by Dan Schram
At each performance Peter Rowan gives, someone will inevitably yell out for the hits—"Panama Red," "Free Mexican Airforce," "Midnight Moonlight." There is nothing particularly wrong with that. Many artists in their 70s, like Rowan, might just lean on their earlier work and be burdened by nothing but the hits.
But Rowan is not most artists. In fact, at 71, Rowan appears to be in the midst of an artistic renaissance, with his two most recent albums being as strong as any in his enormous discography. 2010's Legacy and 2013's The Old School show Rowan surrounded by both strong songwriting and a who's who of bluegrass pickers. They touch at the heart of what bluegrass music is or should be, but they’re expansive, too.
Aside from being a direct link to Bill Monroe and his own intriguing connection with one-time bandmate Jerry Garcia, Rowan has done a lot of very different work. He is a legend in the bluegrass world for what he has done and is doing. There isn’t much room for argument.
Back when Rowan visited Raleigh in July, we had the honor of having him record one of his newer songs for us. Being that we like to record both original songs, for our acoustic Simple Music Video Series, as well as tunes with North Carolina links, for our Carolina Covers series, he delivered both. From his latest release, The Old School, here is "Doc Watson Morning," a song to honor a fallen friend.
Rowan plays the Lincoln Theatre tonight at 10 p.m. and the Convention Center at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.