Hailing from the great state of Maine, yachtsman Dave Rowe, is a traveling troubadour—a singer-songwriter and interpreter of traditional and modern song—whose 35-year career has had him on stages all over the eastern seaboard and throughout America’s heartland.
Armed with a guitar, a dream, a quick wit, a soaring tenor voice, and the heart of an entertainer, he has enthralled audiences everywhere he’s gone, bringing them from raucous singalongs to laughter to tears and everything in between.
In recent years, Dave began a new path, traveling the eastern continental US by boat, traveling the Great Loop, the Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, and waterways in between, and singing songs along the way. The Great Loop, which Dave completed for the first time in spring of 2020, is a 6,000-mile string of navigable waters from the east coast to the Great Lakes via the Hudson River and Erie Canal, down the inland rivers and canals of the heartland to the Gulf of Mexico, and around the Gulf and Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway up the East Coast.
While traveling the Florida Panhandle, the producers of ABC's America's Funniest Videos came into possession of a video of "the captain" in a lighthearted moment on stage and decided it needed to be on the show. With the boat safely docked in Pensacola, Florida, they flew Dave out to Los Angeles where his video placed second on the show, being narrowly pushed out of the top spot by a Canadian toddler who desperately wanted cake.
Future cruising plans will have him retracing favorite waterways that he discovered while looping and returning to spend some quality time enjoying the waterways of North America. As he has voyaged, Dave has been playing to new audiences from yacht clubs to water-side coffee houses, pubs, and taverns—making friends and fans along the way.
Dave’s music is handmade and heartfelt. It springs from deep roots borne out of the song traditions of Ireland and the British Isles, cultivated in the roots music of North America, and filtered through the musical sensibility of a classically-trained musician who is as at home directing a choir or wind ensemble as he is standing with his acoustic guitar in front of a large audience singing songs together. His original songs come from the heart of a poet and the soul of a maestro, examining subject matter as varied as Dave’s interests, from songs of the sea to historical sketches, from songs of abiding love to social commentary.
The path Dave Rowe took to music was probably unavoidable. Both of his parents were professional musicians—as were both of his grandfathers. Dave’s late father, Tom, was a founding member of the internationally-acclaimed folk trio, Schooner Fare. A lineage and pedigree of which Dave is proud, but to define his music through the lens of what came before would be a mistake. He’s made a name for himself not because of what his father achieved, but in spite of it.
There’s a risk of being pigeonholed when undertaking a similar path to a parent, a hurdle Dave has risen above time and again in his many years on the road and fifteen critically-acclaimed recordings, leading Sing Out! contributor and long-time WFDU radio host, Ron Olesko, to write of the younger Rowe, “To look at his youthful appearance, you would not suspect that Dave has 27 years of experience as a professional musician, but as soon as he takes the stage you can tell that this man is a consummate artist. Dave graces the stage and brings everyone under his spell. The son of the late Tom Rowe of Schooner Fare, Dave has folk music in his heart and soul. Based in Maine, I hope Dave will spend more time performing at venues throughout the country so others can discover the magic he creates.”
Dave’s journey aboard has taken him through twenty-four U.S. states and one Canadian province. His trusty guitar; his yacht, Stinkpot; and his first mate, Stacey have traveled well north of 12,000 nautical miles since first casting off in 2018 on this odyssey on the water and the stage. Dave has plans for a new recording project including some of the new music he has written aboard, including his song “A Toast to John Prine,” which ran up to #17 on the Folk Radio Charts when it was released on a sampler compilation in April 2020.
Dave Rowe personifies the independent, enterprising, adventurous spirit that he effortlessly conveys through his lifestyle and music.
Selling most of his non-musical possessions, Dave moved aboard a 38-foot boat in order to challenge himself and commune with the ocean and the life force of nature. He even completed the year-long Great Loop—the Iditarod of North American boating adventures—in 2020. The sea and salt air are his muse; his deep exploration of this world, both physically and spiritually, is apparent in his timeless lyrics and enduring-but-catchy melodies.
Dave's affable charisma onstage enthralls, as demonstrated by his unlikely and enthusiastic selection to appear on a primetime network television show, when his soaring, pure, but commanding voice seemed to contrast with the uproariously funny, off-the-cuff "replacement lyrics" to a holiday classic were caught on video. The production staff dubbed the moment "Cellphone Baritone" and whisked Dave to LA for an all-expenses-paid appearance on ABC's America's Funniest Videos. The studio audience selected Dave's video for second place—just barely inched out by a Canadian toddler who desperately wanted cake.
A natural entertainer and storyteller, Dave comes to it by birthright. Both grandfathers were professional jazz musicians, his mother a professional singer, and his father, Tom, was a much revered and talented linchpin of the popular folk trio, Schooner Fare. They all made sure Dave was classically trained, gifting this renaissance man the musical foundation to bloom and carry on the family musical tradition.
Single Paragraph Biography
A singular performer and entertainer who has always approached the music business on his own terms, Dave Rowe grew up in folk music, was vocally trained by opera star, Brenda Lewis, and is a visionary folk musician, producer, and broadcaster who has released some 15 recordings over his adventurous career.
"To look at his youthful appearance, you would not suspect that Dave has 27 years of experience as a professional musician, but as soon as he takes the stage you can tell that this man is a consummate artist. Dave graces the stage and brings everyone under his spell. The son of the late Tom Rowe of Schooner Fare, Dave has folk music in his heart and soul. Based in Maine, I hope Dave will spend more time performing at venues throughout the country so others can discover the magic he creates." -Ron Olesko, SingOut!
"As Rowe played his acoustic guitar, he played it with style and grace and plucked it like a harp."
"The biggest surprise of the evening came when Rowe…encored with a piano rendition of 'O'Holy Night' But as he hit the high note of 'Oh night…Devine…' he stepped from the world of the folk into the world of 'Three Tenors.'" -Don E. Smith Jr., Fair Lawn Patch
"Singing from the heart and wowing crowd, I can certainly bear witness. The singing especially takes center stage on this new collection of traditionals and originals penned by Rowe ... Dave's voice is straight out of movie, or off a 50-year-old record, pure and always on key." -Sam Pfeifle, Portland Phoenix
"I was totally delighted by this CD and was moved by the dedication (to his father) and the Album's title, which, in a way, refers to Tom Rowe's musical legacy. … This one's a keeper.” -Lucky Clark, Kennebec Journal
"…youthful zest, pulsing melodicism, and pedal-to-the-metal energy, Rowe and his pals prove there's nothing retro about carrying on the family name.” -Scott Alarik, Boston Globe
"The seats filled quickly, and the audience was enthralled as Rowe’s huge, deep voice filled the room and vibrated off the walls. Within minutes, he had everyone singing and clapping along. It was a toe-tapping good time….” -Rebecca Russell, Irish American Post, Milwaukee, WI
"DAVE ROWE TRIO, The Good Life, (Outer Green 8962). No banjo, but this Maine-based threesome (Dave Rowe, guitar; Kevin O'Reilly, bass; Edward Howe, fiddle and mandolin) does cruise through the eleven songs and tunes here (most written by Rowe) with a certain bluegrass flavor, with more than a dash of the Maritimes thrown in ("New Harbor Reel," "Quebecois"). Vocally and instrumentally, Rowe and his mates are easygoing and engaging.” -John Lupton, The Sing Out!
"Very impressive. If I were still on the air this would go into 'heavy' rotation....this one is special and presents one of folk music's 'ready to break through' artists, ready for heavy national exposure.” -Dick Cerri, World Folk Music Association
"You know, it's a good thing that CDs don't degrade with use or die completely. If it were the case, I'd have DESTROYED all of my Dave Rowe discs by now….” -Dr. Andrew Pelletier, Grammy Winner, soloist, Assistant Professor of Music at Bowling Green State University
"[His] stage presence is the key to success here, Dave connecting not only with the audience but the music. His voice brings pure magic to the songs, many of them melodic folk ballads, and his rapport with the crowd captures the days of the hootenanny when I was young and enraptured by the likes of The New Christy Minstrels and Joe & Eddie and eventually Gordon Lightfoot and others. He spends a bit of time teaching lyrics for singalongs and tells a few short jokes and basically shows his human side. As all good folkies should." -Frank Gutch, Jr., No Depression: The Journal of Roots Music
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