The John Cowan Band

The John Cowan Band

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Lead singer and bassist for New Grass Revival (helping to spawn the careers of Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, and Pat Flynn) John Cowan is a unique voice. He blazes his own trail and in the day and age of the Corporate Music Zombies, that's a great thing.

Biography

Possessing arguably one of the most powerful and emotive tenor voices in today’s music, John Cowan has penned 6 of 13 songs in a tour de force album, produced by Wendy Waldman, “Always Take Me Back,” a project which matches his vocals musically and lyrically. In his second solo release for Sugar Hill, Cowan reaches down into the deepest recesses of his soul in an introspective, cathartic, deeply autobiographical journey and ultimately triumphant masterpiece.

“It has taken me a long time to finally arrive at this place both musically and personally,” Cowan admits. “Three years ago I went on the road with some extraordinary acoustic players and realized this is what I should do. I’d run away from the legacy of 16 years with New Grass Revival for so long; and I finally realized that for some reason me singing with these instruments make sense.”

He goes on to say, “the guys I play with are so amazing they write their own songs and bring so many things to the table-quite frankly, some of their stuff is really hard to play-I look forward to writing, having and playing new songs. I could just hire a picker to play, but this is a band in the true sense.”

Producer, singer, keyboardist and songwriter Wendy Waldman lends her considerable talent again to this second solo effort. Her musical resume includes seven solo albums for Kim Carnes, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Don Johnson, Linda Ronstadt, Crystal Gayle and dozens of other top stars.

“She produced the last New Grass Revival album, ‘Friday Night In America,’ and that’s how we met,” Cowan recalls. “That was in 1989, but she moved back to L.A. in ’91 and I kind of lost track of her. About four years ago I got Wendy’s number from somebody and we began to write and she said, ‘I thought you’d never ask!’ As we started making this, the basic idea was, ‘Okay what if New Grass Revival existed now. What would it sound like?

This album presents the musical and vocal splendor we’ve come to expect from Cowan, but is ripe with insight into family, death, love, personal growth, cleansing, forgiveness, catharsis, the power of grieving and life’s passages without being pedantic. The “meat” of the project lies in four core songs: “Blood,” “In My Father’s Field,” “Always Take Me Back,” and “18 Years,” with “In My Father’s Field” putting the bow on the project.

“As I write, I’m learning not to edit especially when writing about difficult things, like grief which we all experience. The gift is to express it, to lay it out, to tell the truth and not to be afraid of that.”

From the title cut, “Blood” and “18 Years,” which explore and celebrate the journey of family, to the musical tribute to Yes in “Long Distance Run Around,” “Read On,” a timely commentary on the Oklahoma City bombings and finally to the whimsical “2 Quarts Low,” the album is solid, engaging and infinitely listenable. Cowan never loses his musical edge, but gone is a sense of restlessness, which is now replaced with self knowledge, confidence and a new chapter of creativity.

Cowan admits that the twelve steps he took in 1987 gave him the strength to keep focused on his artistry today, thereby avoiding many of the frustrations of day to day business end of the industry. “When I got sober in ’87, it changed my whole life so I tend to have a spiritual life, which is very humbling. I’m also not in the rock music world; instead I’m now in the Americana, Bluegrass/New Grass world, where the focus is so much more on the music and so much more relaxed.” John Cowan’s history is forever entwined with the legendary group. A professional music maker since age 14, he was a veteran of Louisville rock bands such as Everyday People and Louisville Sound Department (LSD) by age 20. He auditioned for New Grass Revival in 1974.

“My father passed away a month before I joined New Grass. I’d been struggling to do music against my parent’s wishes. He dies and suddenly I’m in this great band. I always thought, in a way, that was no accident; it was him saying, ‘Ok go for it!’ That’s just my own sweet thinking about my father.”

After several personnel shifts, Pat Flynn and Bela Fleck joined bandmates John Cowan and Sam Bush in 1982. Then New Grass Revival took the acoustic-music world by storm with a string of sizzling albums, internationally acclaimed concert appearances, a musical collaboration with Leon Russell, Grammy nominations and reams of ecstatic press notices. When Fleck embarked on a jazz career at the dawn of 1990, the band called it quits. Its only reunions have been to back Garth Brooks on such hits as “Callin’ Baton Rouge” (1994) and "Do What You Gotta Do", both of which were band originals.

“In New Grass we busted our asses riding around in a van. We were so different musically and we were knocking down walls and making windows for future musicians to crawl through, like Nickel Creek, Alison Krauss, Leftover Salmon, Yonder Mountain String Band, String Cheese Incident and the Dixie Chicks. We were

Discography

Lost Weekend
8745 Feet
Always Take Me Back
John Cowan
Soul'd Out

Set List

Varies