Grammy-award winner Peter Rowan is a singer-songwriter with a career spanning over five decades. From his early years playing under the tutelage of Bluegrass veteran Bill Monroe, to his time in Old & In the Way and his breakout as a solo musician and bandleader, Rowan has built a devoted, international fan base through a solid stream of recordings, collaborative projects, and constant touring.
Born in Wayland, Massachusetts to a musical family, Rowan learned to play guitar from his uncle. He spent his teenage years absorbing the sights and sounds of the Hillbilly Ranch, a legendary Country music nightclub in Boston frequented by old-time acts like The Lilly Brothers and Tex Logan. In 1956 Peter Rowan formed his first band, the Cupids, while still in high school.
After three years in college, Rowan left academia to pursue a life in music. Rowan began his professional career in 1963 as the singer, rhythm guitarist and songwriter for the Bluegrass Boys, led by the founding father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe. “One thing I started to like about the Monroe style was that there was a lot more blues in it than other styles of bluegrass,” reflects Rowan. “It was darker. It had more of an edge to it. And yet it still had the ballad tradition in it, and I loved that.”
The late ‘60s and early 70’s saw Rowan involved in a number of rock, folk and bluegrass projects, including Earth Opera, Sea Train, Muleskinner, and the Rowans, where he played alongside brothers Chris and Lorin Rowan. After the Rowan Brothers disbanded, Rowan, David Grisman, Jerry Garcia, Vassar Clements and John Kahn formed a bluegrass band christened Old & In the Way. It was during this incarnation that Rowan penned the song “Panama Red,” a subsequent hit for the New Riders of the Purple Sage and a classic ever since.
Rowan subsequently embarked on a well-received solo career in the late ‘70s, releasing critically acclaimed records such as Dustbowl Children (a Woody-Guthrie style song cycle about the Great Depression), Yonder (a record of old-time country music in collaboration with ace dobro player, Jerry Douglas) and two extraordinarily fine bluegrass albums, The First Whippoorwill and Bluegrass Boy, as well as High Lonesome Cowboy, a recording of traditional and old-time mountain music with Don Edwards and Norman Blake. Rowan’s recent releases- Quartet, a recording with the phenomenal Tony Rice and Legacy with the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, coupled with a relentless touring schedule have further endeared Peter Rowan to audiences around the world.
Following on the heels of the celebrated album “Crucial Country: Live at Telluride” Peter recorded his second album for Compass entitled “Old School” with memorable new songs such as “Doc Watson Morning” , “Drop The Bone” and “Keepin’ It Between The Lines (Old School)” with members of the current Bluegrass Band plus Chris Henry, Michael Cleveland, Bryan Sutton, Ronnie, Robbie and Del McCoury and more. Since then the prolific singer songwriter has recorded and released Peter Rowan’s Twang an Groove Vol. 1 (his electric band with drummer Jamie Oldacker and bassist Mike Morgan) on There Records, Dharma Blues (produced by John Chelew and including Jack Casady, Jody Stecker, Patrick Korte and Manose Singh performing songs of the Buddhaverse) on Omnivore Records and his newest, My Aloha, also on Omnivore Records.
Internationally, Rowan often performs as a solo singer-songwriter, while stateside, along with solo appearances, he plays in three bands: the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, a quintet featuring Keith Little, Chris Henry, Blaine Sprouse and Paul Knight; Big Twang Theory and its Texas Cousin Twang n Groove and rock band The Free Mexican Air Force.
Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band
The Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band consists of outstanding musicians with over 100 years of combined recording and performance experience. Joining guitarist Peter Rowan are Keith Little, banjo; Paul Knight, bass; Chris Henry, mandolin; and Blaine Sprouse, fiddle. The ensemble has graced the stages of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Grey Fox, Merlefest, Rothbury Australia’s National Folk Festival, and numerous other festivals domestically and abroad, entertaining audiences with original and traditional songs executed in vibrant harmony.
Peter Rowan released his latest bluegrass album "Carter Stanley's Eyes" in 2018; From the liner notes by Peter Wernick: "'Are you going to stick with it, son?' Carter Stanley asked Peter Rowan in 1965. Peter said: Yes sir. Over 50 years later, here he is with yet another new record. The same bluegrass spirit that burned so brightly alongside Bill Monroe is still a powerful energy source...remarkably more than 100 years after Bill's birth...Peter connects different times and places like no other bluegrass performer ever...For this album, he has drawn together some of the best and brightest of different generations of hardcore bluegrass 'hosses'." Get your copy of "Carter Stanley's Eyes" in the Merch tent today!