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The Rowans

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Progressive bluegrass group the Rowans consisted of harmonizing brothers Peter (guitar, most members of the mandolin family), Lorin (guitar), and Chris (guitar, flute). All three grew up in the small Massachusetts town of Weyland, near Boston, and played rock and bluegrass music together. Peter played with several folk bands in the New England area, joined Bill Monroe's band for a time, then teamed up with mandolin virtuoso David Grisman in the folk-rock outfit Earth Opera during the late '60s and early '70s. Lorin and Chris, meanwhile, teamed up as the folk/pop/country-rock duo the Rowan Brothers in the early '70s. With Grisman in tow, they relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area and scored a record deal with CBS, helped in part by an endorsement from Grisman's old cohort Jerry Garcia. The Rowan Brothers' self-titled debut was released in 1972, with Grisman producing under the alias David Diadem, and they opened for the Grateful Dead. By 1975, brother Peter was between projects, and he joined his brothers as the renamed trio the Rowans. Their eponymous debut together was released on Asylum in 1975 and received highly positive reviews for its progressive, sometimes jazzy leanings and extended compositions. The 1976 follow-up, Sibling Rivalry, was equally acclaimed, but most critics agreed that 1977's Jubilations halted the trio's creative hot streak. They subsequently parted ways with Asylum and issued two more albums on the small Appaloosa label in 1980 before disbanding to pursue other projects. The Rowans reunited periodically for performances, particularly in the late '80s, and in 1994 (as Peter Rowan & the Rowan Brothers) recorded Tree on a Hill for the Sugar Hill roots label. ~ Steve Huey

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