Jewel Box Concert at the Thomas Center Welcomes Grammy Award Winner Peter Rowan


The Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, in cooperation with Shake Rag Cultural Center, Inc., welcomes Grammy Award winning musician Peter Rowan to the next Jewel Box Concert at the Thomas Center to be held Thursday, May 3. Opening for Rowan is singer/songwriter and virtuoso guitarist Sam Pacetti. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the concert begins at 7 p.m. General admission is $30, and VIP seating is $40 at the door. Seating is limited, but tickets may be purchased in advance online at

PETER ROWAN: Grammy award winner Peter Rowan is a singer-songwriter with a career spanning over five decades. From his early years playing under the tutelage of bluegrass veteran Bill Monroe, to his time in the band Old and In the Way and his breakout as a solo musician and bandleader, Rowan has built a devoted, international fan base through a solid stream of recordings, collaborative projects, and constant touring.

Rowan began plucking his first instrument, a ukulele, as a young child, and then picked up mandolin and guitar. Meanwhile, he gained exposure to black gospel and doo-wop, then Little Richard and Buddy Holly, while he and his brothers learned harmonies for fun. As a teen, he formed a rock band, attended sock hops and began hanging around Harvard Square. One night, he heard Joan Baez, who wound up joining him and his friends for a street-corner doo-wop session.

“That was my introduction to the folk music world. Through that, I became aware of bluegrass as a genre,” Rowan recalls. Soon, he was performing with two beacons of Boston’s music scene: Hayloft Jamboree singer Jim Rooney, who became a major figure in the burgeoning folk genre, and banjo player Bill Keith, creator of what’s known as the “Keith style.” Mandolinist Joe Val, who played with that duo before Rowan did, taught him old-time “brother duet” singing. Then Keith introduced him to Monroe.

“I was playing locally and loving it. Bluegrass had all the harmony and drive that rock ‘n’ roll had, and was a whole other area of acoustic music and harmony singing,” Rowan says. He moved to Nashville to join Monroe full time, and together they wrote the classic “The Walls of Time.”

After leaving Monroe in 1967, Rowan formed the psychedelic rock band Earth Opera with David Grisman. In ’69, former Monroe fiddler Richard Greene summoned Rowan to join the roots-fusion band Seatrain (which recorded two albums with George Martin). After that, he formed a bluegrass supergroup of sorts, Muleskinner, with Greene, Grisman, Keith and Clarence White. The Rowan siblings also formed the Rowan Brothers, and he and Grisman created Old and In the Way with Jerry Garcia, John Kahn and Vassar Clements. That’s when Rowan wrote his most famous song, “Panama Red,” which became a hit for New Riders of the Purple Sage.

Since going solo in the ’70s, Rowan has recorded albums encompassing a variety of genres, from Hawaiian to Tex-Mex (with Flaco Jimenez), while performing with various bands including side projects Twang an’ Groove and his rock band, Free Mexican Air Force. Along the way, he’s earned a Grammy and multiple nominations, plus many other accolades, while playing alongside fellow musical giants.

SAM PACETTI: Tradition and innovation neatly balance in Sam Pacetti's music, the whole infused by a relentless intelligence intent on musical and philosophical synthesis. Martin Simpson, Richard Thompson, Joni Mitchell and Merle Travis are touchstones to Pacetti, and, while there are strong elements of the American primitive school of guitar wizardry throughout his work, there is a powerful raw emotionality evident as well. Pacetti has been called a fingerstyle guitar wizard, a deft songwriter and capable of haunting depth and wry humor in the space of one song. Onstage he is an impassioned and ecstatic vocalist, as well as a mesmerizing performer, seamlessly melding head-spinning guitar pyrotechnics and raw emotion into one breathtaking package.

Sam Pacetti grew up in north Florida. At age 13, he found the music of both Chet Atkins and Merle Travis, profound influences on his early musical development. Then fate intervened shortly afterward in the person of Gamble Rogers, the legendary picker and raconteur from St. Augustine, who took the young Pacetti under his wing. It was a time of astonishing musical and emotional growth. Pacetti and Rogers met and played weekly for a year, until Rogers tragically died while trying to save a drowning tourist caught in an undertow at Flagler Beach, Florida. Though brief in their time together, Rogers was able to instill in Pacetti the importance of the folk process, the passing of music and oral tradition from teacher to student. Pacetti still counts Rogers as his most influential mentor.

More information on Peter Rowan is available at ​, and information on Sam Pacetti is available​ at Photos of Peter Rowan and Sam Pacetti may be viewed online at

Dinner from Radha's Kitchen will be available for purchase starting at 6 p.m. The menu features chickpea and green bean red curry, basmati rice, organic salad with sunflower dressing, Elvis Presley halava-peanut butter and banana Indian dessert. Customers may pre-order by calling 352-214-4180 for $10 per plate or purchase on site for $12 per plate.

Customers may also bring their favorite wine or champagne, and an attendant will tend their bottle. Plastic cups will be provided, but guests are welcome to bring their own glasses.

More information is available at