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For You

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Album Review

One of the things that frustrates folk lovers is the fact that Bryan Bowers doesn't have a larger catalog. In an ideal world, the veteran singer/harp player would have recorded at least 20-30 albums. But Bowers seems to think of himself as primarily a live attraction instead of a recording artist; consequently, he has only recorded sporadically. One of the pleasing CDs that Bowers provided for the Chicago-based Flying Fish label is For You, which favors an acoustic format. There is no folk-rock or folk-pop on this album; Bowers' style of folk is very old-time, and that is true whether he is singing or playing an instrumental on his harp. The charming instrumentals demonstrate Bowers' virtuosity as harp player, while vocal gems like "Rufus and Beverly" and "Festival Love" remind listeners how captivating a storyteller he can be. Listening to For You, one hears a variety of influences. Old-time country —the acoustic country that preceded the rise of Roy Acuff, Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, and other honky tonk legends in the 1930s and 1940s — is an influence, and some of the material hints at Irish-Celtic folk. Bowers' thorough knowledge of Anglo storytelling traditions is impressive; when For You is playing, you can hear how the Celtic music that Irish and Scottish immigrants brought with them to the U.S. paved the way for bluegrass, country, and Anglo-American folk. Again, it's regrettable that an artist of Bowers' caliber doesn't have a larger catalog — especially when you consider how rewarding For You is.


Born: August 18, 1940 in Yorktown, VA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Autoharpist Bryan Bowers was born in St. Petersburg, VA, on August 18, 1940. As a boy, he would often sing along with the call-and-response harmonies of the railroad workers. He enrolled at Randolph Macon College in Ashland, VA, where he eventually began playing the guitar. But an itinerant multi-instrumentalist turned him on...
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For You, Bryan Bowers
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