Foraging for a connection

Musician, forager and father Sean Rowe coming to New Belgium

By Steve Graham

Sean Rowe isn’t just a prolific and creative songwriter. He also has creative ways of funding his passion and feeding his family.

Through a Patreon page, fans (or patrons) can pay Rowe $3 per month for exclusive monthly demo tracks in his haunting and booming voice. An additional $2 gets some videos of his recording process. And for $10 a month, he’ll add a bunch of videos and tutorials about foraging — as in searching for wild and edible vegetables, fungi and more.

“It’s just been something that’s been part of my life since I was a kid,” said Rowe, who grew up in rural upstate New York.

He said he was always intrigued by living off the land, and spent a year at a wilderness survival school. He only recently started publicly sharing his passion through a YouTube series and his Patreon content.

He might be the only working musician with a “Can I Eat This” tab on his website. On the other hand, when he tours, he can forage in different microclimates and try different wild food.

And he has had plenty of time to explore. He has been writing music since he was 7, before he grew into his deeper-than-Johnny-Cash baritone and grew out his thick, trademark beard.

“When you’re a kid, all you see is what ends up on TV,” Rowe said in a phone interview. “You just knew that these were musical gods that you wanted to emulate. Who wouldn’t want to become a musician and start performing?”

Unfortunately, songwriting chops and a powerful voice aren’t always enough for success in an unpredictable artistic landscape, and he waited until age 36 for his first serious record contract.

“You really have to have some luck come your way,” Rowe said. “I didn’t get super lucky when it came to the music business until about 2010. Before that, I had been playing but nobody had heard of me.”

Since then, he has released five albums of intimate alternative folk laced with chamber pop, R&B and even gospel. And he’s spent plenty of time on the road trying to emotionally connect with fans.

“The goal is always to move people,” he said. “If you are moved in any way, that’s a good thing.”

Rowe is playing Saturday, Feb. 23, in the New Belgium taproom as part of the Candlelight Concert Series. Only 80 tickets will be available for this exclusive show.

“The vibe we’re going for is intimacy,” said New Belgium spokesman New Belgium Jesse Claeys. “Oftentimes with live music at a brewery, there is a bit of a tension between people who are there to hear some live tunes and those who are there to chat with friends over a beer. With the Candlelight Series being ticketed and hosted in a closed-off area of the brewery, we’re providing an intimate setting that allows music lovers to enjoy the scene, drink world-class beer and listen to talented musicians sharing their craft.”

The series also includes Nashville singer-songwriter Griffin House on April 25. For tickets and information, go to newbelgium.com.

To support both Rowe’s foraging and his music, visit patreon.com/seanrowe.

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