In 2010, Peter Rowan came back to bluegrass with his wonderful recording Legacy. It wasn’t a matter of Rowan choosing to record a bluegrass album for the sake of it. Rather, it was a situation where he had written a bunch of songs about staring life in the face, and bluegrass was the best genre with which to bring those new compositions forward. The album was well-received, and rightly so.
Now, on his new album The Old School, Rowan has continued his bluegrass momentum in high style. The opening title cut, which may become a new bluegrass standard, is a perfect example of what is on this album. The song “Keepin’ It Between The Lines (Old School)” features a session crew of Ronnie McCoury, Robbie McCoury, Alan Bartram, Michael Cleveland, and Chris Henry. As the rollicking bluegrass groove progresses, Rowan steps up with lyrics about the old days: Keepin’ it between the lines, riding many a mile, drive all night, shave in cold water, raise your hand up high and smile, You got to pick it clean, play it true, you know that’s the rule of the old school. Then, helping Rowan sing the rest of the lyrics is Bobby Osborne, Del McCoury, Ronnie McCoury and Jesse McReynolds.
Other guest musicians here include Don Rigsby, Stuart Duncan, Dennis Crouch, Mike Witcher, Keith Little, Jason Carter, Paul Knight, Bryan Sutton, Buddy Spicher, and Jeremy Garrett. Doing a wonderful job of producing is Alison Brown, who also produced the Legacy album. Another highlight on this project is “Doc Watson Morning,” a sweet ode to the great Watson that Rowan wrote the day he learned of the guitar legend’s death. Very simply, every song here is a good one. (Compass Records, 916 19th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37212, www.compassrecords.com.)DH