In heavy collaboration since 1998, bluegrass icons Peter Rowan and Tony Rice have developed a symbiotic relationship based on their mutual appreciation of each other's unique sound and style.
"My goal is to stand there with an acoustic guitar and enhance what Peter does," explains Rice. "In turn, he offers a vehicle for me to play the guitar the way I want to."
Perhaps Rice is most well known for his collaboration with David Grisman and the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia on the legendary Pizza Tapes, cut from an afternoon jam session in Grisman's California home. Legend has it that the pizza boy stole the tape, and sure enough, bootleg versions began infiltrating the Grateful Dead community. When asked to confirm, Rice proclaims with a grin, "Oh sure, that's the truth. The pizza boy must have realized who we were, and off he went with the tape." And the rest was history.
Rowan, originally from New England, was first exposed to bluegrass in the post-World War II period. His childhood was spent wandering near Massachusetts' famed Walden Pond, where he developed his deep love for everything pastoral and natural. He started traveling, seeking out the source of the music he loved. When he met renowned "father of bluegrass" Bill Monroe, he became determined to play with him one day. From that point on, Rowan rolled only with the best, and in fact, became one of them, collaborating with Grisman and Garcia in the bands Earth Opera and Old & In the Way.
Rowan's songs speak of all things deeply spiritual, and most often stem from "a sudden juxtaposed experience" when he was taken out of his element or daily routine. His lyrics convey a sense of inner knowledge and deep connection with the environment, to which he credits his practice of Mahayana Buddhism. As he puts it, "the interaction between the inner world and the outer world is like a dance that's going on."
The fact that these two iconic musicians have come together in such a collaboration, still producing new music of the highest quality, is uncommon among musicians of such experience. As Rice explains, "I have no other goals and aspirations other than to just continue what I've been doing all my life. It's not conscious; it's just there."
After over 40 years of playing, two Grammys, and 53 albums between them, a rock-hard confidence has set in. They play what they want, when they want to, and are utterly secure with that decision.
At this point, "I'm not going to alter my musicianship for anybody," says Rice. "The higher authority that allows you the creativity – that's the only person I have to answer to." –Cassie Childers
Peter Rowan & The Tony Rice Quartet share the stage with String Cheese Incident, Dub Island Sound System perform at Blackbaud Stadium (1990 Daniel Island Dr. (971-4625) on Sun. Oct. 8 at 2 p.m. 4343). Cover is $31.50. For more information, go onllne to www.tonyrice.com, www.peter-rowan.com and