Bluegrass greats Peter Rowan and Tony Rice are several years and two albums into their collaboration. But Rowan says some folks still don’t quite get it.
“Part of the problem is Tony and I are perceived as separate entities,” says Rowan, 64, a veteran of
Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys and the bands Old and in the Way and Sea Train. “We made a point of saying we’re gonna do this project and see it through, but still people don’t think we’re an entity. ‘You gonna play with Tony soon?’ That’s all I do. It’s just ... weird. It’s perceptions.”
Rowan hopes the duo’s second album, “Quartet” — which comes out on Jan. 23 — will help clear things up. Unlike 2004’s “You Were There For Me,” which featured all fresh material, the new album includes covers of Patti Smith and Townes Van Zandt songs plus a collection of previously recorded Rowan songs — including “Dust Bowl Children,” “Perfection” and an epic version of “Moonlight Midnight” — done in the Rowan-Rice style.
“This record was meant to give Tony more of a platform as a leader,” Rowan explains. “I never would’ve thought of recording them; I would’ve made another album of unrecorded material. But to have Tony’s input was fantastic. These songs are the lynch pins of our set, and he wanted to do them — but give them our version.
“I think it was the right thing to do, and I think it’ll show people that we really are together as a group.”
The Peter Rowan & Tony Rice Quartet performs at 7:30 p.m. Sunday (November 19th) at The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $25. Call (734) 761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.