After a SMOKIN' afternoon set of FUNKY NOLA grooves with Zigaboo Modeleste at Pier 23 (that's a whole other review; George Porter, Ivan Neville & the young Neville who plays guitar sat in on a couple since they were in town for a high-priced NOLA benefit later that night, and they tore that great little outdoor patio/pier UP!) I buzzed over to the Cafe Du Nord for a very under-advertised Peter Rowan solo set.
Only about 50 people tops in the tiny speak-easy basement venue, with tables set up so people sat down and SHUT UP (there's a time & a place for that too folks).
Peter was feeling good and was in fine voice, and hearing him play alone made his voice that much better.
He sang all the ones you'd expect; Panama Red, Free Mexican Air Force, Cold Rain & Snow (my personal request), Midnight Moonlight and others, but he also played some good new songs I haven't heard before, and a couple of solid bluegrass type songs, and man what a beautiful hour & twenty it was; we had him all to ourselves.
Seeing Peter Rowan is always worth the effort, but I REALLY like him in a solo setting, which I've only seen a couple of times. His guitar playing is good but he's no soloist so I miss the better fills at times, but the intimacy and quiet articulation of his great voice is really where it's at with him and IMO you get that best from him in a solo setting, especially in a very small room sitting 5 feet from him, in total comfort. (there's a place for THAT too!)
To me Peter Rowan personifies the definition of a troubadour, and this quiet little show in a quiet little place in SF was a very, very good one. I hope I get lots of chances to see him again and again.
I also think Rowan is best Solo, but I like his slow, behind the beat, oddly phrased guitar solos. Very out of the box for his genre