Dave Rowe— Maine’s Modern Folk Troubadour
Perhaps I should clarify. Modern folk to me is the era of The Kingston Trio and Peter Paul & Mary and Pete Seeger. At one time, the folkies ruled the roost. I know because I have been alive that long. Dave Rowe knows because his father, Tom Rowe, was a musician all of his life, much of it spent with the legendary Schooner Fare, stalwarts of Traditional and Modern Folk. I found out about Schooner Fare through a few customers who used to scour the racks at Peaches in Seattle for anything and everything musical and nautical and evidently they covered both. I still remember the day the first of them found the Schooner Fare divider in the racks and how excited he was. You guys know Schooner Fare, he asked. No, but I assume you do, I said, and a friendship was born. He schooled me in traditional folk and sailing songs, did Dan, and I could have been caught up in his enthusiasm but for the fact that at that time in my life, if you didn’t plug it in, I gave it short shrift. I did buy a couple of the early SF albums and kept them in my collection though, awaiting a time when I might appreciate the genre. I did and I still have them.
Growing up Tom Rowe’s son probably had its ups and downs, as do all unchosen but assigned journeys, but just the fact that Dave picked up the guitar and has not yet put it down speaks volumes. He has more than a bit of his father’s voice, has a real appreciation and sensibility for both traditional and present day folk music, and has a real stage presence as is obvious on Live at Baldwin’s Station.
That stage presence is the key to success here, Dave connecting not only with the audience but the music. His voice brings pure magic to the songs, many of them melodic folk ballads, and his rapport with the crowd captures the days of the hootenanny when I was young and enraptured by the likes of The New Christy Minstrels and Joe & Eddie and eventually Gordon Lightfoot and others. He spends a bit of time teaching lyrics for singalongs and tells a few short jokes and basically shows his human side. As all good folkies should.
My good friend Dave Pyles who used to run the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange website turned me on to Dave back in 2007. Dave at that time was playing with the Dave Rowe Trio and had released an album titled The Good Life. It didn’t take me long to understand why Pyles spoke so highly of him. I went on to write a second review of the Trio, 2008’s Three’s a Charm, every bit as good as The Good Life. Then our paths separated. Lucky for me, they just converged again.
Dave’s a Mainer (I prefer to think of them as Mainiacs). He sounds like one. I got caught up in his accent during his intros and monologues on this album. It was fun to hear. The whole album is fun to hear, actually. Dave brings not just the music but the troubadour experience to life, for me anyway. While listening, I think back to the days of The Kingston Trio and The Limeliters and float back into my youth. When folk was looking like it might be the genre.
Those were some days, my friends, and some of us, including Dave Rowe, are still living them.