Peter Rowan: Crucial Country

I’ve seen Peter Rowan enough times over the years to know that he is constitutionally incapable of playing a bad show.  Like any artist however, some shows are better than others.

This set, recorded live at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 1994, was one of those magic nights when the X-Factor was present.  Rowan’s band that night, Crucial Country, might well have been called The Ringers.  Sam Bush on mandolin, Jerry Douglas on dobro, Viktor Krauss on bass, Kester Smith on percussion and Larry Atamanuik on drums breathed not just life but fire into some of Rowan’s finest songs.

Drawing heavily from Rowan’s two early 90s gems, Dust Bowl Children and All On A Rising Day, Rowan and company also stretch out on in cosmic cowboy style on classics like “Panama Red,” and “Land Of The Navajo,” and reveal more tender, reflective and philosophical sides at other times.

During the one moment that starts to lag, a drum breakdown part of the way through an extended take on Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry,” the entire crowd began to sing the chorus creating a spine-tingling moment out of what could have been filler.  A dozen years has done nothing to dim the magic captured on these tapes.  It’s good Rowan finally allowed their release.