John Cowan, bass player and lead vocalist of New Grass Revival, will play at The ArtsCenter at 8 PM on Wednesday, February 27th as part of the 10th Annual American Roots Series. Tickets are ArtsCenter Friends: $13, Single Admission: $17, Day of Show: $21. Tickets and more information can be obtained from www.artscenterlive.org or by calling The ArtsCenter Box Office at 919-929-2787.
John Cowan has been singing his heart out for almost 40 years now, and his soaring vocals have only improved with time. A true innovator, John applies his powerful pipes to genres from country, bluegrass, and gospel to soul, jazz, and rock-and-roll – often within the space of a single concert. “What we did back in the New Grass Revival days was unique,” he says. “Our vision was to take acoustic music somewhere new. What I’ve done with the John Cowan Band is try to recapture the magic of that ground-breaking experimentation and take it to the next level.”
John is a favorite at major festivals like the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado and Wilkesboro, North Carolina’s MerleFest. The John Cowan Band, featuring some of acoustic music’s finest players, has been a force to be reckoned for a score. Stints in his band have helped launch the careers of Noam Pikelny (Punch Brothers), Luke Bulla (Lyle Lovett), and Scott Vestal, among others. The band’s current lineup most often features outstanding flatpick guitarist Jeff Autry, renowned fiddler Shad Cobb, and mandolinist John Frazier.
These days, John Cowan fans have to wait a little longer between shows and travel a little farther to get to them. He’s working his own performances into and around another very busy schedule. In 2010, the Doobie Brothers found themselves once again in need of a bass player, and John Cowan, who held that gig in the 1990s, was the first person they called. As if two touring gigs didn’t keep him busy enough, in March of 2012, WSM Radio – home of The Grand Ole Opry – launched John Cowan – I Believe To My Soul, an hour-long radio program that airs monthly and features John interviewing and playing the music of some of the giants and legends of contemporary music.
John Cowan began his career in earnest in 1974 when he auditioned to play bass for the then up-and-coming New Grass Revival. With his distinctive, rock-tinged tenor vocal and heart-thumping electric bass, John, along with fellow New Grass Revival band mates Sam Bush, Courtney Johnson, and Curtis Burch, and later Bela Fleck and Pat Flynn, introduced a new generation of music fans to an explosive, experimental and ultimately, eponymous brand of bluegrass. The “newgrass” sound spawned popular jam bands such as Leftover Salmon and Yonder Mountain String Band in addition to shaping the sensibilities of country megastars Garth Brooks, the Dixie Chicks, the Zac Brown Band, and Darius Rucker.
After New Grass Revival disbanded in 1990, John went on to record a series of critically acclaimed solo albums. Longtime friend and co-writer Darrell Scott composed the haunting melody for John’s autobiographical ballad “Drown” (New Tattoo), a harrowing and graphic tale of childhood sexual abuse. The song led to John becoming the 2006 national spokesperson for Safe Place, an organization that provides and promotes safety and healing for individuals and families affected by sexual and domestic violence. “Drown” was also used in a video featuring John and others telling their stories to promote Nashville-based Our Kids, which provides medical evaluations and crisis counseling in response to concerns of child sexual abuse. It’s an issue close to his heart and one about which he remains vocal.
Concerts at The ArtsCenter are supported in part by Brooks Pierce, Chapel Hill Restaurant Group, Courtyard by Marriott, Giorgios Hospitality Group, The North Carolina Arts Council, and the Orange County Arts Commission.
The ArtsCenter is a non-profit teaching and presenting organization founded in 1974. The largest employer of artists in Orange County, NC, it serves more than 80,000 people annually, through classes, studios, concerts, theatre, spoken word, gallery displays, more than 80 school shows, and more. The ArtsCenter exerts a local economic impact exceeding $3,200,000 which generates the equivalent of 103 full time jobs and $301,000 in state and local tax revenue.