2005 - Bluegrass, Newgrass, Rock N’ Rollgrass. True innovators defy easy categorization and John Cowan is the ultimate innovator.His ability to move easily between music styles and blend and bend genres into creative new forms has made him one of the most significant voices in acoustic music over the past thirsty years.
After making a name for himself as one of the most in-demand vocalists in the early 1970s’ music scene in Louisville, KY., Cowan rose to fame when he became the lead singer for New Grass Revival. He and band mates Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, and Pat Flynn introduced a new generation of music fans to an explosive, experimental brand of bluegrass. After inspiring and entertaining fans for nearly two decades, New Grass disbanded in 1990. Cowan immediately gave chase to his creative muse following it all over the musical landscape with a series of critically acclaimed albums. The Evansville, Indiana-native wrapped his expansive voice around tunes that ran the gamut from rock to souls to blues and beyond. As the 21st century began he found himself circling slowly, inexorably back to the acoustic music that he knew so well. He began to surround himself with some of the finest acoustic musicians working. When the current line-up of his band, Jeff Autry (guitar), Shad Cobb (fiddle), and John Frazier(mandolin), came together, he knew he was on to something special. The music began to take a natural, organic turn back to Cowan’s acoustic roots. The response may be overwhelming, but it shouldn’t be unexpected. Fans are hungry for the inventive experimentation and world-class musicianship that New Grass Revival offered. There haven’t been many bands capable of carrying the torch that NGR lit. On his latest release, New Tattoo, Cowan is fearless.
You can hear it in the eclectic mix and blend of styles and the unblinking willingness to bare even the most private recesses of his soul. New Tattoo is a bold and important statement from one of the most important voices working in American music.