Peter Rowan discusses Legacy

This post is a contribution from David Morris, one of our 2010 IBMA correspondents. Photos for this post are from Roy Swann.

After five decades in the music business, Peter Rowan doesn’t feel at all like he’s old and in the way. Instead, he said the feeling he gets from playing with current bandmates Keith Little, Jody Stecher and Paul Knight reminds him of working with the late Jerry Garcia in Old & In The Way because “they were so willing to support my ideas.”

Indeed, at a point when many musicians with Rowan’s resume and tenure are keeping schedules that are light on appearances and heavy with recycled material, Rowan said writing material for his new Legacy recording and performing those songs in support of the project have rejuvenated him. “It’s sort of miraculous when you finish a song,” Rowan said in an interview with Bluegrass Today. “I think that’s what keeps me strong.”

Rowan had just come from playing on a radio show that included a surprise drop-in by Tex Logan. But while his publicist was excited about Logan’s appearance, Rowan was more inclined to share another development from that radio performance. “Even today, I found some new ways to play some chords,” he gushed.

There is a laconic feel to much of Legacy, but Rowan is not apologetic. “A lot of my material is in a real slow mood,” he said, adding that In the Pines is a touchstone for his writing. He cited Carter Stanley as one of his chief songwriting influences because “he really tried to tell it like it is.”

Rowan knows that reality extends beyond the songs and will determine how long he gets to play this batch on the road. “We’ll see how the record does,” he said. “If it gets popular, hey, we’ll be out there.” If not, he would start searching for material for the next project. “Hey,” he said to me, “I wanna hear your songs, man.”

[Editor’s note] Here is a video of the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band performing a song from Legacy (Jailer, Jailer) on the Music City Roots radio show last month.

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About the Author

David Morris

David Morris, an award-winning songwriter and journalist, has written for Bluegrass Today since its inception. He joined its predecessor, The Bluegrass Blog, in 2010. His 40-year career in journalism included more than 13 years with The Associated Press, a stint as chief White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, and several top editing jobs in Washington, D.C. He is a life member of IBMA and the DC Bluegrass Union. He and co-writers won the bluegrass category in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in 2015.