Peter Rowan Gets the 'Dharma Blues' This Summer

Posted on June 2, 2014 | by Jason Walsh

Peter Rowan says he’s embarking on a “spiritual journey”—and fans of the bluegrass legend can join him en route July 8, with the release of his latest album, Dharma Blues.

With Grammy-winning producer John Chelew behind the controls, Dharma Blues marks the 20th solo album by Rowan, whose career has seen the 71-year-old flatpicking guitar hero sharing the stage with such greats as Bill Monroe, Jerry Garcia, Tony Rice, Flaco Jimenez and David Grisman.

The seeds of Dharma Blues first took root while the guitarist was busy with his other passion: painting.

“John [Chelew] came by my painting studio, an old sail-making loft in Sausalito [California] where I was spending time working with visual media and writing songs,” says Rowan, a practicing Buddhist. “John was up for spiritual adventure … so I started singing him these songs that I had written in India and Japan ... had played ’em live, but never recorded.” 

According to Rowan, Chelew “began to get that mystical look in his eye.”

The result, according to press materials for the album, is a “new and different Peter Rowan recording excursion.”

Dharma Blues was recorded in Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Marin County, and features such guest musicians as bassist Jack Casady, singer Gillian Welch, pedal-steel guitarist Dave Easley, and banjoist Jody Stecher.

With more than five decades under his belt, Rowan continues to seek out adventurous ways to explore new musical territory.

“The doubts and resolutions of the spiritual journey are what drive Dharma Blues,” says Rowan. “May this music bring joy to all.”

For more on Rowan, visit peterrowan.com.

In the meantime, check out the above clip of the guitarist himself performing Townes Van Zandt’s “To Live Is to Fly” live in France in 2008.

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