Peter Rowan – Legacy

The new Peter Rowan album showed up on my desk today. Something that always makes me perk up. Peter and I have history. His self titled 1978 album was a favorite of mine while desert driving  through New Mexico. A few years later when I moved north to Seattle he and Jerry Douglas put out “Yonder”, which might be the main reason I made it through that first gray winter. So, when I saw the new album I smiled as if seeing an old friend and picked it up.

Now, all familiarity aside, Peter Rowan comes from a stock of musician that is rarely made anymore. This is what he does, and who he is. Some of his earliest picking was as a boy with the Lily Brothers in Cambridge and as a young man with Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys. After that it’s hard to imagine Rowan could have done anything else other than play music. He has played with everyone too. Hippie Bluegrass excursions with Jerry Garcia and David Grisman, cowboy covers with Norman Blake and Don Edwards, and hard bluegrass country bands like Muleskinner with Clarence White and Bill Keith.

Rowan in some ways is the hillbilly equivalent of Miles Davis. Steeped in the traditions of his music and joining or being joined by the most extraordinary pickers and then bending, twisting and reshaping the traditional songs at will, as well as adding originals that are now canonical.

So, here’s the new album. I’m expecting big things. I crack it open to see who’s playing with him and … holy shit. The core is made up of Keith Little, Paul Knight, and Jody Stecher. Additionally, Alison Brown, Del McCoury, Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings, and Ricky Skaggs joins him on various tracks. What we get is finely crafted bluegrass music. The very best. Cool water from a deep well. If you’re new to this type of music listen to this album and then look up the albums by every contributor listed and listen to their albums. You’ll get the full spectrum of what it is to have been country and alive in the 20th century and a guide to how to be (and play music) in the 21st.


About Iaan Hughes

Iaan Hughes is a deejay on 91.3 KBCS in Seattle. He plays country & western music.
This entry was posted in Bluegrass, Country, Folk, Honky Tonk, Music, Oldtime, Radio and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Peter Rowan – Legacy

  1. carol westlake says:

    We just got back from Beavergrass where we saw the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band sing most of the songs from the CD. In fact, we got the CD before the stores did. Jody Stecker said we were the first to purchase them.
    At the workshop in the afternoon, the band discussed making the CD and give an interesting background of these songs.
    the concert was amazing. Peter still has an amazing ability to read his audience. When someone screamed “Peter we love you”, he smiled and said, “I love you too!” I am still in awe of that night in Covallis with a full moon and Peter singing like an angel.

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