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Though he grew up in the generally frozen landscape of Troy, New York, Sean Rowe spent many of his formative summers in DeLand, Florida — a small town between Orlando and Daytona Beach — where his father was a residential caretaker at a home for troubled youths. It was there, in a mercifully air-conditioned, mostly unused building filled with donated musical instruments, that Sean taught himself to play drums and then bass. For those who have wondered where his distinctly low and percussive approach to guitar playing comes from, I believe you now have your answer.
During those same years, when he wasn’t listening to heavy metal or building his early musical chops, Sean was in the woods exploring, foraging, and obsessively learning all that he could about the natural world around him. Since then, his fascination with the subject has only grown and through his new web-series, Can I Eat This?, he’s found a means of indulging two of his great passions: music and nature. In each of the forthcoming episodes of Can I Eat This?, Sean will guide a fellow musician on a foraging mission for all manner of wild foods. The two will use their harvest to prepare some tasty creation and end their adventure by performing a cover song together. Look for new episodes this summer!
This year started with a successfully-funded Kickstarter campaign to support the production of Sean’s new full-length album. For this record, he teamed up with longtime producer and friend Troy Pohl, who helmed production on the albums Magic, Madman, Her Songs, and various other EPs. The two traveled to Eau Claire, Wisconsin to team up with producer and multi-instrumentalist Shane Leonard and engineer Brian Joseph at Joseph’s famed Hive Studio. All involved have described the experience as something quite remarkable and Sean is eager to release the finished work later this year.
Over the course of his career, Sean Rowe has recorded five full-length albums and several EPs. His music has been used widely throughout film and television, with notable examples including NBC’s hit dramas The Blacklist and Parenthood. Rowe’s song “To Leave Something Behind” was one of two non-score tracks to be featured in Ben Affleck’s hit 2016 feature film, The Accountant. The song accompanied the film’s final scene and has since received nearly 4.5 million streams on Spotify alone. He tours nearly nonstop and later this year, he’ll return to Europe for two weeks with stops in the U.K., Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, and Germany.
For more information, including updates on the album, Can I Eat This?, and tour dates, please visit www.seanrowe.net. To learn how you can receive exclusive access to demos, videos, and a spot on the guest list when Sean comes to your town, please visit www.patreon.com/seanrowe.
Shane Leonard is a producer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter who lives in a modest two-story bungalow on the Eastside Hill of Eau Claire, WI. Thanks to his parents who had a pretty good record collection, he grew up playing drums on pillows along to Santana's Woodstock performance of "Soul Sacrifice", strumming air guitar to Chuck Berry, and gazing at photos of young Steve Jordan in the Blues Brothers' gatefold. Older jazz musicians took him under their wing for a couple decades, and a few really patient teachers even tried to get him into the serious orchestral stuff, but it didn't really take. Still, Shane harbors an appreciation for classical music. He's not saying he doesn't like classical music. It's very cool. After dropping out of music school to hit the books and become a high school English teacher, he became fairly obsessed with traditional folk music and left to travel Appalachia, visiting elder fiddlers and banjoists and learning the old tunes. Eventually he hit the road touring with great bands like Mipso, Field Report, Rose Cousins, The Stray Birds, Oh Pep! and others. Several EPs and full-lengths of original music later (see: Kalispell), he can now be found hunched over a piano and notebook, magnetizing a production team with Brian Joseph (Bon Iver, Paul Simon) that has attracted national artists such as Anna Tivel, Kristin Andreassen (Uncle Earl), Sean Rowe and others to record new sounds in the North. Shane Leonard's forthcoming solo album, Strange Forms, will be released 5/31/2019.
Borne out of an intense two-year period in which Leonard lost his father and then became a father and husband himself, Strange Forms delivers candid ruminations on the themes of rebirth and vulnerability. "I was thirty once / but now I'm thirty-one / I wonder / will I ever feel that I have reached dry land" Leonard ponders over a backdrop of gritty electric guitars and blown-out backbeats. The tones ring like Revolver era Beatles and early Beck; the boldly sincere lyrics recall Ben Gibbard's earnest pen. For roughly a year, two best friends orbited a collection of vintage equipment in a small room, Leonard playing all the instruments and engineer Brian Joseph capturing whatever sounds excited them. A 1950's student model bass drum adorned with a hand-painted bald eagle. Cantankerous guitars pushed through the preamps of a Tascam 4-track cassette recorder. Vocals sung into a smashed-up handheld microphone inherited from Doc DeHaven, the once legendary jazz trumpeter of Madison, Wisconsin. In embrace of innocence and weathered by experience, Leonard confides to his newborn daughter, "ever since the day you were born / time accelerates / already each season feels like / the passing of a day / much as I'd like to be still with you / I know you'll never be the same".
Kalispell toured constantly throughout 2011-2013 before Leonard was hired by Field Report as a multi-instrumentalist on drums, strings, and vocals. After opening for Counting Crows, Aimee Mann, Dawes and Emmylou Harris, Field Report recorded their sophomore record, Marigolden, with Feist manager/producer Robbie Lackritz. Leonard's influence can be clearly heard throughout, elevating the grounded guitar-and-voice platform with inventive percussion, lush strings and book-matched vocal harmonies.
Now increasingly sought-after as a producer and player, Shane Leonard began his relationship with music very early, sitting-in on drums as a kid at jazz sessions in Milwaukee and Chicago. From there it was classical percussion lessons with players of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and legendary percussionist Jim Sewrey. After college he embarked on a journey across Appalachia to learn banjo, fiddle, and hundred-year-old songs in the presence of masters Clyde Davenport, Lee Sexton, Frank Lee, Bob Carlin, and Joe Newberry.
These influences come together in Kalispell's new record, Printer's Son, which Leonard crowd-funded by independently raising over $15,000 on Kickstarter. Connecting an improvisational heart with meticulously constructed arteries of melody, it eschews the stomp-clap boom-chuck trend of indie-folk, instead giving nods to the entranced sonic tapestries of Phillip Glass and lyrical sophistication of Paul Simon.