The Monroe Reels: Peter Rowan reconnects with his former colleague | Music

The Monroe Reels: Peter Rowan reconnects with his former colleague

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Chris Henry, Jim Lauderdale and Peter Rowan at the Monroe House in Raleigh. - PHOTO BY GABE NELSON
  • Photo by Gabe Nelson
  • Chris Henry, Jim Lauderdale and Peter Rowan at the Monroe House in Raleigh.
In our second installment of performances from Bill Monroe's former home in Raleigh, we met with onetime Bluegrass Boy Peter Rowan. Rowan was a part of Monroe's legendary backing group from 1964 until 1967 and was the first member to not hail from the South. His time with Monroe continues to influence his musical life. As Rowan arrived to the downtown Raleigh home during the 2013 World of Bluegrass festivities, he took a few minutes to sit on the porch alone.

After several moments, he looked up with a smile on his face and wondered aloud how many of Monroe's first recorded tunes were practiced in that very spot, a staggering question to ponder considering the impact those early recordings with brother Charlie Monroe had on the musical world. After a brief tour of the house, Rowan took a seat on the porch and began to play an ode to his mentor's former abode, "The Old, Old House." Its words were meaningful, and its delivery high, lonesome and haunting. We could have ended the afternoon after just the one song. But mandolinist Chris Henry arrived to join Rowan in honoring the sound of the Monroe Brothers and their famous two-part harmonies.

One of the first recordings the Monroe Brothers did in Charlotte during their day off from their radio program in Raleigh at WPTF was "Long Journey Home." Since then, it has been a staple in the catalog of nearly every bluegrass band. In Raleigh, Rowan and Henry ripped through their own version before continuing with another Monroe staple, the brooding "Midnight on the Stormy Deep." To round out the afternoon, North Carolina native Jim Lauderdale, a versatile singer-songwriter who crosses over into country, joined. The trio performed a pair of Monroe classics, "Sitting Alone in the Moonlight" and "In The Pines".

Peter Rowan will not be part of the IBMA lineup this year, though the excellent documentary The Tao of Bluegrass: A Portrait of Peter Rowan will be screened twice during the festival: Oct. 3 at 6:45 p.m., and Oct. 4 at 11:20 a.m., both in the Raleigh Convention Center's Kuykendall Room, No. 206. Chris Henry and his band Hardcore Grass will play twice: Sept. 30 at 11 p.m., in the downtown Marriott's Congressional Room and again late Wednesday evening after midnight in the Marriott's Alumni Room.

Peter Rowan, "The Old, Old House"


Peter Rowan and Chris Henry, "Long Journey Home"

Peter Rowan and Chris Henry, "Midnight on the Stormy Deep"

Peter Rowan, Jim Lauderdale and Chris Henry, "In the Pines"


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