Maine creek water runs through the veins of the three guys who make up the Dave Rowe Trio and I'm sure Mainers are damn glad. Basically, they are a three-legged Hot Rize with a musical accent, thanks to the superior songwriting and lead voice of Rowe, not to mention the excellent musicianship of all three legs. The Good Life is what folk and bluegrass fests are all about—music that is fresh, accessible and at times just fun. All over the country each summer, fests are organized for musicians to get together and jam, a chance to play with and learn from an incredible variety of their own kind. More than likely, Rowe fields invites year-round, musicians and enthusiasts knowing just how good these guys are.
Bluegrass? You bet. As if the world needed yet another bluegrass version of Sitting On Top of the World, you know? Well, you don't know because Rowe and crew kick into Hot Rize gear and nail it down. Great version, both vocally and instrumentally. Fiddler Edward Howe loans Fiddler's Fantasy to the album and when you hear it, you'll be glad he did. The guy can fiddle (at a jam, he would be one of the ones surrounded by other fiddlers, hungry to hear what the instrument can do). New Harbor Reel is all too short, a haunting and spare use of the solo fiddle—another original and a highlight of the album. Rowe's Family Portrait emphasizes the vocal bluegrass side and shines, Rowe handling both banjo and lead guitar chores admirably. Rowe's voice even has a slight early Vince Gill feel to it.
Speaking of Gill, When the Night Gets Cold could have been placed on a Gill-era Pure Prairie League album with ease, a beautiful amalgamation of choogling acoustic guitar with fiddle that you have to hear. A perfect song to attract potential fans.
Dave Rowe reaches back to 1993 and the repertoire of his father's groundbreaking group, Schooner Fare, for Quebecois. A solid traditional folk sounding original, you would swear it was being sung by French loggers or fur trappers at one of the yearly roundups. Hate them or love them, Quebecois are a proud lot, as the song makes perfectly clear.
Rowe's roots are solid in folk as well. Home, So Fallen Down, Maple Sugar Mountain and The Good Life are all examples of the love he has for the music. Rowe can write, no doubt about it.
It is also fitting that Chuck Kruger's Back To Maine is included. Not only is it a good match for Rowe's voice, it reflects attachment for the old home state. After hearing this, I figure if Rowe ever left Maine, it wouldn't be for long, emotional roots much harder to pull up than physical ones.
Dave emailed that another album has been released, more recently than The Good Life. Three's a Charm is live, recorded before what they say was an enthusiastic audience. Rowe also says that the trio sounds like a lobster tastes. Sounds to me like they were there for the food. Probably brought their own bibs, too. Them crazy Mainsters.
And here's a thought. If you're of a mind to, check out the legendary Schooner Fare, one of the first and most successful of the modern indies. They play great traditional and modern folk and let's face it, if it wasn't for Tom, Dave wouldn't be here. Wink.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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