Sean Rowe: Artist You Should Know

Sean Rowe by Mark Bond

Sean Rowe will be making his Morning Becomes Eclectic debut on Monday and here’s some insight into the artist to get you pumped, courtesy of MBE producer Ariana Morgenstern.

Sean Rowe is a talented singer-songwriter with a profound baritone voice. I remember the first time I heard a song on our show, I was immediately riveted not just by the voice, but by his writing. His songs have a reflective depth to them. Intrigued, I wanted to see if his live show would match the debut I was falling in love with so headed over to McCabe’s Guitar Shop where played an enchanting set, fully cementing my appreciation for his music.

Stream “Surprise”

Afterwards, I got to meet him and we began our dialogue. He’s born and raised in upstate New York, not far from where he lives today.

He’s stocky, bearded and ruggedly handsome—he looks like a mountain man– which is not far off because he’s got a great love for nature as I later discovered. We never know who the person is behind the artist and sometimes it’s a complete surprise.

Here’s a glimpse of Sean Rowe as he shares how he spends his time when not making music, how to survive in the wild and how one book can change a life.

From Sean Rowe:

How do you spend your time when you are not making music?

To be honest Ariana…the inside of my brain probably looks something like a Jackson Pollock painting and I don’t mean that as a compliment to myself. I have no attention span whatsoever. If you saw the inside of my car, you would understand. I’m an absolute mess…but it tends to work well for tasks like songwriting and that kind of mindset usually pays off when I’m out in the woods, observing and intuitively exploring as I have done since I was a kid.

Lately, I’ve been holed up indoors processing acorns into flour and cracking the rest of the wild walnuts that I harvested this past October. I just made these acorn cookies last night and I gotta say…I surprised myself with how great they were. That’s not easy–I’ve become a really tough critic of wild food. Not all of it is created equal and it seems what much of the popular literature says is “tasty” is in practice, not so hot. You gotta dig for the good stuff. Sometimes literally!

It’s important for my own sanity to have a bunch of things going on at once that I can pick up for a while, play with and move on. I try to do that more with inanimate objects or abstract thoughts than with people. I’ve always thought I would make for a really terrifying brain surgeon but then again…I do know my way around the guitar and sometimes I can pick out the tiny nuance of a deer tail in thick wooded areas using just my peripheral vision.  I’ve learned to follow the gifts that come more instinctual to me.

You have a strong connection to the land. How was that interest sparked?

I’ve always had a strong connection to so called “primitive” people especially the Native Americans who knew the land so intimately just as we know the members of our family or…maybe they knew the land even better than that. It’s not just the Native people though…it’s all peoples all over the globe who at one time, depended on the land for their vitality.

It seems to transcend religion, custom and even language that these earlier people communicated with the natural world in a way that to the modern world, seems “magical” or “supernatural.” I certainly don’t take the view of the modern observer where it seems that nature is more of a museum piece then an actual living body. The more I practice living close to the earth in any way I can…whether that’d foraging for wild food, reaching out to the earth and making a fire or shelter from its own body using the tools of my own hands or even simply walking through the woods without a destination in mind…I feel like a get a real sense of that magic native people knew about. It’s real and direct.

Was this all instinctual?

I had no formal naturalist training when I was a kid other then a deep love for animals, plants and a sense of awe of people who knew these things intimately. It was probably a good thing…that no one told me how to approach the woods or what to see. Maybe a little training would have helped. I don’t know but when i was 18 years old…I read a book called ‘The Tracker” by Tom Brown Jr. and it set me on a path that I have remained on to this day.

Since then I’ve taken several of what you would call “survival” courses at various wilderness schools to help beef up my skills. The best teacher though has always been nature herself. You can have all the formal training in the world but if you don’t get out there and live the stuff even a little, it’s an armchair experience at best.

I don’t claim to be an amazing survivalist per say. I feel confident I know enough to get by. To me survival is about connecting to the heart of the land and communicating with it. When I took a month long solo survival trip in the Catskills it was a real challenge to stay well fed. It was both invigorating and humbling. When all I was catching in my primitive traps for days on end were a few tiny mice, they felt like the most precious, amazing gift of creation. I could directly feel the nourishment they gave to me and it really hit me…the awesome sense of trading death for life. It was a very heavy and deep feeling. Try finding that in the pre-packaged, across-the-world shipment of empty calories that we find in our modern agricultural system. That is why I practice survival.

Do you like to share your knowledge and encourage folks to take explore the woods? Maybe teach a class?

I occasionally teach wild edible plant classes but my touring schedule is proving to be a little chaotic so it’s a challenge to lock into something. I do love to share what i know, when I can. I work with a gifted, expert animal tracker (Vince Walsh) out of Saratoga Springs who runs survival, tracking and awareness workshops on his land. We’ve been working together for about a year now and hope to have something on the schedule for this coming spring/summer.Vince’s site is called www.kawingcrow.com.

Tune in on Monday to hear Sean Live at 11:15am.