Grammy-award winning singleer/songwriter/guitarist Peter Rowan has been a well-known figure in bluegrass and roots music circles since his early days as lead singer and rhythm guitarist for Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys, in the mid 1960’s. Rowan’s impressive musical resume also includes stints with fellow Monroe alumni Richard Greene (fiddle) and Bill Keith (banjo), along with David Grisman (mandolin) and the incomparable Clarence White (guitar) in the short-lived super-group Muleskinner, as well as time served with Greene in Sea Train, Grisman in Earth Opera, Grisman, Jerry Garcia (banjo), Vassar Clements (fiddle), and John Kahn (bass) in the now-legendary Old & in the Way, and Flaco Jimenez (accordion) and Tex Logan (fiddle), in The Free Mexican Airforce. Rowan has also recorded and toured with brothers Chris and Lorin, in the Rowan Brothers, and has collaborated with the likes of guitarists Tony Rice and Norman Blake, dobro great Jerry Douglas, and cowboy revisionist Don Edwards. As a decorated songwriter, Rowan has penned such oft-covered classics as, “Panama Red,” “Midnight Moonlight,” “Mississippi Moon,” and “Lonesome L.A. Cowboy,” just to name a few. Rowan returns to the spotlight, on September 7, with Legacy, the debut release from his newly-established Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, a quartet that features Rowan with Grammy-nominated mandolinist/vocalist Jody Stecher, banjoist/vocalist Keith Little (Country Gentlemen, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Dolly Parton, et. al.), and acoustic bassist/vocalist Paul Knight (Jim Lauderdale, Laurie Lewis, Crooked Jades, et al.).
Legacy marks the first time in Rowan’s career that he has recorded with a bluegrass band under the auspices of his own name. Signed to Compass Records, the band’s debut was produced by label boss/recording artist Alison Brown. The result is an impressive collection of thirteen tracks that blend strong new Rowan compositions with a few choice traditional numbers. Ostensibly, the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band retreads the familiar roads and follows the same formula as Rowan’s early seventies outfit, Old & In the Way. Duly noted, the warm, tight harmonies of the new Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band improve upon the charming, but slightly looser harmonies of the original Old & In the Way.
Legacy highlights include Rowan’s gospel-tinged, ‘God’s Own Child,’ featuring contributions from bluegrass trailblazer Ricky Skaggs and fellow Bill Monroe alumnus Del McCoury, the haunting “The Raven,” the traditional-sounding opener, “Jailer, Jailer,” and the touching “Night Prayer.” Arguably, the catchiest track on Legacy is the infectious Rowan original, “So Good,” featuring background vocals from Americana darling, Gillian Welch, and guitar accompaniment from the multi-talented David Rawlings.
Rowan and company will spend the next few months touring heavily in support of Legacy.
They can be seen at myriad events and venues throughout both the United States and England, including a much-anticipated three-day stint at this year’s Richmond Folk Festival, in Richmond, VA.