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Friday, November 02, 2007

Get Out: The John Cowan Band

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John Cowan

John Cowan

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Not many can claim to have helped pioneer a musical style.

John Cowan and his band, New Grass Revival, did it. They brought rock, R&B and jazz influences to bluegrass, winning new fans for an old style with their newgrass. You like Alison Krauss and Union Station? Old Crow Medicine Show? The Hackensaw Boys? Chris Thile and his mates in Nickel Creek? New Grass Revival opened the way for their acceptance and success.

Cowan, who played bass and sang lead for the band, comes to 202 Market on Friday night. He's done hard rock, country, R&B and more since the New Grass days, but he says this project comes closest in spirit to that seminal band.

These days, Cowan calls himself a "natural-born singer trying to learn how to be a songwriter." He's surely getting great help. Nashville hitmaker Darrell Scott co-wrote "Drown," which reflects Cowan's own experience as a survivor of child molestation. Such dark subject matter is balanced on his recent CD, "New Tattoo," by highly charged stompers such as "Carla's Got a New Tattoo" and the post-modern "Working in the New Mine" -- the new mine is your cubicle, if you were wondering. At the heart of it all is Cowan's voice, strong and soulful as ever.

-- Tad Dickens

What: The John Cowan Band

Where: 202 Market, downtown Roanoke. (540) 343-6644, 202market.net

When: 9 p.m. Friday.

How much: $15

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