Music Scene: Peter Rowan, Todd Snider, Cowboy Mouth
By Matthew Godbey | Wednesday, June 13, 2012
If time proves talent, then Peter Rowan is a master of his trade. The 69-year-old Boston native began his career as a bluegrass musician and songwriter in 1963, and hasn’t stopped since.
Rowan was part of the first generation to be inspired by the sounds of Bill Monroe and The Stanley Brothers, two bluegrass acts that often are argued to be the genre’s originators, and has managed to stay relevant within the genre’s evolution by recording nearly 50 albums and continuing to tour extensively, even appearing at such festivals as Bonnaroo.
Rowan began his career as a guitarist, playing electric in the style of Elvis Presley and other rock acts of the times. He stumbled on bluegrass in college and eventually traveled to Nashville, Tenn., where he earned a spot with Bill Monroe’s band, the Bluegrass Boys, from 1965 to 1967.
In 1967, Rowan formed the psychedelic rock group Earth Opera with David Grisman, a group that frequently opened for The Doors before disbanding in 1969.
Rowan then returned to bluegrass and American roots music by forming several side projects, including the group Old and in the Way, which Rowan formed with Grisman, John Kahn, Jerry Garcia and former Bill Monroe fiddler Richard Greene.
Perhaps Rowan will share stories of his nearly 50-year career as he performs at The Pour House, 1977 Maybank Highway, on Friday with The Mosier Brothers. Tickets are $15 in advance, $17 the day of the show, and are available at the door or online at www.etix.com. Doors open at 9 p.m. Go to www.charlestonpourhouse.com or call 571-4343.
Todd Snider has spent nearly two decades making music that has never seemed to have a home.
It’s a collage of throwback inspiration from storyteller musicians such as Woody Guthrie and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott with a seemingly unfazed-by-the-modern type of innocence and humor that has made Snider such an endearing figure on today’s folk music stage. His performances are as much stand-up comedy bits as concerts.
Snider spent time as a youth living in Oregon, California and Texas before moving to Tennessee in pursuit of a music career, and the influence of each region can be heard in his songs.
While the songwriter’s eclectic combination of country, grunge and folk didn’t fit in with the traditional country music audience that dominated Nashville’s country scene in the ’90s, he found a niche market and loyal fan base that has carried his career the past 18 years.
Snider’s creative storytelling, everyman’s poeticism and potent melodies pushed through the stiff restrictions of what country music was supposed to sound like at the time and launched the nomadic singer to folk hero status with fans worldwide.
His 2006 album, “The Devil You Know,” reached Rolling Stone’s Top 50 Albums of the Year list and was rated the No. 14 album of the year by Blender Magazine.
His latest album, “Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables,” was released earlier this year and has reached the number 95 spot on the Billboard 200 chart, making it Snider’s most commercially successful record to date.
Snider will perform Wednesday at The Pour House, 1977 Maybank Highway, with Kevin Gordon. Tickets are $15 at the door or online at www.etix.com. Doors open at 8 p.m. Go to www.charlestonpourhouse.com or call 571-4343.
It’s not supposed to happen, not really. There are very few bands that survive. For the most part, bands break up after a few years, and it usually happens because of the road.
It’s a hard life to settle into. You’re always moving, you’re always tired, you’re usually broke and it begins to get more and more difficult to picture what your family looks like. The road, for all intents and purposes, breaks most bands.
So the idea that Cowboy Mouth is in its 22nd year of bringing its original concoction of New Orleans-spiced rock ’n’ roll to a global audience is difficult to comprehend. What’s even more astonishing is how well the band still does it.
Cowboy Mouth got its big break in 1996 following the release of its major label debut, “Are You With Me?” The album contained the group’s only single that has been considered a major commercial success, “Jenny Says.” The song first appeared on the band’s 1992 album, “Word of Mouth,” but never gained widespread attention until its rerelease in 1996.
Since then, the band has toured behind a reputation as one of the most entertaining rock acts to see live.
Founding member, vocalist and drummer Fred LeBlanc somehow has managed to tap into a seemingly endless supply of stamina to give audiences performances that are as explosive as they are amusing night after night.
The group released its ninth studio album, “This Train ... ,” exclusively on its website earlier this year.
Cowboy Mouth will perform for two nights at The Windjammer, 1008 Ocean Blvd. Friday’s performance will feature special guest Matt MacKelcan, while Saturday’s performance will feature The Ferns. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 the day of the show and are available online at www.etix.com. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Go to www.the-windjammer.com or call 886-8596.