Jamestown native guitarist and vocalist Kev Rowe recently released a new solo album, and is about to embark on Big Leg Emma's "Revival" tour.
Rowe returned to Jamestown in 2010, and brought with him a solo album entitled "Hi Love." He also reunited with Big Leg Emma for live performances and to record the 2012 release of "Revival," the band's first studio album since 2005's "The Color of Wind." According to Rowe, life has been good to him since he returned.
"I just kind of moved back into town and dove into making music, either with Big Leg Emma on the road or writing and recording my solo stuff at home," said Rowe. "And, as far as being back in Jamestown goes, I love it here. I really missed it when I was living down south. (I missed) the music scene, my family is here and I'm very much a small town type of guy. I've learned that I only need a few very basic things in life to be happy. In fact the more basic my life is, the happier I am. And there are always road trips to satisfy the adventurous cravings. So I've been back in Jamestown for two years now and can honestly say there is no place I'd rather be. I've got everything I need here."
Jamestown native guitarist and vocalist Kev Rowe recently released a new solo album entitled “More True Than Real.”
Rowe's new solo album, "More True Than Real," doesn't include a title track by the same name, but the title of the album is of a personal nature, said Rowe.
"(The album) is a very hard title for me to describe," said Rowe. "You kind of have to listen to the record to understand it, and even then maybe not get it. ... But if I had to try I'd say it came about from the songs being very personal in nature, intimate issues that are a little more pressing than 'reality' issues. I think we've got our share of 'reality' around here, so that wasn't the record I felt like making. Certainly there are some spiritual overtones to the title with the idea that there is more here than only what we can see. I did have a couple other titles, but that one just stayed cool for about a year, so I used it. And, I'm still pretty happy with that decision."
There are several aspects of the new album that make it unique in comparison to his earlier releases, said Rowe.
"Some of what makes the record unique is the way it is recorded," said Rowe. "With my acoustic records I have a method of recording the instruments that I prefer. First I record the acoustic guitar, then the lead vocal, then everything else such as a percussionist, a bass player, electric guitars, piano, strings, and whatever the song is telling me it needs. This method has given me very intimate results, and a real sense of depth and space that I like. When I'm gigging solo it's just me and my guitar, so it would seem natural that I sing best in the studio when that's all that I'm hearing in the headphones."
Another aspect of the album that makes it unique is that much of it was influenced by the circumstances in Rowe's personal life over the past two years, he said.
"When I moved back home it was under bittersweet circumstances as my wife and I had just separated and we're now divorced," said Rowe. "I was very shocked and sad about that, naturally. But, I was happy to be returning home to the environment that I flourish in. And, back to the local music scene here in Jamestown with Big Leg Emma, my family and more. So, all of that transition went into the making of this record including the peaceful moments too.
Rowe generally collaborates with other musicians on his solo albums, and for this album he did the same.
"It was a smaller cast of musicians this time on the record," said Rowe. "There are two guys in Asheville, N.C. that I love recording with, River Guerguerrian and Chris Rosser. They were both on my last record too. River is an amazing percussionist and plays a lot of hand drums, frame drums, shakers, cool rhythmic stuff. Chris is a very talented songwriter himself and can play about any instrument with strings. He plays bass for me and engineers the sessions. The coolest thing about working with these guys this time is that we did it all by Skype. I was here in my apartment in Jamestown with headphones on, listening and watching them record in Chris' studio in Asheville. It's a pretty cool process. And, they are very good studio musicians, so it doesn't take them long to find what they are looking for. It was a lot of fun."
Although Rowe is currently recording and touring with Big Leg Emma, he also strives to continue releasing solo albums because he is driven to be creative, he said.
"What drives me most I think is that I have a wide array of personal musical preferences. I like all kinds of different music, and I love to be creative," said Rowe. "So I don't really think about what will work for my solo stuff or perhaps work in Big Leg Emma. I just write a lot of songs and make a lot of recordings. I just love to be creative, with my music and in my life. I don't know where that drive comes from. Perhaps it goes back to living in the area. In this area we dream, and that is certainly in my music. I also like to do things very intensely. With Big Leg Emma it's a strength in numbers thing as we interact as a community with our fans and each other. With my solo stuff, it's just me and a listener, which is also very intense. That dichotomy keeps me satisfied. And, to know one has been to know the other."
Rowe currently doesn't have any dates set in the near future to perform his solo material. However, he will be touring with Big Leg Emma on the band's "Revival" tour.
"I have no solo shows booked at this time. I'll get back to that someday," said Rowe. "I've mainly been focusing on Big Leg Emma touring and solo recording. And, I've also been focusing on all of the at-home Internet marketing stuff, which I enjoy too. That gets the music out to new audiences. We do have a fun show coming up where Steve Johnson, Charity Nuse, and I are opening up for Donna the Buffalo on acoustic instruments on Friday, Nov. 23, at the Crystal Ball Room in downtown Jamestown. That'll be fun."
For more information visit kevrowe.com, facebook.com/kevrowemusic or biglegemma.com.