On paper, Sean Rowe's music should be the stuff of ineffectual self-parody: He is, after all, a bearded guy who sings acoustic folk-rock songs, complete with themes revolving around humanity's relationship to nature. But this is big, bold, muscular stuff — a closer relative of Man vs. Wild than the nearest coffeehouse. When Colin Meloy's beard is cornered in a dark alley, it summons the assistance of Sean Rowe's beard.
We didn't exactly have to crane our necks to hear Rowe — he's got a voice built for bellowing into canyons — but he came packing a succession of ever-louder acoustic-guitar set-ups just in case. A native of rural New York, Rowe devotes his off hours to wilderness survival and what he calls "primitive living." But if he ever made the move to his home state's biggest city, he'd be nicely equipped to busk in the subways: He's got enough presence and volume to drown out local trains and noisy wildlife alike.
We recently asked Rowe — whose name, incidentally, rhymes with "how" — to play a few songs from his recent album Magic at the NPR Music offices. As you can see here, he happily obliged, even tossing in a story about survivalism that renewed our collective faith in indoor living.
- "Bluegrass Baby"
Michael Katzif (cameras); edited by Bob Boilen; audio by Kevin Wait/NPR