The Rowan Brothers
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The Rowan Brothers

San Francisco, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1971 | INDIE

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 1971
Duo Rock Classic Rock

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http://www.glidemagazine.com/2/reviews523.html

Rowan Brothers
Now & Then
Timothy Stout
Wednesday, September 22, 2004

All three of the Rowan brothers have been playing together for audiences off and on since the early 70’s. With their latest release, and without the help of the most famous brother, Peter (except for a few tracks featuring his background vocals), the Rowan Brothers, Chris and Lorin, have put together an acoustic double disc featuring one full of new material and a second of previously recorded songs from the 70’s, featuring the likes of Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann, Jim Keltner and others.

The first disc, appropriately titled Now, and offering an equally impressive list of guest appearances, most notably David Grisman, Phil Lesh, Barry Sless and Mookie Siegel, is a solid statement by two of the more underrated musicians and songwriters to come out of the classic San Francisco scene. Pristine, optimistic songwriting and impeccable harmonies are beautifully supported by the all-star supporting cast, particularly the magical steel guitar lines supplied by David Nelson Band member Sless. A striking highlight, “Circle of Friends,” begins with the subtle sounds of Doug Harmon on cello and David Grisman’s trickling mandolin notes, and is held together like rubber cement with a prime example of the brothers’ calculator-precise harmonies. Also of note on disc one; the production techniques of Mick Skidmore and the brothers prove progressive and daring, while preserving the warmth of what, at its core, is simply foot-tapping acoustic music with no frills.

Disc two, as you may have guessed, carries the sterile title of Then. Though the tracks that landed here are anything but sterile, and most manage to reach must hear status. And the ones that fall just short of that lofty assessment still rate as nostalgic trips to a place and time when this type of music was the life and soul of an entire community. The Grateful Dead played an integral role in the Rowan’s garnering attention in the day, and two Dead members contribute amiably on Then. The beloved Garcia stands in on the steel guitar of “Waiting In The Garden” as he did with many of the Bay Area bands of that time. And like he did occasionally with the Jefferson Airplane, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and the New Riders Of The Purple Sage, he plays the instrument as if it was all he knew. The familiar pounding produced by the limbs of Kreutzmann paces the rolling thunder of “Climbing Up The Mountain” and the rocking “Peace And Happiness.” But of course, the Rowans themselves are really what make this disc simmer. “Run To The Wind” displays the impressive mandolin chops of Lorin and raw, Robert Plant-ish vocal hollers by both of the brothers.

Altogether, what we have here is well over two hours of well-crafted folk rock that smokes every, well, now and then. And while perhaps only Then should be considered essential, the good news is the addition of Now provides a very good, clean ride through Americana by two of the originals, and is far more interesting than most of what lines today’s music shelves.

Side Note: The liner notes read; “As a special bonus there are four hidden tracks at the end of the Then disc culled from one of the Rowan Brothers first ever gigs in San Francisco, at the closing of the Fillmore West on 7/2/71 when they opened for the Grateful Dead. You guessed it – members of that band lent a hand to the aspiring Rowans during their set.” This set is introduced by the late, and thanks to the plethora of live recordings featuring his voice, ageless Bill Graham. The Dead members present here, as far as I can tell are Garcia (pedal steel), Kreutzmann (drums) and Lesh (bass).
- Glide Magazine


http://www.marinij.com/Stories/0,1413,234%257E24409%257E2499509,00.html

Marin's Rowan Brothers have lived a rock-star fantasy

IMAGINE MARIN COUNTY on a Fourth of July in 1971. The Rowan Brothers, Chris and Lorin, are playing with the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia on an outdoor stage near the Mill Valley Market.
In the crowd is Clive Davis, then a big shot with Columbia Records on his way to becoming a music business legend. He is so impressed with these two young heartthrobs that he signs them to their first major-label recording contract.

This is a Marin rock star fantasy that came true, and when reality set in, it became part of our local musical lore.

"I'll never forget it," Lorin said. "That's what old Mill Valley was like. There was that little window of time in the late '60s and early '70s when San Francisco music was happening."

The pop/rock the Rowans made three decades ago, as well as the more mature music they're creating today, comes together on their new album, "Now & Then," a 34-song double CD on BOS Music (www.bosmusic.com) that serves as a retrospective as well as an update of their career.

The early stuff was recorded when the boy-band-cute Rowans, who had moved to Marin from Boston and were living the hippie life in Stinson Beach, were being hyped as the next big thing in pop music.

Garcia described their sound as "sparkly, brand new, shiny," predicting, "They could be like the Beatles. They're that good."

Inspired by George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass," the Rowans wrote pastoral, feel-good songs with spiritual undertones about guardian angels, climbing mountains and running free, which they played on acoustic guitars and sang in impossibly high harmonies.

"Instead of writing teeny-bop songs, we said, 'Let's write songs that are uplifting,'" Lorin remembered. "After Boston, Marin County seemed idyllic. It was inspirational."

In the recording studio, they drew from their talented circle of friends, among them Garcia and drummer Bill Kreutzmann of the Grateful Dead, mandolinist David Grisman and the superstar session drummers Hal Blaine and Jim Keltner.

Their debut album, "The Rowan Brothers" (produced by Grisman), was released on Columbia just as Clive Davis was fired, leaving them without their mentor. The album faltered commercially and a follow-up never materialized.

In the wake of that setback, Lorin and Chris teamed with their older brother, Peter, for three albums of country/rock on David Geffen's Asylum label. In the end, the Rowans came close, but never became the American Beatles. As their record label says in its promotional material for "Now & Then," they "traveled from obscurity to the cusp of fame and then back home again." Lorin put it more plainly. "We came back down to earth," he said.

In the 1980s, he would go on to form the popular Marin rock/reggae band the Edge, named after Stinson Beach, "the edge" of the continent. These days, he lives with his wife in Mill Valley and remains an active figure on the local music scene as a performer and songwriter. In 2001, a song of his became the title track of Ricky Skaggs' Grammy-winning album, "Soldier of the Cross."

After the Rowans went their separate ways, Chris married and moved to Sonoma County, where he raised a family and started a successful house painting business, making music on the side, sometimes on his own, sometimes with his brothers.

Peter, who lives in Sausalito, has long been one of America's most respected roots musicians with a distinguished history that includes stints with Bill Monroe, Seatrain, Old & in the Way and the Free Mexican Air Force. In 2002, he joined his brothers on the swing-flavored album "Crazy People."

Lorin and Chris host their CD release show for "Now & Then" on Saturday, Nov. 6, at Sweetwater in Mill Valley with their band plus guests David Nelson from the New Riders of the Purple Sage and former Pablo Cruise frontman Dave Jenkins. The night before, they open at the Independent nightclub (formerly the Justice League at 628 Divisadero St.) in San Francisco for the progressive bluegrass group Railroad Earth.

"We've really come full circle, starting out together and coming back together," Chris said. "We're singing and playing as a duo better than ever."

The new music on "Now & Then" boasts a guest appearance by Dead bassist Phil Lesh and features 17 tracks beginning and ending with "Circle of Friends," a nostalgic song about shared dreams, trust and loyalty that looks back on the Rowans' past and says something about the history of rock music in Marin at the same time.

It's a wistful song with tight harmonies, acoustic guitars and mandolin. On it, the brothers sing: "Memories last forever/ Don't need more than that/ Those days are behind us and they'll never come back/The circle of friends is a ring of trust/It can never break/It can never rust/It's made of the dreams we shared back when/All we had was a circle of friends."

Paul - Marin Independent Journal


http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/11/03/DDG6L9K4CJ1.DTL

Joel Selvin, Chronicle Senior Pop Music Critic

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Within weeks of landing in Marin County, Chris and Lorin Rowan found themselves living by the ocean in Stinson Beach, being nurtured by Jerry Garcia and courted by record industry titans. They rehearsed their songs under the blue skies of Mount Tam, where Jefferson Airplane vocalist Marty Balin happened on them while he was hiking.

"I heard you," he told them. "You sound like angels."

They lived through an "Almost Famous" scenario -- signed to a major label deal by Columbia Records President Clive Davis, who outbid Asylum Records boss David Geffen; their faces plastered on a Sunset Boulevard billboard; profiled by Ben Fong-Torres in Rolling Stone ("The Rowans Get the Big Bucks") -- before the bubble burst. Now, more than 30 years later, the pair have finally released a second album, "Now and Then," that combines more than 10 years of recent recordings with a second disc of demos and outtakes from their first flush of success in the early '70s (a CD release party takes place Saturday at Mill Valley's Sweetwater).

"The music sounds better than ever to me," Lorin said. "We don't have the history of the big hits. But we've gone on like that wasn't the point anyway."

"If the artistic dream can meet with commercial success, it's great," said his older brother, Chris. "But if it doesn't, it's a nice journey anyway."

"And we haven't been through rehab," Lorin said.

Throughout their long, winding road from those heady days at Stinson Beach, the brothers have stayed close to the music and each other, as well as their older brother, Peter Rowan, a well-known name in the folk and bluegrass world.

Chris, 55, has been married 18 years and raised a daughter who is now a freshman in college. He lives in Novato, where he works as a high-end house painter but has continued to write and play music, occasionally performing in public with his brothers or other groups ("I'd rather think I have my music to fall back on").

Lorin, 52, shares a Mill Valley townhouse with his wife of 20 years and works steadily as a musician. "I've got about five bands going at any one time, " said Lorin, who has probably played at Mill Valley's Sweetwater at least once a month for the past 25 years. His '80s reggae-flavored rock band, the Edge, used to work the Corte Madera dive Uncle Charlie's alongside the nascent Huey Lewis and the News.

"Rick James was a fan," he said. "He used to tell us, 'You guys are going to be bigger than Huey.' "

Limo days are long gone

Instead, Lewis and company went on to score a series of Top 10 hits, and the Edge lost a lawsuit that landed the band, after it broke up, back in Uncle Charlie's for 40 additional shows. Lewis made a guest appearance at the final show. "These guys have paid their dues," he announced.

A photo of the two young Rowans taken in their parents' Wayland, Mass., backyard hangs in Lorin's home studio, a small second-floor guest bedroom overlooking the little off-street parking area in front of his creekside home. In the shot, Lorin rubs an upside-down dog's belly and Chris cradles a small foil-covered pipe. The sepia print comes from an age of innocence and dreams, when everything seemed possible, mere weeks before their mother flew to Los Angeles and a limousine took her to sign the record deal for her underage sons.

Their brother, who played for several years with bluegrass great Bill Monroe starting when he was 22 years old, belonged to a Boston psychedelic rock band called Earth Opera with a mandolinist named David Grisman, who took his bandmate's two younger brothers under his wing, signed them to a production deal and moved with them to Marin County in 1971, where he knew another old-timey bluegrass musician who had joined an electric rock band, Garcia.

An offhand endorsement made by Garcia in a Rolling Stone interview led to Geffen and Davis battling over the boys with Davis emerging victor by doubling Geffen's offer. The first album -- produced by Grisman under the psychedelic pseudonym David Diadem -- was rolled out with great fanfare and the prominent reprinting of the Garcia quote "They could be like the Beatles, they're that good."

"I guess Clive was behind that," Chris said. "We didn't know any better. It sounded cool to us. But you look back on it and that's the kiss of death."

The album sold a modest 30,000 copies, but their management decided against touring while they all waited for the record to explode ("They wanted to hit the bull's-eye," Lorin said). After the album failed to take off, the Rowans split up their commune, fired their managers and signed with an established Hollywood firm that also handled Loggins and Messina. The pair was advised to go to England and record a second album with Donovan producer Mickie Most. They made some demos for the second album - The San Francisco Chronicle




The Glide




Rowan Brothers
Now & Then
Timothy Stout
Wednesday, September 22, 2004

All three of the Rowan brothers have been playing together for audiences off and on since the early 70’s. With their latest release, and without the help of the most famous brother, Peter (except for a few tracks featuring his background vocals), the Rowan Brothers, Chris and Lorin, have put
together an acoustic double disc featuring one full of new material and a second of previously recorded songs from the 70’s, featuring the likes of Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann, Jim Keltner and others.
The first disc, appropriately titled Now, and offering an equally impressive list of guest appearances, most notably David Grisman, Phil Lesh, Barry Sless and Mookie Siegel, is a solid statement by two of the more underrated musicians and songwriters to come out of the classic San Francisco scene. Pristine, optimistic songwriting and impeccable harmonies are beautifullysupported by the all-star supporting cast,
particularly the magical steel guitar lines supplied by David Nelson Band member Sless. A striking highlight, “Circle of Friends,” begins with the subtle sounds of Doug Harmon on cello and David Grisman’s trickling mandolin notes, and is held together like rubber cement with a prime example of the
brothers’ calculator-precise harmonies. Also of note on disc
one; the production techniques of Mick Skidmore and the brothers prove progressive and daring, while preserving the warmth of what, at its core, is simply foot-tapping acoustic music with no frills.
Disc two, as you may have guessed, carries the sterile title
of Then. Though the tracks that landed here are anything but
sterile, and most manage to reach must hear status. And the ones that fall just short of that lofty assessment still rate as nostalgic trips to a place and time when this type of music was the life and soul of an entire community. The Grateful Dead played an integral role in the Rowan’s garnering attention in the day, and two Dead members contribute amiably on Then. The beloved Garcia stands in on the steel guitar of “Waiting In The Garden” as he did with many of the Bay Area bands of that time. And like he did occasionally with the
Jefferson Airplane, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and the New
Riders Of The Purple Sage, he plays the instrument as if it was all he knew. The familiar pounding produced by the limbs of Kreutzmann paces the rolling thunder of “Climbing Up The
Mountain” and the rocking “Peace And Happiness.” But of course, the Rowans themselves are really what make this disc simmer. “Run To The Wind” displays the impressive mandolin chops of Lorin and raw, Robert Plant-ish vocal hollers by both of the brothers. Altogether, what we have here is well over two hours of well-crafted folk rock that smokes every, well, now and then.
And while perhaps only Then should be considered essential,
the good news is the addition of Now provides a very good,
clean ride through Americana by two of the originals, and is
far more interesting than most of what lines today’s music shelves.
Side Note: The liner notes read; “As a special bonus there are
four hidden tracks at the end of the Then disc culled from one of the Rowan Brothers first ever gigs in San Francisco, at the closing of the Fillmore West on 7/2/71 when they opened for the Grateful Dead. You guessed it – members of that band lent a hand to the aspiring Rowans during their set.” This set is
introduced by the late, and thanks to the plethora of live recordings featuring his voice, ageless Bill Graham. The Dead members present here, as far as I can tell are Garcia (pedal steel), Kreutzmann (drums) and Lesh (bass).









- Glide magazine


Discography

1972 Rowan Brothers Chris & Lorin / Columbia Records. Produced by David Diadem Grisman. Musicians include Jerry Garcia (steel guitar), Bill Kreuztman (drums), Grisman (madolin, piano), Jim Keltner (drums), Buddy Emmonds (steel guitar), Bill Elliott (piano.organ), BillyWolf ( recording engineer, bass ), John Douglas (drums), Jack Bonus (sax), Richrd Greene (violin).

1974- The Rowans Peter, Chris & Lorin / Asylum records. Produced by Richie Polodor (Stephenwolf, Three Dog Night). Musicians include Russ Kunkel (drums), David Hayes (bass-Van Morrison), Jack Bonus (flute and sax).

1975 Living The Life Chris & Lorin / Appaloosa (European release, studio recordings Italy)

1976 Sibling Rivalry Peter, Chris and Lorin / Elektra Asylum Records

1978 Jubilation Peter, Chris and Lorin / Elektra Asylum Records

1993 Tree on a Hill Peter Rowan & The Rowan brothers /.(American acoustic roots) Sugar Hill. (w/Richard Greene ,fiddles; SallyVan Meter (dobro, weissenborn guitar); Kester Smith (percussion); Viktor Krauss (acoustic bass), Cindy Cashdollar (dobro,weissenborn guitar, lap steel).

2002 - "Crazy People" - The Rowan Brothers have reunited with the new release of their new acoustic swing/Caribbean flavored CD, Crazy People, culminating over 10 years in the making.

2005 - "Now And Then" (BOS Music) - A two disc career-spanning retrospective including 17 new songs and 17 vintage cuts. The collections features performances from Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, Phil Lesh, and many more.

2010- "Rowan Cunningham Band"- 1st CD with fellow musican Sue Cunningham on fiddle and vocals- roots America.
2012- "New Horizons"-Rowan Cunningham band.
Acoustic roots/folk/rock/bluegrass.Available on I Tunes and at www.rowancunninghamband.com

Photos

Bio

Artist Information

Biography
Chris and Lorin Rowan were born and raised outside Boston, 20 miles West as the crow fles, in Wayland, Massachusetts along with  their older  brother Peter, who would play  with Bill Monroe and later on with Jerry Garcia and David Grisman in Old And In The Way. All three brothers played in folk, bluegrass and pop bands. In the early 70s, Chris and Lorin got hooked up with aspiring producer David Grisman. Before long, Chris and Lorin along with Grisman moved to where it was happening San Francisco, and they still reside there today. One of the brothers first gigs in the Bay Area was opening for the Grateful Dead at the closing of the Fillmore West in 1971. Shortly thereafter Clive Davis (Columbia Records) and David Geffen (Asylum) got into a bidding war for the talented singer/songwriters. Davis won out and the band produced the lavish and much-neglected The Rowans Brothers album on Columbia (1972), (reissued in 2003 on Evangeline Recorded Works) which was produced by Grisman under the name of David Diadem. Musicians appearing on the album included drum legend Jim Keltner, Grisman, and the Grateful Deads Jerry Garcia and Bill Kreutzmann. Not long after the release of the album Davis got canned from the label and the Rowans were left without support. A planned second album never materialized.

David Geffen came to the rescue and signed the brothers (now with Peter as part of the group) to Asylum. With Peter in tow they changed their moniker to simply The Rowans. They recorded three albums; The Rowans (1976) (reissued on CD by Collectors Music Choice in 2003) Sibling Rivalry (1977) and Jubilation (1978). The two later albums have also just been reissued by Collectors Music Choice in 2003, combined on one CD. The albums sold moderately well with a couple of singles breaking the top 100. Peter eventually went back to his bluegrass roots and Chris and Lorin continued for a while as The Rowans before venturing into some different musical areas. Throughout the years Chris and Lorin and occasionally Peter have continued to play as The Rowans periodically. In 1999 they released the bluegrass-based Tree On the Hill (Sugar Hill Records) and in 2003 Crazy People (Evangeline). Both Chris and Lorin have also released independent albums and have various side music projects.

Now, Chris and Lorin have come full circle with the release of their new album Now and Then (BOS Music). The two-CD set contains 34 genre-jumping tracks. Disc one features seventeen newly recorded songs that are laced with tight harmonies, haunting melodies and underscored by crisp guitar, mandolin and steel guitar picking. They offer a versatile and exciting mixture of bluegrass-flavored folk and Everly Brothers style rock and country. Contrasting the new tracks are seventeen vintage cuts (all previously unreleased in the US and making their debut on CD). These tracks date from the duos early 70s pop-rock forays with David Grisman. The album features an impressive cast of backing players including: Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, Richard Greene, Jim Keltner, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, Hal Blaine, Mookie Siegel, Barry Sless, and many more..   

   Headliners at major festivals include Suwannee Music & Magnolia Fest,FL; Falcon Ridge. NY, Kerrville Folk Fest TX;. Telluride, Lorin & Chris recent concert  tours have included stops at  legdendary Levon Helm's (The Band) Midnight Ramble studio concert series in Woodstock and Suwannee Music Fest, Kerrville Music Festival,Hickory Fest Festival and extensive touring in UK, Ireland, Europe, and Japan..