Saturday, May 26, 2007


Friday, May 25, 2007

No, we didn't name Rowan after this guy, but we definitely consider him among our favorite singer-songwriters. Peter Rowan really made his name in the early 70's playing with (Grateful Dead singer/guitarist) Jerry Garcia in a bluegrass band called Old And In The Way, but he's also had quite a few of his own acclaimed folk songs, and he even spent some time in the 70's playing with the founder of bluegrass music, Bill Monroe. For this show, Peter Rowan was unaccompanied by a band, so the focus was on his outstanding voice, song-writing and story-telling. Highlights of Rowan's 2-set show were the usual "Panama Red", "Walls of Time", "Free Mexican Air Force", "Land of the Navajo", "Hobo Song" and "Midnight Moonlight". In between were plenty of other tales from the American frontier, as well as a few sarcastic, politically-inspired songs with refrains like "My God is better than Your God" and "Choppin down trees for Jesus".

The show was at a little place called Proud Larry's, in Oxford, Mississippi - a college town about 45 minutes from us. Coincidentally, Oxford was the home of the famous novelist William Faulkner, whose 1800's-era Oxford estate bore the name "Rowan Oak".

Proud Larry's was a perfect venue for an intimate show like this. It's a small room about the size of an average mid-size pub (ie the Connecticut Yankee in San Francisco), and they had 3 rows of chairs followed by a row of tables set up in the majority of the room. Diagonally in the back were the soundboard and the bar. Despite the fact that the large bar takes up a good portion of the room, the bar seats were all prime viewing spots for the show; and unlike a lot of shows we've been to, the bar area was not a loud, chatty area, but rather, every person in a barstool was facing the stage and intently taking in the music. To top it off, Oxford recently passed a smoking ban, so we no longer have to practically gag on the smell of our clothes when we leave a show like this. What a great night of live music!!

Rounding out the coincidences of Rowan's here in Oxford is the former home of legendary southern literature great William Faulkner, named Rowan Oak after a type of tree.

These days, Rowan Oak is a tourist site and national historic landmark, just about a mile from where we saw Peter Rowan at Proud Larry's in downtown Oxford.

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