Peter Rowan on his musical awakening

When we create our stories each week, one of the most agonizing decisions is what to call people. How do you distill a life—in the case of our storytellers, an otherworldly life—into the three or four words of a title scroll?

For all the gifts of story we were given this year, this one was my favorite. Or, I should say, the prelude to my favorite gift. The actual gift I’m going to keep for myself for a little while.

Peter Rowan has always been close to my heart. Though I’d never met him, his music, especially his music in Old and in the Way with Jerry Garcia and David Grisman, was always like coming home.

And as I expected, he is a storyteller without peer. We talked about his first moments of musical awakening, his uncle Jimmy coming back from the war with a Martin mandolin won in a poker game, Bill Monroe asking his dad if a young Peter could come on the road with him and become a Bluegrass Boy, and of his lifetime in music.

For now, here’s just a little piece of the bodhisattva Peter Rowan.

Happy New Year! We can’t wait for 2016.

 By popular demand, today we feature our 2nd Peter Rowan storyteller.

Last time Peter told us of his early adolescent songwriting efforts. Here, we pick up with his father’s influence, and Peter tells the beautiful story of the entrance of Bill Monroe and the Romantic Poets into his life.

This one will keep you warm this weekend.


July 4th is Peter Rowan’s 74th birthday, which seems kind of fitting for us. Nobody we know represents the great breadth of the genre now called Americana music better than Peter.

Last fall, he graciously talked to us of his songwriting beginnings, and we brought you those talks several months ago. But he also offered to play those first two songs he wrote as a pre-teen. He wrote the first when he was suffering from eating too much blueberry pie, and the next when he was suffering from a different type of sickness altogether.

Happy Birthday, Peter. And thank you for your music and your spirit. Happy 4th of July everyone.

Learn more about Peter’s amazing career at

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