Discover the story behind the veteran country and gospel singer-songwriter’s latest project — his 24th album overall — and listen to the new single. (Story, audio, videos)
THE ARTIST: Bob Rowe
THE MUSIC: Folk, country and gospel
WHERE YOU CAN SEE HIM: 2 p.m. May 11 at Park Place Living Center in Kalamazoo; 2 p.m. May 18 at Lakeland Nursing Home in St. Joseph; 2:30 p.m. May 23 at The Laurels of Galesburg; 2:30 p.m. May 26 at Bronson of Mattawan
SCROLL DOWN TO LISTEN TO BOB ROWE’S SONG, “HIGHER GROUND”
Bob Rowe is returning to his roots.
The 62-year-old well-known country/gospel singer-songwriter from Kalamazoo, along with his longtime band, The Green Valley Boys — members of the Michigan Country Music Hall of Fame — are getting set to release physical copies of a full-fledged folk album this September. The LP is being produced by Poetman Records.
The album, Rowe’s 24th overall, is his first in seven years and already is available digitally via CDBaby.com.
In addition to the title track, being released as a single on iTunes, “Higher Ground” features six other originals, two covers — Bob Dylan’s “If You See Her, Say Hello” and U2’s “With or Without You” — as well as one traditional, “This Train,” which has been recorded by everyone from Louis Armstrong to Bob Marley to Randy Travis, and performed by a bevy of bluegrass and folk artists.
“This album is a really pivotal place in my career because it’s coming from my heart,” he told Local Spins recently. “It’s me coming full circle with who I am, and who I started out being, and why I got into music in the first place.”
Rowe, who began his career as a folk musician in the early 1970s, playing festivals and in coffee clubs around the country, forayed into Christian music in the 80s, and recently has made a return to the sound that ignited his early passion for music.
He performs frequently at area nursing homes and assisted living centers, and founded Renaissance Enterprises “to bring comfort, reassurance and love” to residents of long-term care facilities through high quality music and arts programs.
HONESTY AND AUTHENTICITY IN HIS MUSIC
“There’s a certain honesty to folk music, that’s what I love about it,” he said. “It’s very hard to write a good folk song if you don’t believe in what you’re telling and it’s not an honest portrayal of who you are. There’s too many phonies in this world and it’s getting worse, and people I feel are starved for authenticity.”
Rowe, who fancies himself a “rampant liberal” singing songs about “peace, hope and human rights,” achieved chart success in 2010, when his cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” hit No. 10 on the folk charts. That song was featured on the album, “Legacy,” the last recording that he and The Green Valley Boys released.
After taking time off from recording following the death of his mother, among other personal reasons, Rowe said he is rejuvenated and excited about his return to folk.
The title track off his new album he says is “a very simple straight-forward response to the terrible dark world that we’re living in right now, and all of the troubles and chaos that is going on in Washington and all around.
“It’s basically telling people that we are responsible for our own lives and our own attitudes and we can rise ourselves up to higher ground or we can wallow around in the mud and despair,” he added, saying that the song has a gospel feel to it, but “it’s not gospel in the sense that it doesn’t foster any particular religion.”
The song begins: “I’m walking out with a new light that I’ve found/ I’m walking up to higher ground/ Everywhere there’s trouble and I have seen enough now/ But I’ve get to get along somehow/I’m walking up, I’m walking up/ I’m walking up to higher ground.”
Rowe and Green Valley guitarist Rendal Wall (the son of bluegrass icon Rem Wall) performed the catchy, uplifting tune last month on “The Lori Moore Show” on WWMT Channel 3 in Kalamazoo. A clip of a brief interview and a live performance of the song can be seen below, along with a clip of Rowe’s cover of “Hallelujah.”
For more information on Rowe, visit BobRoweMusic.com.
VIDEO/INTERVIEW: Bob Rowe and Rendal Wall, “The Lori Moore Show”
VIDEO: Bob Rowe, “Hallelujah”
VIDEO: Bob Rowe & The Green Valley Boys, “Higher Ground” (EightWest)
Copyright 2017, Spins on Music LLC