Peter Rowan celebrates #33 at 40th Telluride Bluegrass

Peter Rowan celebrates #33 at 40th Telluride Bluegrass

Peter Rowan, 2010 TBF photo by Clint Viebrock

Peter Rowan, 2010 TBF
photo by Clint Viebrock

He is a member of Telluride Bluegrass Festival‘s 30-something club, an elite fraternity that  includes “The King,” Sam Bush; dobro magician, Jerry Douglas; and Grammy winner Tim O’ Brien: Telluride Bluegrass veteran Peter Rowan.

Peter Rowan performs at the 40th annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival Friday, June 21, 3:45 p.m., in Peter Rowan’s Twang an’ Groove.

Here’s what Peter has to say about the group he showcases this year:

“The Texas Hill Country west of Austin has offered me a refuge from touring and the ‘road’ for more than twenty years now.  While recording and touring with my bluegrass band for Compass Records and with Tony Rice for Rounder Records, my time in Texas grew scarce, but I still found time to go “home’ and write songs there.  Songs I have written at home in Texas always needed a feel that is unique to those hills.  This is the sound of Twang an’ Groove.

“I began recording some of my new songs over at The Zone studios in Dripping Springs. Owner Mike Morgan opened the doors for me and booked me on a couple of Jerry Garcia Day concerts.  Mike has been very instrumental in finding local musicians for my recent shows around Austin. Mike plays bass with me now and has invited great players to join in the Twang an’ Groove experience!

“The great Texas rocker and song-writer, Doug Sahm, called Austin ‘Groove City,’ hence the Groove of Twang an’ Groove. I play electric guitar as well as Carter Arrington, piano player Darrell Commander expands the sound and superlative drummer Jamie Oldaker brings that Tulsa beat to our groove. I have admired Jamie’s  approach to the drums since his days with Eric Clapton and later, The Tractors.

“Twang an’ Groove is where Rhythm and Blues meets Reggae at  an all day Bluegrass pickin’ party. It is so much fun to be twangin’ and groovin’ with these guys,  my first full on rock and roll band since The Cupids, when I was 14, and later, the undaunted Seatrain.

“Music never stands still, always on the move, from bluegrass and blues, to Twang an’ Groove!”

Peter Rowan was hardwired to make music: Both his parents sang and played piano, and he learned guitar from an uncle and a grandfather. Rowan, however, had a special talent: a chameleon-like ability to meld together seemingly incompatible musical forms seamlessly.

Rowan’s career began in 1964, when the Boston-born Yank became the “Father of  Bluegrass” Bill Monroe’s lead singer and guitarist, touring Grand Ol’ Opry country and beyond with the legendary Bluegrass Boys. Years ago, Rowan told Telluride Inside…and Out Monroe taught him an indelible life lesson: never give up. And Rowan never has. Over a career spanning five decades, he persevered and grew, adapting the purity of Monroe’s string sound and refining the high lonesome to create his own unique, signature style.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Rowan’s ecumenical chops lent energy and freshness to the rock-folk-bluegrass combinations of David Grisman, Richard Greene (another Monroe graduate) and Clarence White. He joined Vassar Clements, Jerry Garcia and John Kahn to form Old & In the Way, playing bluegrass. During that time he penned the classic “Panama Red” and other time-honored hits.

Rowan’s solo career began in the late-1970s, when he also released a strong of acclaimed albums, including Reggaebilly, a blend of reggae and bluegrass, case in point to underline the elasticity of the man’s talent.

On the road, Rowan performs internationally as a solo singer-songwriter. In the States, he plays in several different bands: the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, a quartet; The Peter Rowan’s Big Twang Theory; Peter Rowan’s Crucial Reggae; The Free Mexican Air Force; and Twang an’ Groove.

A little known fact about the man whose life has been an open book: Peter Rowan is also a gifted fine artist, who hopes to leave his trace on the world with his “marks”: musical notes and paintings.

Want to learn more? Click the “play” button and listen to his podcast.

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