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Grammy-award winner and six-time Grammy nominee, Peter Rowan is a bluegrass singer-songwriter with a career spanning over five decades. From his early years playing under the tutelage of bluegrass patriarch Bill Monroe, and following his stint in Old & In the Way with Jerry Garcia and subsequent breakout as both a solo performer and bandleader, Rowan has built a devoted, international fan base through his continuous stream of original recordings, collaborative projects, and constant touring.
Rowan began his professional career in 1964 as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys, living in Nashville and playing with Monroe on the Grand Ole Opry every week. "One thing I liked 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." Rowan stayed with Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys, touring constantly both in the United States and in England, for two and a half years." We went from old-timey places way down south to the colleges up north, we played to all ages, long-time fans of Bluegrass and the college kids my own age."
The late '60s and early 70's saw Rowan collaborating with musical compatriots in a number of rock, folk and bluegrass combinations: Earth Opera with David Grisman, Sea Train with fiddler Richard Greene (himself a graduate of Monroe's band) Muleskinner with both Grisman and Greene, former Bluegrass Boy banjoist Bill Keith and the great Clarence White. From the ashes of Muleskinner, Rowan and Grisman went on to join Jerry Garcia, Vassar Clements, and John Kahn, forming the legendary bluegrass band Old & In the Way. It was during this time that Rowan penned the song "Panama Red," a subsequent hit for the New Riders of the Purple Sage and a classic ever since. Other time-honored compositions by Rowan include " Moonlight Midnight", " In The Land of the Navajo" and "Lonesome L.A. Cowboy”. Jerry Garcia himself recorded Rowan's "Moonlight Midnight" and the haunting "Mississippi Moon". The 1970’s also saw Peter Rowan playing and recording alongside brothers Chris and Lorin Rowan as the The Rowan Brothers. Their three albums for Elektra-Asylum featured original songs highlighted by the three siblings soaring harmonies.
Rowan subsequently embarked on a well-received solo career in 1978, releasing such critically acclaimed records as Dustbowl Children (a Woody Guthrie style song cycle about humanity's spirituality in relationship to the earth), Yonder (a record of old-time country songs and Rowan originals 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 old-time cowboy songs with Don Edwards and guitarist Norman Blake. Rowan's recent releases- Reggaebilly, a wonderful blend of reggae and bluegrass and Quartet, a recording with the phenomenal Tony Rice, coupled with a relentless touring schedule have further endeared Peter Rowan to audiences around the world.
On the road, Rowan performs internationally as a solo singer-songwriter, while stateside he plays in three bands: the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, a quartet featuring Jody Stecher, Keith Little, and Paul Knight; The Peter Rowan & Tony Rice Quartet; and his rocking 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 Michael Witcher, dobro; Keith Little, banjo; and Paul Knight, bass. 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.
In September 2010, the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band released their debut album for Nashville’s Compass Records- Legacy; the new album, featuring traditional and original compositions, was produced by Compass owner/recording artist Alison Brown and includes Ricky Skaggs, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings and Del McCoury and received a Grammy nomination in 2010.