

x

Track List: The Old School

1. Keepin' It Between The Lines

2. That's All She Wrote

3. True Love To Last

4. Ragged Old Dream

5. Doc Watson Morning

6. Drop The Bone

7. Letter From Beyond

8. Stealin' Time

9. Mountain Man's Dream

10. My Savior Is Callin' Me

11. O Freedom

x

Track List: Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band Legacy

1. Jailer Jailer

2. The Family Demon

3. Father Mother

4. The Raven

5. So Good

6. The Night Prayer

7. Catfish Blues

8. Turn The Other Cheek

9. God's Own Children

10. Don't Ask Me Why

11. Let Me Walk Lord By Your Side

12. Lord Hamilton's Yearling

13. Across The Rolling Hills

x

Track List: Crucial Country

1. Deal With The Devil

2. Howlin' At The Moon

3. The Walls Of Time

4. Tumbleweed

5. Panama Red

6. Rainmaker

7. Wings Of Horses

8. No Woman No Cry

9. Land Of The Navajo

10. Ancient Tones

x

Track List: First Whippoorwill

1. I'm On My Way Back To The Old Home

2. I'm Just A Used To Be

3. I Believed In You Darling

4. Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong

5. When The Golden Leaves Begin To Fall

6. I Was Left On The Street

7. Goodbye Old Pal

8. When You Are Lonely

9. The First Whippoorwill

10. Sittin' Alone In The Moonlight

11. Boat Of Love

12. It's Mighty Dark To Travel

x

Track List: Walls Of Time

2. Lone Pilgrim

3. Raglan Road (Dawning Of The Day)

4. Going Up On The Mountain

5. Casey's Last Ride

6. Old, Old House

7. Hiroshima Mon Amour

8. Willow Garden

9. The Moonshiner

10. Thirsty In The Rain

11. Walls Of Time

12. Plains Of Waterloo

x

Track List: Peter Rowan

1. Outlaw Love

2. Break My Heart Again

3. A Woman In Love

4. When I Was A Cowboy (Live)

5. Land Of The Navajo

6. The Free Mexican Airforce

7. Panama Red (Live)

8. Midnite Moonlite

9. The Gypsy King's Farewell

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Lucky me we get to see him in Stevenson Washington this Saturday at the Columbia Gorge bluegrass festival...y e s and eat BBQ....looki n forward
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tbrennen1001
Awesome
Report as inappropriate
Awesome tune!!
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Wow what a Treat this song is!! Man this makes want to live at a Bluegrass Festival (T-Ride).!!! ! × & * £ £ _
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Music to eat B-B-Q to.Love it!!!!!
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Can't wait for tomorrow at sportsmens.
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Yes yes Wed the 28th of May at the Sporstmens Tavern Buffalo. Bring it Pete bring it my brother whew.
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West Verigine the best I have heard love it good to hear.
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ALWAYS GREAT TO HEAR MY COUSIN ON THE RADIO! BOB
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I'm new but this is great. Thank you!
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lrutledge471 1
good to hear
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Howard Kirkland's comment (02-13-2011) c a p t u r e s what I think is the most important and impressive bit of Rowan's work: range of musical styles. This man has indeed mastered a handful of musical styles, going from traditional bluegrass to spaced out reggae infused jamgrass type $hit. The guy is a monster. I saw him at Dunegrass Music Festival in Empire, MI in 2008 and was completely blown away.
Report as inappropriate
goldn12001
LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!
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Bad a**
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va1canoe
The sheer power, range and beauty of Peter's voice is equaled only by the breadth and range of his musical styles. From rock to jazz to folk to reggae to bluegrass, he explores and masters every genre that his curiosity and vast intellect leads him to. I've been privileged to see and hear him perform in numerous venues, and he's always a crowd pleaser. His gentle smile, his twinlking eye, his innate good humor, and the passion that infuses his music; they all blend together to draw his listeners
Report as inappropriate
Listen. To the mainstream, we "progressive bluegrass aficionados" definitely ARE a cult! So it follows that Pete would be a major cult figure to them. To us, he's the venerable, legendary, innovative, genius Pete! And the rest of his stellar material is in our heads and in the ethers of forests where the festivals he's played have been! Where the music belongs! PEACE
Report as inappropriate
What a freakin insult to this great great artist. Where is the rest of his stelar material.
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jlewis3856
saw him @ merlefest... h e was great
Report as inappropriate
jake2594
what a guy I wouldn't call him 'cult figure'

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