PETER ROWAN BLUEGRASS BAND
Peter Rowan is about as close as one can get to the origins of bluegrass. He showed up in Nashville in 1965 as a fresh-faced lad of 23 and became the lead vocalist in founder Bill Monroe’s band. He also apprenticed himself to Monroe, learned a few things abut flat-picking, and embarked on a career that did his mentor proud. Rowan’s also played folk music, some psychedelic electric guitar, Tex-Mex, and a few other things, but his stock-and-trade has always been Appalachian music, especially mountain gospel. Autumn is a good time to feel spiritual about the great outdoors and a person could do worse than to load Legacy on the old MP3 player, head for the colorful groves, and harmonize to “God’s Own Child” and “Let Me Walk Lord By Your Side.” Like all the best bluegrass, though, there’s lot of pain to balance the wholesomeness. “Jailer, Jailer” is a bad boy’s plea that we might as well “throw away the key” because reform ain’t in the offing, “The Family Demon” reminds us that not all families are the Waltons, and “Turn the Other Cheek” that there are some things forgiveness won’t solve. Rowan’s voice is dry as dust, but with emotive catches. A song like “So Good” could have easily fit in the repertoire of the Jerry Garcia’s Old and in the Wayd—an outfit with which Rowan logged some time. This is a fine, fine album and Rowan enlists topnotch talent to help him out: Jody Steicher, Keith Little, Paul Knight and guests as luminous as Del McCoury, Ricky Skaggs, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, and Tim O’Brien. Bow get yourself into the hills and contemplate your place in the Grand Order.