Concert Review- Peter Rowan - Tony Rice Quartet 
The Egg, Albany. NY  4/6/06 
By Glenn Weiser
Metroland, April 10, 2008

A Good Pick
Peter Rowan and Tony Rice Quartet
The Egg, April 6

The lanky, well-dressed man working the elevator buttons at the Egg shortly before the show last Sunday night evidently seemed so unassuming that a fan asked him if he could get him backstage to meet the band. Speaking in a hoarse whisper, the man politely said he would see what he could do.

Tony Rice never let on that he was sharing top billing with Bill Monroe’s former rhythm guitarist Peter Rowan that night, leaving the fellow to realize it only when the preeminent flatpicking guitarist (Rice no longer sings, owing to a throat ailment) strode onstage along with Rowan, Rickie Simpkins of the Tony Rice Unit on mandolin, and former Del McCoury bassist Mike Bub to serve up two scintillating sets of bluegrass and Rowan’s characteristically Western-themed songs at an nearly full Swyer Theater. If their picking could have been any better, it was hard to see how.

The foursome opened with "Panama Red," the paean to the personification of pot Rowan is best known for. When Rice’s solo came around, the dapper but expressionless North Carolinian looked down at his right hand and watched as the first of several intricate, mesmerizing guitar solos that night curled out of the soundhole of his dreadnought. Rowan, wearing jeans and a tan sports coat, was in excellent voice, and the entire quartet gracefully pulsed along like an antelope on the run.

After "The Hobo Song," during which Simpkins delivered a dazzling mandolin break, the band offered "Land of the Navajo," a Dylanesque tale of a one-eyed trader and his Indian friend. Rowan demonstrated his weird, yodel-like Navajo throat-singing in the middle of the song, and then the group played the acoustic equivalent of jam-band "space" before extended, brilliant improvisations by Rice and Simpkins over Rowan’s alternating E minor and D major chords.

Almost anytime a bluegrass dignitary comes to town, Saratoga Springs mandolin master Frank Wakefield gets invited onstage to pick and clown for the crowd. This time El Loco Virtuoso joined in first on "The Walls of Time," which Rowan co-authored with Bill Monroe. Rice, who had been looking poker-faced up until then, watched Wakefield solo with visible interest and exclaimed his approval.

Rowan and Rice’s flawless performance at the Egg could easily go down as the Capital Region’s best acoustic show of the year.

—Glenn Weiser

See the article on the Metroland website  
Index of Metroland Articles by Glenn Weiser    ©2008 by Glenn Weiser. All rights reserved.  

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