I’ve been enjoying the music and musicianship of Dave Rowe for many years. He’s been a part of such Maine-based acts as the Turkey Hollow Consort, the Dave Rowe Trio and, most recently, The Squid Jiggers. This multi-instrumentalist is the son of the late Tom Rowe, who was one of the most influential Maine musicians with the trio known as Schooner Fare. Needless to say, when I heard Dave was coming to Jewett Auditorium on the 13th of this month, I jumped at the chance to chat with him once more. I reached him at his Portland office on Feb. 11 and began our conversation by confirming the upcoming show’s location.

Q: So this is a Jewett Hall gig you’ve got coming up?

Rowe: Yup.

Q: You’ve probably done that venue before?

Rowe: Not in a lot of years — the last time I played Jewett Hall, I was playing bass with Don Campbell and we opened for Patty Larkin — it’s a nice room.

Q: Is this going to be a solo show or are you being joined by Troy (R. Bennett) for a Squid Jiggers performance?

Rowe: It’s half solo, half Squid Jiggers. It’s a strange situation, but when they contacted me in the first place, they couldn’t decide which act they wanted, because they really liked the material of both acts, albeit different material, so they asked us if we would consent to doing a show of both. And you know, why not?

Q: Well, that makes it the best of both worlds.

Rowe: Best of both worlds, at least our worlds.

Q: Now, as the Squid Jiggers you’ve got a CD out, correct?

Rowe: We have three CDs and a DVD out.

Q: Oh, I have your first album, but I didn’t know about the others. When did you guys get together?

Rowe: In 2010.

Q: Three CDs and a DVD — that’s about right for that time period, I guess.

Rowe: We’re chugging along, you know.

Q: Well, for you personally, this gives you an opportunity to do the singer-songwriter approach — which is the solo work — but also the traditional Celtic/Irish material as well.

Rowe: Yup, that’s the Squid Jiggers’ sort of situation.

Q: Do you prefer one over the other?

Rowe: Ah, yeah, I think I do. I think I prefer my own songs to traditional stuff, but there’s a place in my heart for the traditional stuff, which is why I do it. The Dave Rowe Trio has such an identity crisis because we were doing both my music and the traditional stuff; and as that was in its fizzling stages, I started the Squid Jiggers with the idea that I would sort of divorce the two parts of my musical life so that I wouldn’t have that identity crisis going in — and so far it’s working really well. I’m no longer conflicted.

Q: How long have you been doing this?

Rowe: I’ve got 27 years in the business.

Q: That doesn’t seem possible.

Rowe: Well, I started when I was 15.

Q: Do you have something new coming out on the solo side of things?

Rowe: I just released something in October. You see, my very first recorded project came out in 1996 — it was recorded in ’95 and released in ’96 — so I just did a 20-year retrospective album, cherry-picking from most of the CDs.

Q: Neat! Were they re-recorded?

Rowe: No, I just went back to the source material, re-mastered in all cases — mastering is an entire project unto its own.

Q: Are you working on something new, materialwise?

Rowe: I am. I’ve got two or three songs in the can already for a new release. I have no timeline on that at this point. I’m sort of writing and recording as I go. I have four other songs here that haven’t been recorded yet, so I have enough for an EP; but I never release EPs, so I’m going to have to wait until there’s some more material.

Q: Does songwriting come easy for you?

Rowe: When it comes, it comes easy. It has to be the right moment. I have to be in the right mood. It’s sort of like this lining up of the stars, otherwise if I try to force it I just get frustrated. I set the guitar down and I walk away from it, and nothing ever comes of it. But if I have one of those moments where something flashes, I’ll have a song 20 minutes later. So it’s either an exercise in frustration or so easy that anybody should be able to do it.

Q: Will the folks at this show get to hear some of your new material?

Rowe: Oh yeah, oh, definitely. All three of the ones I’ve recorded I’ve worked up and are ready to go, as well, so I’ll probably pull at least one of them out. I probably won’t pull all three out, though.

Q: So in summation, you’ve played at Jewett before but as a member of another band, so this performance coming up will be sort of a venue debut for you as well as the Squid Jiggers.

Rowe: Yeah, I actually haven’t set foot in that room in over 20 years.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article?

Rowe: Ah, well, given the date of the show, we probably could mention that the Squid Jiggers will be bringing a little pre-St. Patrick’s Day mojo to the thing — for those who can’t make our actual St. Patrick’s Day show, which will be down here in Portland. Other than that, of course, we have CDs for sale there.

Q: And a DVD.

Rowe: And a DVD, right, and T-shirts and all sorts of stuff.

Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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