Once again, two-time Academy of Country Music Guitarist of the year Brent Rowan brings his Music Row friends home to Steamboat Springs and the stage at Strings Music Festival for a favorite summer tradition.
Brent Rowan, Joanna Smith and Jason Matthews perform at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 12, in the Strings Music Pavilion. Reserved seating tickets start at $45 and are available at Strings Music Festival (970-879-5056 x105, www.stringsmusicfestival.com or the box office).
When Brent Rowan moved to Nashville in hopes of becoming a professional guitar player in 1977, his musical knowledge was confined to the gospel and country music he’d been raised with. The rock bands he knew were rockin’ church bands. He’d never heard of Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix. He’d never been to a movie. But Rowan was a fast learner. Rowan has since played with countless pop and country artists to record more than 15,000 sessions, among them George Strait, Shania Twain, Sting, Brian Wilson, Randy Travis, Neil Diamond, Olivia Newton-John, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Alabama. Having moved into record production, he has produced gold and platinum records for Joe Nichols, Blake Shelton and Julie Roberts. He also recently scored the film starring Lou Gossett, The Grace Card. Rowan is one of the most prolific and sought-after studio guitar players and producers on Music Row, having chalked up more than 300,000,000 CDs sales among them all – and he lives part of the year in Steamboat.
Joanna Smith became a country singer/songwriter because she wanted her music to do for other people what artists like The Judds, Dolly Parton, George Strait, K.T. Oslin and Keith Whitley did for her. “Their music transported me to another place,” she says. Growing up in a rural swath of South Georgia was the perfect place to fall in love with music, she tells Billboard: “There’s not much else to do. Where I grew up was so rural, it took me about thirty minutes to get to a McDonald’s. The town that is closest to my home was 10 miles away. It had one red light and 1,500 people.” Reverence for tradition, a healthy respect for the present and a desire to make her mark on the future have all led to a deal with RCA Records and sitting side-by-side with acclaimed producer Buddy Cannon, who is noted for his work with Kenny Chesney and Reba McEntire. She is making country music that looks back to themes like heartbreak, forgiveness and murder: Smith’s debut EP is filled with memorable songs like her most recent ballad “We Can’t Be Friends,” “Poor ‘Lil Heart” and “Gettin’ Married” – hits that feel born out of the booze-soaked, neon-lit honky tonks where she honed her performing skills and filled her songwriting notebooks. Her latest single, “Girls Are Crazy,” which she co-wrote and co-produced, was released this spring.
Jason Matthews was born in Harrell’s Store, North Carolina. At 15, he saw Eric Clapton on television and became obsessed with writing songs. When a Charlotte radio DJ gave Matthews’ demo to legendary musical comedy team Pinkard and Bowden, they invited him to be their roadie and in-house writer. Soon after, he settled in Nashville to pursue his dream of becoming a hit songwriter. In 2006, Matthews landed his first No. 1 hit with Billy Currington’s version of his
song “Must Be Doin’ Something Right.” This earned him the coveted Music Row Magazine Breakthrough Writer Of The Year Award and several ASCAP awards. His latest songs include two on the upcoming Trace Adkins album. His radio hits have included cuts for Luke Bryan (“Country Man”), Julie Roberts and Trace Adkins (“Break Down Here”), Kevin Denney (“That’s Just Jesse”), Tammy Cochran (“Life Happened”) and James Otto (“The Ball”), among others.
Now taking center stage himself, Matthews has released his own debut country music album, Hicotine.
This concert is generously sponsored by Hans and Michele Becherer Family Foundation and the Board of Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp