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Denver, Colorado, United States | SELF

Denver, Colorado, United States | SELF
Band Rock Alternative


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"Rowboat, Row me to the Shore"

Thanks to the magic of MySpace friendship, I was recently hipped to Rowboat, the beautifully melancholy project from Sam McNitt of Blue Million Miles. I haven't had the chance to catch the act live yet, but if the tracks currently streaming on the MySpace profile are any indication, very tasty things are to come. Built around McNitt's sorrow-hardened voice, confessional lyrics and understated strumming, Rowboat's songs surge and swell with sad and resolute grandeur. Since sad music often makes me happy, I'm unreasonably excited about this outfit. Rowboat will play at the Meadowlark this Friday, February 20, and again on Saturday, March 14. - Denver Westword

"Steal This Track: Rowboat"

Look at you! You made it past the grind and gristle of Monday, and it’s Tuesday already. You’re well on your way toward the weekend. To celebrate, Reverb would like to give you what we always give on Tuesdays: free music!

That’s right. Every week, we survey some of the loudest, quietest, saddest, happiest, weirdest, safest music that Colorado has to offer, and we select one track to give to you, lucky reader. Steal This Track is all about giving Reverb readers the opportunity to HEAR the talented artists that we write about. In many cases, the music we hand over to you, free of tariffs and surcharges, has never been released. That’s true of this week’s beautifully melancholy treat from Rowboat.

When singer-songwriter Sam McNitt isn’t breaking hearts and strings in rock outfit Blue Million Miles, he’s holed up in his home studio, fleshing out the spare, sad music of his solo project, Rowboat. This is McNitt’s opportunity to strip his desolate ditties down, exposing the charred, lonely bones. Melody and words are center stage for Rowboat, with just enough instrumentation and production to magnify the emotion and urgency of the songs.

While McNitt has yet to formally release any music under the Rowboat moniker, all that might change soon. “I have a lot of songs recorded and finished and sitting on my hard drive, waiting to see the light of day,” says the prolific songwriter. “I’m planning on putting the songs together somewhat thematically and releasing three or four EPs at once this spring.”

While you wait for the great unveiling of the Rowboat ouevre, enjoy “Devil & Dust.” On this track, McNitt nearly evokes desolation and solitude with the grace and resignation of Marty Robbins or Willie Nelson, and manages to put an indie rock spin on it that is reminiscent of some of Beck’s most austere work. This is not a song that develops in the traditional verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus narrative arc of pop music. Instead, a hypnotic guitar figure, a haunting melody and McNitt’s weathered, weary baritone drive the tune forward like a forced march across the Great American Desert. Naked, poignant and beautiful, the minimalist approach of “Devil & Dust” shows just how much can be done with very little. - Denver Post

"Syntax Denver: Rowboat"

I understand my human experience in so much as I understand music.

In fifteen years, I may not be able to name you the year where I became an uncle, lost my job, had my heart broken, officiated a wedding and had a friend die – all in a six weeks. But what I will be able to tell you is that this was the time when I was listening to Rowboat.

Revealed as a side-project for Blue Million Miles (BMM) frontman Sam McNitt, Rowboat is more of a personal project. Casually McNitt will talk about Rowboat as being a conglomerate of songs he has carried with himself that weren’t right for BMM. But honestly, this is his constant personal project, a historical novel of his life – spanning years before his pride and joy, BMM, ever began.

McNitt’s Rowboat recordings are some of the saddest songs I’ve ever known. True, my love affair with this musical project has been in conjunction with a heavily emotional period of my life. Certainly it’s no surprise that I saw every dark crease embedded in McNitt’s memorable lines (some that I mistranslated), but more than that: Rowboat served as the beautiful bully, the one that pulled everything out of my body, with a force and grace that I was grateful for.

Having begun playing music in college, McNitt also began learning how to record. Through playing nightly with friends Jeff Shapiro (of BMM) and Grant Olsen - who went-on to form the Seattle act Arthur & Yu, McNitt began developing his sound – vocally and instrumentally.

Unlike BMM, Rowboat has primarily been an acoustic act. McNitt recorded most of the parts himself, playing most of the arrangements. And like his role in BMM, McNitt is a true songwriter. In this, his process is personal and his final product is about the process. And that process is always about the human condition of being a meaning-making machine. Of churning what comes to the surface into a melody, or simply lacing together the melodies of his life: both what is immediate and what wells to the surface after deliberate concentration.

McNitt’s ability to set arrangements within its hometown musical landscape is adroit. His swells of percussion and finger picking often lead to paradises of strings and swirling light. In none of 15 tracks that I was afforded by McNitt, was there anything that felt forced, or even tight. If there is a trademark to his work, it is in his spaciousness, the half-lidded dreamy world of love and theft that is tangled with back roads and main streets littered with bottles of booze and girls of the past. Always, always somebody is leaving, moving, roaming. In this, there is certainly an emotional heft to McNitt’s Rowboat project.

Still constructing the project live, Rowboat has always played second string to working with players from his primary act. McNitt even admits that he didn’t intend on sharing much of this work with anybody in public. These were the songs that he played by himself, on his couch; after work and when nobody else was around. But now it seems that McNitt may be turning a corner. Now he is seeking a steady set of players and a consistent band of arrangements to accompany him when playing live. Up until this point, for a show, McNitt has grabbed whomever he could to help fill the show with him.

For McNitt Rowboat is not contingent on working with anybody apart from himself. As a result, he has found the process of creating Rowboat songs a bit simpler. Because the onus is on him, if anyone at all. And more than that this project has afforded him a space to critique his work. Become a fan of it. Find its flaws and find its beauty – in a way that when working in a band one might find more impositions to.

And while Rowboat is mostly an acoustic project – McNitt does play-out with his hollow body electric. And several of the recordings utilize some spacious electric guitar work in conjunction with his often-haunting vocals. In all of the recordings there is a consistency, but there is also one surprising outlier: a danceable, playful track that bounces with frothy rhythm.

If Rowboat was the soundtrack to my days this summer, I have no doubt that he can create the score for others. And soon, by playing out more and recording more – McNitt’s second chair project may just move to the fore – as an exhibition of his life history. Of everything he has learned and wound into one great boat, heaving on the choppy seas of existence.

Stay in touch with Rowboat’s future fate on the watery winds of musical expansion, here:
- Jonathan Bitz


A Crack Will Form (EP) - 2011
1. A Crack Will Form
2. Lay My Worries Down
3. Better This Way
4. I Don't Believe You
5. Every Twisted Road
6. Carrying the Weight
7. Ramble & Roll

Beneath the Sycamore (EP) - 2011
1. Devil & Dust
2. Let Down
3. Under Street Lamps
4. All Fall Down
5. Beneath the Sycamore
6. Winter Wine
7. Dead Man

How Do We Know When We Get to Where We're Going:
Demos and Dumb Things - 2011
1. The Kid
2. Deadwood
3. Tomorrow
4. Lines You Cross
5. Pendulum
6. To Get To Where We're Going
7. Walk Through Walls
8. Up to America
9. Open Your Eyes
10. Lion's Lair
11. Let Me Die In My Footsteps
12. Cold Black Wind



Rowboat is a band from Denver, CO. There are people in the band, but it's never really certain who those people are. Currently, Rowboat is working towards stable waters. Daniel White plays the guitar. John Lundock plays the drums. Matthew Till plays the bass. Sam McNitt sings the songs and worries about things. The music is simple and desolate.

You can learn more about it at:

Or if you want to just get to the point, download the three available albums at: