Lorin was born and raised in the rural suburban New England town of Wayland, Massachusetts, 20 miles west of Boston, along with his two older brothers Peter and Chris. On his Mother’s side of the family, his Great-Grandmother, Nelly, sang opera in New York, Great-Uncle George played guitar, organ and accordion, and Uncle Jim played ukulele.
His parents appreciated and enjoyed the popular music of their generation from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. They both had good voices and could carry a tune. His father sang in choir in college and later in Church and his mother could play some piano. However, neither considered themselves to be musicians and were totally surprised, to say the least, to find their three sons aspiring to play music for a living!
Lorin’s unabashed enthusiasm for playing guitar and singing (especially harmonies with his brothers) started with Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and The Crickets, The Everly Brothers, The Kingston Trio and then especially Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Band. Early on, he especially liked the lead guitar styles of George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Robbie Robertson, and Duanne Allman and Dickey Betts’ slide guitar. Later on he also picked up on ‘30’s & ‘40’s swing styles by favorites Eddie Lang and Gjango Reinhardt.
Around the age of 12, self-taught and learning to ‘play-by-ear’, Lorin started out on a Harmony tenor 4-string guitar before he learned how to play 6-string. Of course, older bros Peter and Chris, showed him a chord or two. Peter’s early interest in Bluegrass helped inspire Lorin to play mandolin. In fact, Lorin still has and plays the Gibson ‘A’ Junior that Peter sold him for $25 many years ago!
As his musical chops were developing, Lorin’s instinct and talent for songwriting began to emerge. However, during his middle school years, his first band consisted of him on electric rhythm guitar, a lead guitarist and a drummer (no bass!). They called themselves “The Tresspassers”. They played songs by “The Ventures”. Lorin wanted very much to sing, but the rest of the band wasn’t sure if he could. Lorin eventually sang two songs, “She’s Not There” by The Zombies and “Tired of Waiting” by The Kinks.
But by High School, his next group featured his singing and early original songs with sisters Maddie (MacNeil) Sifantus on harmony and Bonnie on cello, along with guitarist Carl Armstrong, who also switched on bass. After that he formed a duo with a piano player, Bill Elliott. They called themselves “Boswell”, named after the beloved Rowan family beagle/basset hound.Today; Lorin still has continuing musical friendship with Bill and Maddie.
After graduating from high school in the early ’70s, Lorin and brother Chris teamed up as a vocal/guitar pop duo with brother Peter’s ex – “Earth Opera” partner, mandolinist David Grisman. Together they moved to Marin County, California in the San Francisco Bay Area where they met up with Grisman’s old bluegrass friend, Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. Garcia played steel guitar with the brothers on some of their demos and gigs, as well as on their first record album on Columbia Records, “Rowan Brothers”, produced by David “Diadem” Grisman. They were signed by Clive Davis. One of their first gigs was opening for The Grateful Dead to a packed house at the closing of the Fillmore West, an infamous music venue run by the late music impresario, Bill Graham.
Lorin and Chris then teamed up with brother Peter as “The Rowans” to record three records on Warner/Asylum; ‘The Rowans’, ‘Sibling Rivalry’ and ‘Jubilation’ respectively. The country-rock arrangements featured their sterling three part harmonies. Incidentally, they once did a back-up vocal session for Terry Dolan (and The Pirates) with John Cipollina producing and playing guitar.
In the 80’s, Lorin formed a local San Francisco rock-reggae group called “The Edge”. They recorded several independent releases and packed the local club scene. They often shared the bill with Huey Lewis and The News. Funkster Rick James (“Super Freak”) was a big fan.In 2013, Lorin & co-founder Jimmy Dillon recorded a new CD of The Edge band under the name “San Francisco Music Club” to rave reviews.
In 1994, billed as Peter Rowan and The Rowan Brothers -‘Tree on a Hill’ (Sugar Hill label), Peter, Chris and Lorin reunited for a CD steeped in acoustic American-roots.
1995 Lorin received Marin County Buck Fund Musical Artist Grant.
Lorin’s first American solo folk-rock CD, “My Father’s Son” was released in 1996 on Black Dahlia Music, produced by Dick Olsher. It features a stellar band of musicians including Dave Jenkins (guitar, vocals), Doug Harman (cello), Kevin Wells and Jeff Myers (drums and percussion), Kincaid Miller (piano), Jerry Cortez (guitar) and his brothers Peter (mandola/vocals) and Chris (vocals).
His next CD,”Lorin Rowan Trio-Live” features Lorin on 12 string/vocals, Doug Harman (cello, vocals) and Jeremy Cohen (violin/vocals). The CD was recorded live in Ukaia, CA.
Lorin’s CD, “Rebel Sons”, is on the German/European label, Taxim. He produced and engineered it himself at his home studio “Tower Hill”. He sings all the vocals and harmonies and also plays all the instruments except where noted. The songs on this latest effort reflect Lorin’s finger-pickin’ roots in folk and country along with his acoustic/electric slide and rock lead guitar.
His songs have been covered by such diverse artists as rock pioneers Jefferson (Airplane) Starship and Bluegrass group, Northern Lights. Also, Lorin’s song “Soldier of the Cross” is the title cut of Ricky Skaggs new Grammy nominated Gospel/Bluegrass CD (2001).
Other CD projects include:
“Crazy People”, acoustic swing /reggae-billy with all three Rowan brothers. “Now & Then” a duo with brother Chris and band members Barry Sless (steel guitar), Robin Sylvester (bass) and Brent Rampone (drums) and guest artists Phil Lesh, Jim Keltner, Jerry Garcia.
Currently, Lorin’s main original music projects: ”Deep Blue Jam” band featuring Lorin Rowan & co-founder/ co-writer Kirk Casey’s original songwriting-mandolin/guitar based Americana “Bluezgrass”-Roots/Rock/Funk fusion with fellow band members, Eric McCann/bass and Matt Willis/drums, all of whom have played with a wide variety of virtuoso musicians from Vince Herman (Leftover Salmon), Phil Lesh, David Grisman, Jerry Garcia, Levon Helm, Bill Kreutzman, Jim Keltner, Steve Cropper, Clarence Clemmons, Bonnie Raitt, The Drifters and many others.
“Rattlebox” featuring Lorin (guitar/vocals),Doug Harman (cello/vocals), Barry Sless (pedal steel).
Rowan Brothers-Lorin & Chris
His instruments include:
’88 Shanti 12 String
’96 Santa Cruz 000-18
1920 Gibson “A” junior mandolin.
’88 Custom Fender Strat
’63 Fender Strat
’86 Fender Precision bass.
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