Tomorrow never dies

 A new full-length from Dave Rowe (and Trio)
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  October 28, 2009

PERCHED Dave Rowe strums his way home.

For a Halloween party with substantially less gore, check out the newest release from Dave Rowe (and sometimes his Trio), The Music Never Dies. It’s an album as free of cynicism as the title implies, full of aural portraits from Rowe’s crisp tenor, folksy singalongs, and plenty of great acoustic instrumental performance.

Rowe fans will notice the departure of Ed Howe, whose fiddle-playing was exemplary, and the addition of Eric McDonald, another local (with the Stowaways’ Joe Walsh) Berklee-trained mandolinist. He picks up for Howe ably, but Howe’s fiddle was great at pushing a song’s intensity, and the Trio songs here feel more reserved.

On half the tunes, though, Rowe is solo, such as “On Holy Ground,” where he accompanies himself on piano, a big classical feel fit for church, with just a bit of reverb to give it a big-room sound.

Rowe’s Trio sound continues to be unique in local acoustic circles, too, because of Kevin O’Reilly’s electric bass, which sustains on a song like the instrumental “Splitting Wood in Flip Flops” and resonates like a tuba in contrast to both the blunted pops of your standard upright and McDonald’s crisp mandolin.

Tom Paxton’s “Ramblin’ Boy” has deep and resonant Rowe vocals and a subtle banjo, in addition to being a platform for some excellent harmony in the chorus. The bluegrass standard “Greasy Coat,” however, really misses Howe — it’s an old-time fiddle-banger, and sounds a little neutered here. YouTube the song’s name for versions that will set your hair on fire.

The new disc finishes with on a high, though, with the original bluegrass number “Tell Me Why,” with a great flatpicked guitar lead, and Rowe’s cover of his late father’s “Middle House, Back House, Bam,” a delicate solo rendition that won’t be an indie fave, but is ripped straight from the heart.

THE MUSIC NEVER DIES | Released by Dave Rowe | at Franco American Heritage Center, in Lewiston | Oct 30 |

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