Peter Rowan w/ The Black Lillies
: Nashville Sunday Night presented by Lightning 100 & Yuengling
Sunday, Jan 13, 2013 8:00 PM CST
(6:00 PM Doors)
3rd and Lindsley, Nashville, TN
Peter Rowan was one of the major cult bluegrass artists of the '80s, winning a devoted, international fan base through his independent records and constant touring. A skilled singer/songwriter, Rowan also yodeled, and played numerous stringed instruments and the saxophone. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts; his parents and many of his relatives were musicians, and it seemed only natural that Rowan too would become one. When he was a teenager, he frequently hung out at the Hillbilly Ranch, where he heard such bluegrass and old-time bands as the Lilly Brothers. He also enjoyed listening to the blues.
Rowan formed the Tex-Mex band the Cupids while he was in high school. The group became a popular New England attraction and independently released a single. After college, he decided to become a professional musician, and in 1963 joined the Cambridge-based Mother Bay State Entertainers as a mandolin player and singer, appearing on their LP The String Band Project. In 1964, after performing with Jim Rooney and Bill Keith, Rowan became a rhythm guitarist and lead singer with Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys. He remained with them through 1967, leaving to join mandolinist David Grisman in the folk-rock band Earth Opera. The group recorded a couple of albums and toured (frequently opening for the Doors) until the early '70s. One of their albums, The Great Eagle Tragedy (1969) produced a minor hit single, "Home to You."
While with Monroe and Earth Opera, Rowan had begun to write and co-write songs, some of which were used in both bands. After leaving Earth Opera, he became a part of Seatrain, a rock-fusion unit whose records were produced by George Martin. Rowan left the band in 1972 to form the Rowan Brothers with siblings Chris and Lorin, and recorded one eponymous album. After the group disbanded Rowan then recorded Old & in the Way with Grisman, Jerry Garcia, Vassar Clements and John Kahn. In 1974, Rowan, Grisman, Clarence White and Richard Greene formed Muleskinner, a bluegrass band. Muleskinner released one album and then disbanded. He then reunited the Rowan Brothers, who this time played together until the early '80s. Meanwhile, Rowan also began playing rock and bluegrass with Mexican Airforce, which featured accordion player Flaco Jimenez. In the mid- '80s, he and Jiminez again reteamed to record Flaco Jiminez and Peter Rowan: Live Rockin' Tex-Mex. He founded the Nashville-based Wild Stallions in 1983, and throughout the '80s and '90s continued to work with a variety of musicians and tour as a solo act.
- Sandra Brennan, Pollstar