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 My Aloha, also on Omnivore Records. Peter recorded and released two bluegrass records on Compass Records, both of which reverted back to him-Legacy and The Old School- before joining Rebel Records stellar bluegrass lineup.
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
Peter Rowan's bluegrass career started as a Blue Grass Boy in 1964. By Bill Monroe's own admission, Peter sounded a lot like him. When the two harmonized together, they were said to have reached "heavenly heights." Monroe & Rowan co-wrote what has already become a bluegrass standard, Walls Of Time. Peter's touring bluegrass band consists of outstanding players Eric Thorin, bass; Chris Henry, Mandolin/Vocals; Julian Pinelli, fiddle and Max Wareham, banjo/vocal. The band features original songs written by Rowan along with Carter Family and Bill Monroe favorites. This is a winning combination for an audience that knows and loves this music!
Peter Rowan's Big Twang Theory
Peter Rowan's newest musical configuration, Big Twang Theory, grew from his new songs and musical collaborations with dobroist Michael Witcher and bassist Paul Knight, both members of the current Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, electric guitarist Nina Gerber and Peter's son, guitarist-singer Michael Carter Rowan (Chartz). Drummers Larry Attamanuik (Alison Krauss, Emmy Lou Harris) Ken Owen (Ten Gallon Cats) and banjo player, Jeff Mosier (Mosier Bros, Blueground Undergrass) also appear with Peter Rowan's Big Twang Theory when their schedule permits. Says Rowan, "I have always wanted a band that was rooted in bluegrass, but could add the twang of Hank Williams, Carl Perkins and Buddy Holly. They all absorbed Bill Monroe's bluegrass into honky-tonk and rockabilly. I grew up dancing to that music."Peter Rowan's Twang an' Groove Comprised of Peter Rowan (electric guitar and vocals), fiddler Blaine Sprouse, bassist Mike Morgan and drummer extraordinaire Jamie Oldaker, Twang n' Groove is where Rhythm and Blues meets Reggae at an all day Bluegrass pickin' party.
Peter Rowan & Crucial Reggae
Peter Rowan's diversity and sensitivity shine through in this jammin' reggae configuration. Some of Peter's most soulful original music comes from these performances. Reggae greats Tony Chin; guitar and Fully Fullwood; bass, when available, add to the excitement of a Crucial Reggae performance. Buyers have the option here of presenting either a five- or six-piece band, or the nine-piece band with the Burning Spear horn section. Whatever the configuration, the audience that hears this concert will dance into the night!
The Free Mexican Airforce
The Free Mexican Airforce is flying again! This is a high-velocity group that features the Grammy award winning Los Texmaniacs- Max Baca, Josh Maturino, Noel Hernandez and Daniel Martinez.
This is Peter Rowan plugged in and includes some of his most loved songs--Come Back to Old Santa Fe, Ride the Wild Mustang, Midnight Moonlight and, of course, Free Mexican Airforce!
Peter Rowan | Guitar, Vocals
Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band:
Chris Henry | Madolin/vocals
Julien Pinelli | Fiddle
Max Wareham | Banjo/Vocal
Eric Thorin | Acoustic bass
Peter Rowan | Guitar, Vocals
The Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band has completed their second recordings for Rebel Records. The new album, featuring traditional and original compositions, features special guests Billy Strings and Molly Tuttle. The album will be released in 2022. Click here to buy Peter’s first Rebel release, Carter Stanley’s Eyes
Peter Rowan & The Free Mexican Airforce:
Peter Rowan | Guitar, Vocals
David Phillips // Cindy Cashdollar* | Steel Guitar
Chriss Kee // Viktor Krauss* | Bass
Patrick Corte // Larry Attamanuik* | Drums
Peter Rowan & Tony Rice Quartet:
Peter Rowan | Vocals, Guitar
Tony Rice | Lead Guitar
Bryn Davies | Vocals, Bass
Shannon Gilchrist | Vocals, Mandolin