Dirty Dozen: Silas Lowe

Silas LoweAfter decades apart, Lowe and Michaels were reunited in Austin, Texas, here they built a new relationship and shared their passion for music. Michaels passed away in 2008, but Lowe has nurtured his father’s musical legacy as a standout singer, songwriter, and bandleader of Americana music As a founding member of Cat Mother & the All Night Newsboys in ‘60s New York, Lowe’s father Roy Michaels worked closely with Jimi Hendrix(who produced Cat Mother’s first album) and shared bills with many in the rock pantheon. Wandering Father, Forgotten Son, Lowe’s second record, is a bridge between the the ghost of a father who drifted to Thailand and a son who was left to fit the pieces together..

Can you tell us about yourself? Where you’re from and what you’ve been up to over the past few years?

I’m culturally Yankee and ethnically hippy. I find myself sorta wedged in that space between modernity and tradition. I split my time between teaching pre-k at an elementary school that serves low income students and trying to create a coherent musical aesthetic. It’s an emotional tightrope for sure.

How would you describe your music?

Bluegrass is my first musical love but I have a deep affinity for pre-WWII  rural American music as well. I try to create space for the bluegrass push and the old time bounce in my sets. That being said, my time in Austin has really hipped me to western swing and honky tonk so that’s there too. My main focus recently has been on song writing. I started as a topical writer and have tried to push myself to write more self-reflective songs using a literary approach.

Can you tell us a little bit about your influences?

In the last year Randy Newman, Slaid Cleaves and especially Todd Snider have driven my writing. My foundations though are rooted in Bill Monroe, John Hartford, Frank Wakefield, NRBQ, The Holy Modal Rounders and a lot of pre-war blues guys. My band of Andy Lentz, Josh oag, Steve Schwelling and Jeremy Wade have changed my whole way of thinking about music. Most importantly, my peers like Brennen Leigh, Noel McKay, Leo Rondeau, Todd Grebe UK native Sophie Johnson and Matt Sircely have shaped me. Oh and way Danny Barnes!

What are you currently promoting?

My new record is “Wandering Father, Forgotten Son” is a cross-plain collaboration between my late father and half are mine. It took almost two years to make with my producer Ben Sanders, and I’m really proud of how it came out.

Have you got a particular song you’ve done that you’re particularly proud of, one that might define you?

I was told to treat all my songs as my children so I guess whatever is my youngest is my favorite. On my new release though, I guess About a Dying Father is the most personal. My father moved to Thailand when I was two and my mother raised me alone. That song is an imagining of the regrets my father may have had as he was passing away. I think it was an outlet for me to project some of my frustration with what I saw as justifications for irresponsible behaviour on his part.

What are you currently listening to?

Norman Blake always ends up in my rotation.  Danny Barnes, High Plains Jamboree, Sam Amidon, Steve James and a ton of Robbie Fulks. I love people who get better as they age.

And your favourite album of all time, the one you couldn’t do without?

Aw…That’s so hard. For repeat listening forever…Good Old Boys by Randy Newman? The complete recordings of the Mississippi Sheiks? Pizza Box by Danny Barnes? Who knows. Not me and I’m pretty sure I should be an expert on that question!

What are your hopes for your future career?

I really want to have a sustainable existence through music where I can write songs that are meaningful to me, set to the musical landscapes I seen joy, for audiences that dig what I’m about with musicians I like and respect.

If money were no object what would be your dream project?

It’d be a long series of singles and EPs that would allow me to be responsive to my needs as an individual while meeting the needs of my community. Also having Aphex Twin produce a record of mine would be amazing.

What’s the best thing about being a musician?

It is a pretty direct line to the self. In the disconnect, screen filled world of today it can be a beautiful refuge. Also the people you meet are pretty amazing.

And the worst?

Money.

Finally, have you anything you’d like to say to the readers of Americana UK?

I’d love the chance to come over and play for yall. If anyof you have any ideas please shoot’em my way. Thanks for reading and listening.

Author: Rudie Humphrey

Rudie is the weekly host of the syndicated radio show - The Horseshoe Lounge Music Session - playing the best American Roots and hosting terrific live guests.

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