Quick Q and A with Sean Rowe

It’s that voice.  Good God Almighty!  Sean Rowe’s unmistakable voice grabs you…every solid inch of your body and every miniscule particle of your soul.  The first time I heard Sean on the radio (yeah, some people do actually listen to the radio and in this case, it was WUMB in Boston), I had to dig deeper for more music. He’s a little bit Johnny Cash with a tad of wry Greg Brown thrown in for good measure.

It didn’t take long to discover that Sean is a remarkable and most interesting person Sean is a forager—he searches for food in the “wild.”  Kudos to Sean for seeking out food sources himself in this day and age of fast and faster food.

Sean recently opened for Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters.  It’s not just anyone who can say he opened for the legendary Led Zeppelin front man.  Sean Rowe is a musical force of nature, arming himself with a powerful voice and the percussive beauty of a booming guitar.

To learn more about Sean, check out his website.

Here’s a video of Sean’s appearance on NPR’ Music’s Tiny Desk Concert.


Can you tell us what first inspired you to pick up the guitar and play?  Did you have any professional training?

I was always a musical kid.  My mom tells me I used to rock back and forth as a baby, she thought something was wrong with me.  I actually started playing bass guitar, and had some lessons here and there, but nothing that really stuck.  I didn’t start doing my own songs, writing and singing and playing guitar until I was about 19.  I didn’t have the confidence.

Is the guitar your instrument of choice?  Do you write all your songs on it? 

Yes definitely.  My guitar’s named Sidney.  All of them actually…Sidney 1, 2, and 3!   I wrote most songs on that, although there’s a few I’ve written on the uke, and some on piano, although I’m no piano player.  I’d love to learn though…but where to find the time…

For the guitar geeks out there, I must ask: do you have a favorite kind of guitar?  How would you define your instrument’s sound?

Yup.  I play a Takamine.  My guitar is actually discontinued so…not sure what to do when it breaks.  I think it’s more of what I do with the guitar, I try to make it my percussion too…it’s my whole band, really.  Me and Sidney.

As an independent musician, do you have an average day or week?

When I’m home, my average day consists of taking my kids out foraging, doing a lot of puzzles and hide and seek, and binge watching Walking Dead with my wife after the kids go to bed. We hang with friends, and we act silly.  It’s my relaxing time…the road takes up a lot of our year, so when we’re home, we want to be home.

On the road, we have a pretty defined schedule, which helps because we take the kids on the road with us.  It helps them to have a little routine, even when we’re in a different city every day.

Do you feel that your music has changed at all since you began your career?  If so, how?

Hopefully it’s getting better!  I think I am feeling more comfortable with experimenting with different sounds.  I’ve surrounded myself with a group of incredible musicians and friends and am working with them on some new music.  I feel really good about what I have coming out right now.  I don’t ever want to put out anything that doesn’t feel authentic….that was forced. I want the music to touch people, to help them.  and so far, I think it has.  I hope it has.

Do you have any favorite artists?  Do you spend much time listening to music?

Yea a lot of time.  Right now I really love the Alabama Shakes, who I had the amazing opportunity to open for recently.  Also listening to Blake Mills, who produced that last Shakes record.

You are known for your love of nature and wilderness.  Did you grow up with many opportunities to explore nature around you?

I mean, it was a different time then, and my friend and I used to roam around and explore everything.  I grew up in a little city, not in a rural neighborhood, but there was nature all over and I was always into it.  I didn’t really have anyone showing me the way.  I wish I did.  I hope I can be that person for my kids.

How did you get into foraging?  Do you have to do a lot of research when you go out into various habitats or do you just go and use your instincts and keen observation skills?

I always loved being outside.  It felt natural to me.  I came across a Tom Brown book in a secondhand store and I was truly inspired.  Then I just dove into it headfirst.  It’s a part of me, equally as much as music.  I certainly couldn’t say one was more important than the other.  They balance each other out.  There’s this strange dichotomy–wilderness is so personal and solo, music is about opening yourself up and being in the spotlight.  Anyway, I have a lot of books I refer to, and I think the best way to figure things out is to just do them.  Read, and do and ask questions.

What’s your most memorable experience out in nature?

Ten years ago I would’ve said it was going out on a solo trip for 24 days.  Now, I say it’s every single time I bring my kids out and they learn something new.  You can’t duplicate that awe.

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