Dave Rowe comes by his talents naturally. His father, Tom Rowe, co-founded and played with Schooner Fare for years, a group known nationwide (and possibly worldwide) for their interpretations of old maritime songs. Dave grew up around that music, more than likely picked up a guitar when he was very young and envisioned himself doing what his Dad loved most—making music. In Tom's case, it was very, very good music and music few others even cared about taking on at the time. In Dave's case—well, there is more than a bit of Tom in Dave. You can hear it in the song selections on Three's a Charm.
Those who have heard the Dave Rowe Trio, live or recorded, would not be surprised to hear them start out this live recording with three sea-related songs: Dave's Ballad of Howard Blackburn, his father's "Salt Water Farm", and the traditional The Mermaid. The older among us will hear the flashback sound of a fifties' Kingston Trio or New Christy Minstrels, though Rowe and crew update the sound a bit. For one thing, bassist Kevin O'Reilly plugs in—no standup for him (except comedy)—and ol' "Fiddlehands" Howe wails on the violin. Rowe's picking is as good as it has ever been and the sound on the acoustic guitar is full and warm. Still, you would swear it was recorded at the Hungry i in the fifties. It just has that feel.
It's not all seafaring songs. The hilarious The Old Dun Cow is a great audience participation number and the audience that night knew it well. When it came time to yell out "MacIntyre", the Chocolate Church where they recorded it echoed loudly. Chocolate Church, you ask? So do I. They make their way through more trad folk and sea songs next, all darn good and, occasionally, amazing. Then they finish the album by bluegrassing up BTO's Takin' Care of Business and before you say anything, put that tongue in your cheek. It's all in good fun and what is a live show without fun?
I have a couple of DRT's albums and I like them just fine. They are well-recorded and, in places, absolutely topnotch. After hearing this, though, I wonder why they don't record all of their albums live. The vocals are solid, the playing is inspired, the sound is really, really good. Maybe the audience pushes them into a different dimension or something, I don't know, but I was unprepared for this. It was a magical night and they were fortunate to have recorded it. Night's like that don't happen that often. Then again, I've never been to Maine, and for the Dave Rowe Trio, maybe they do.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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