Get this crazy baby off my head!


Steve Rowe

Steve Rowe - Live à Montréal - 2006 - Select Digital

Steve, acknowledged by the local press as a “Guitar Hero”, has firmly established himself as an original Canadian Bluesman. Upon hearing a teenage Steve play Led Zeppelin, older brother David threw him a classic Robert Johnson vinyl, telling him that this was the key to understanding the blues. Steve never turned back, forming his first band Skid Rowe with Bob Smith in 1981. He mastered his craft while backing up many headliners on the Montreal blues scene. Smokey Wilson’s advice to Steve was simple: “You’re an honest bluesman. Don’t ever change.” Steve’s approach to blues comes from 1950s Chicago and 60s British blues, largely self-taught, with influences from Michael Bloomfield, all the Kings (Freddie, Albert, and B.B.), Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton. After honing his skills on blues standards, Rowe decided to start writing his own lyrics and music, releasing his first CD in 2000 entitled Driving the Blues Away. This is when he first met Sound Engineer Kevin Komada, Hotel2Tango’s Recording Studio, and Mastering Artist Andrew Heermans of Polywog Recording Company (NYC). Or Lord Polywog, as he has been righteously dubbed. This team can take much of the credit for the rich and pure tones of each instrument, with four microphones on guitar, naturally. Staying true to his roots, Steve and the band record live off the floor straight to two inch analogue tape, including guitar solos. In 2002, Steve released his second original album, No Refund, No Return. Steve has opened for Bryan Lee and jammed with blues legends Hubert Summlin and Buddy Guy. Canada’s Prime Minister of the Blues Dutch Mason had a young Steve once play with his band, inviting him to “Take it away, son” on the evening’s first solo. Today, as a bluesman in his own right, Steve continues to shine as part of this rich musical tradition. © http://www.steverowe.com/profile.htm

Their show at last summer's Festival International de Jazz de Montreal is documented in fine fashion here, with Rowe's guitar prowess Front Rowe Center. Six songs from that last CD get beautifully recorded performances here, with Eric Khayat on sax and Sarah McElcheran on trumpet lending valuable support. As always, Al McElcheran plays bass and shares the vocals and Dominic Legrand is on drums for this show. Rowe sounds great, with a big fat tone, soloing fluidly throughout. Particularly on "Carlos & Me", I think he out-Santanas his rival. Much the same happens on "Train to Gatton" and "Little Wing". They don't just do these tributes, though. Their own songs are well written. 4:00 in the Morning, One Foot Front and Can't Forgive, Won't Forget were good songs on the earlier CDs, they're even better here. A guitar lover's delight, this one, don't miss it! © John Valenteyn, Maple Blues, August 2006

"Live à Montréal", was included in the Top 20 CDs of 2006 in Maple Blues and Living Blues magazines, and was also a 4-time nominee at the 2007 Quebec Lys Blues Awards, including Best Performer and Best CD. This official soundboard album from the 2005 editions of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal and FestiBlues de Montréal is a great example of a great band playing good live raw blues rock. Check out Steve Rowe's great "Front Rowe Center" album, and support real music


1 Don't Dog Me Tonight - Rowe, Smith
2 4:00 in the Morning - McElcheran, Rowe
3 Train to Gatton - McElcheran, Neil, Rowe
4 Little Wing - Hendrix
5 One Foot Front - Bowe, McElcheran, Neil
6 Cool Down - McElcheran, Neil, Rowe
7 Carlos & Me - McElcheran, Neil, Rowe
8 Can't Forgive, Won't Forget - Rowe, Smith
9 Shine On - McElcheran, Neil, Rowe
10 Mumblin' Man - McElcheran, Neil, Rowe


Steve Rowe - Guitar, Vocals
Al McElcheran - Bass, Vocals
Sarah McElcheran - Bass, Organ (Hammond), Trumpet, Horn Arrangements
Dominic Legrand - Drums
Eric Khayat - Sax


Montreal-born guitarist Steve Rowe has been playing the blues all his life. So how did Mr. "Little on the Shy Side" Rowe become a bluesman? Says Steve, "I've always wanted to play the blues. I grew up on Chicago and British blues so you'll hear a lot of that on my first CD (Driving the Blues Away). The new CD (No Refund No Return) let me push the boundaries of a standard blues tune. The roots of jazz and rock are the blues. There are no limits and I can play a different solo every night." Steve started his career back in the early 1980s and was notoriously known as the "The Undertaker". A black hat, black van, guitar-slinging kind of guy. Backing just about every blues headliner in Quebec, Rowe's unique laid-back personality combined with his energetic guitar style, complemented any vocalist lucky enough to have Steve fill in the blanks. His biggest influences? "Well... Johnny Winter, Muddy Waters, all the kings," he grins. "And you can't forget Eric. I got to jam with Buddy Guy once and that was cool. "Led Zeppelin got me into the blues at first, but when I was 15, my dad brought me to see Reverend Gary Davis. That guy was amazing! I'd just started to play guitar, and then I see this guy in his 80s playing blues, and it blew me away. I thought, I want to do that at his age." One of Rowe's first bands (Skid Rowe) saw lead singer Bob Smith and Steve form a friendship that has remained to this day. Smith, the "lyrics man", provided the words for Steve's first CD. Says Steve of Bob, "Nobody knows me better than Bob. He knows that I have to believe in what I'm singing. That's why we work so well together." Forming his first ensemble in the mid-90s, Rowe opened for the legendary Smokey Wilson in 1997 on Bravo's TV series "Café Campus en Blues". The senior blues man shook Steve's hand and proclaimed, "You're an honest bluesman." Those words have stuck with Steve, and that's what he has become known as, an honest bluesman. Since becoming a regular feature on the Quebec blues scene, Steve has played every major festival in the province. One comment overheard at the 2002 Montreal Jazz Fest was, "Oh, Steve Rowe's playing? He's always good!" And if the audience is not talking about his guitar playing, they could be referring to his tongue-in-cheek humor which comes through in songs like Lost Remote Blues, or Yes, Honey on his debut CD, to If My Cat Could Talk on the second release. Rowe's approach is simple. "If I'm going to play blues," he says, "it has to mean something to me. The music has to suit the words, like Same Old Song has sexy lyrics. So we put a Latin-style rhythm to it. "I decided on the new CD that I really wanted everything to sound like it does when I play live. Kevin, my producer, is a punk guy. He gave us 16 tracks and no punch-ins. We had to be ready. It felt like the way the first bluesmen had to record. I like that. And I really like being in a studio. After the band was finished with the basic tracks, I got to add my lead guitar. It was Kevin and me. "And we never did more than two takes," he adds with an obvious source of pride. From listening to Steve, it sounds like he and his band had fun putting the new CD together. "Oh yeah, we had a great time. Alec McElcheran is one of my newest writing partners and my bass player. After he writes a song, he lets me play with it. We must have spent three months working at it in my living room. Me, Alec, and my cat, Dennis. We still have a lot of songs that we couldn't fit into this CD. Maybe we'll see them on the next. "Lorraine (vocals producer and director Lorraine Baldwin) was a big influence. She did the background vocals for Driving the Blues Away. On this one, she was involved from the song writing stage to the studio. She got me to try things I didn't know I could do. "Then you put Alec and Dave Neil, the drummer, together and they're so tight. Pedro Ullmann, our Hammond B-3 player, has been performing R&B since the 60's. We even went to another studio just have a real grand piano for David Findlay. It's probably the best rhythm section I've ever had. And I get to play screaming solos on top of them," Steve says with a smile. "Ozone, our distributor, and I are going to officially launch the new CD in the spring. Right now, I'm just doing concerts so that people get to know my new stuff. But I'll sell from the stage, no problem. Hey, I'm just trying to make a living like everyone else," he says with a laugh. "Also, I've got a new website at www.SteveRowe.com where you can buy my CD's. You can hear some of the songs there and find out where I'm playing next. The two guys responsible were James St-Laurent, who did all the photos and artwork on the latest CD, and our new web designer, Stephen Fairweather, who lives in New Brunswick. They've done a great job putting all that together." When asked about the significance of the web to musicians, Steve replies, "The web changes everything. I get e-mails and requests for my CDs from all over the world. It's how I met Baron and Andie from Canadian Blues. We're getting airplay in Australia, Spain, France, Japan, well, there's a lot. We just got a radio station from Argentina asking about me. With my new website, I can show what I do without leaving home. It's been amazing! Every musician should have a web site." Steve will be showcasing his new tunes at The Café Campus in Montreal on November 20, 2002. No Refund, No Return is an original and fresh approach to the blues. His sound and style are truly his own. So as he makes his way across Canada with the upcoming tour, remember this... if you love the blues, then Steve Rowe is a performer you don't want to miss. © 2002 Feature by Steve Adams. © http://www.canadianblues.ca/musician-features/rowe-steve-5.html


A.O.O.F.C said...


p/w aoofc

guinea pig said...


A.O.O.F.C said...

How are you, gp (Numero Uno!). I hope all is ok with you. All the best, & thanks....P

Purpleblues said...

well, all the reviews have me licking my lips in anticipation, but the link seems to have evaporated??
Any chance of a fresh serving?

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,Purpleblues. The RS link is ok. Please try again. Thanks a million...P