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Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band
Legacy

Review By Steven Stone

 

  As a lead singer Peter Rowan has been the front man for bluegrass icons including Bill Monroe and Tony Rice. On Legacy he's still a front man, but he shares the spotlight with Jody Stecher, who's better known as an old-time player than a bluegrasser. The results are both a trip back to an era when bluegrass was still just a twinkle in Bill Monroe's eye and a fast-forward to a new acoustic paradigm.

Rowan's professional career began like Bill Monroe's, with a brother duo, The Rowan Brothers. He soon joined Monroe in the mid-60's, in a band that included other young Turks Bill Keith, Richard Green, and Del McCoury. After paying his bluegrass dues (including "losing" Bill's pre-war Martin D-28) he joined Greene in the progressive rock groups Earth Opera and Seatrain. After Seatrain Rowan collaborated with acoustic jazz pioneer David Grisman and Grateful Dead founder Jerry Garcia on several Old and In The Way albums. Since then Rowan's solo career has been a steady buffet of leading bands populated by some of the best musicians on the planet including Tony Rice, Charles Sawtelle, John Hartford, and John Duffey.

The four principal players on Legacy are Rowan, Stecher, Keith Little on banjo, and Paul Knight on bass, originally brought together by Knight for a one-shot gig. It worked, and Rowan thought, "This is really a fun kind of band; everyone knows so much, they know the roots." Legacy is very much a collaboration of equals. Although Rowan contributes eight original songs while Stecher only adds two, both share primary vocal duties. The results aren't slick like Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver or instrumentally pyrotechnic like the Punch Brothers. Instead Legacy captures the rustic and organic side of bluegrass, with the focus on emotion rather than perfection. "This is the sound for what the song says, for the way to say it."

 

 

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