Sean Rowe to appear at the Masonic Hall on Saturday

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BENNINGTON — Singer and songwriter Sean Rowe will appear at the Masonic Hall at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets for this Basement Music Series concert are $18 in advance, and $10 for students, through www.vtartxchange.org or by calling 800-838-3006. If not sold out, tickets will be $22 at the door.

Rowe's big, rumbling baritone has been likened to John Lee Hooker, Greg Brown, Wilson Pickett, and others, though it is utterly unaffected. "Sean Rowe's voice, a room-rattling baritone, demands attention," said Bob Boilen of NPR's All Songs Considered. "The stories he tells with it are portraits that feel simple on the surface they never are."

The New York Daily News said of Rowe, "He knows he cuts an imposing figure. He boasts a bouncer's build, a biker's hair and a voice lower than Johnny Cash with a head cold."

Rowe's baritone isn't just deep in register, but also in character. Like the best baritones, Rowe can sound sinister or sexy, sage-like or sweet.

Rowe hails from Troy, N.Y. In his teens he discovered the blues of Muddy Waters and Hooker, as well as the soul music of Marvin Gaye and Ray Charles. He began playing guitar and learning songs by virtually every artist he admired — and then some. By the time he began playing the local bar scene at 18, he had amassed enough original and cover material to perform four one-hour sets per night.

Also during his teen years, Rowe encountered the book "The Tracker" by naturalist Tom Brown, and it deeply influenced his thinking. Already drawn to the woods, he found that his passion for the wild grew; it influenced not only his thinking, but his songwriting. He attended Brown's Wilderness Survival School, and began to write more of his own material. He left the local bar scene at 25 a seasoned warrior, and self-released his debut, "27," in 2003.

His second album, "Magic," which was released by Anti- in 2011, was greeted with nearly universal acclaim. "The Salesman and the Shark," his sophomore effort for the label, appeared in August 2012. Looking to explore a sunnier sound, Rowe returned in 2014 with his eclectic fourth album, "Madman," which found the singer dabbling with pop and bluesy rock along with brooding folk. For his fifth release, Rowe took control of the whole process, crowdfunding the recording and releasing the album via his own label, Three Rivers, while striking a licensing deal with his former label, Anti-. The resulting "New Lore" was issued at the beginning of 2017.

Libations provided by Thyme Tables Catering of Shaftsbury as well as snacks and coffee provided by Bringing You Vermont will be available for purchase.

The Masonic Hall is an accessible facility. For more information about Vermont Arts Exchange and the 2018 Basement Music Series season, contact VAE at 802-442-5549, visit vtartxchange.org or like VAE on Facebook.

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