Lauren Hutchison | Staff Writer
Singer and guitarist Kev Rowe returns to the College Club at 9 p.m. tonight for an evening of original acoustic folk music. Rowe, a native of Jamestown, N.Y., has been playing at the College Club for more than 10 years. He said he finds the energy at Chautauqua inspiring.
“That’s the way I feel when I walk in the Main Gate,” he said. “The creative juices just start flowing, and you’re in an entirely different atmosphere.”
Rowe tours the eastern states as both a solo artist and the lead guitarist for the Americana band Big Leg Emma. As a solo artist, he recently opened for the band America at the Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria, Va. Rowe recorded his third album, “Hi Love,” with producer Danny Kadar at Echo Mountain Recording Studio in Asheville, N.C.
The album was partly inspired by Rowe’s work in social and cognitive therapy for autistic children in South Carolina. He said the experience opened him to a world he knew nothing about.
“I got so involved in their thought processes and their social emotions and the way that they saw the rest of the world that it was really affecting my music outside of the therapy,” he said.
When Rowe returned to Jamestown, he continued working with children as a tutor for Chautauqua Striders.
“To hang out with kids really inspires me and gives me a fresh outlook on life and the world that we live in,” he said. “I feel that can really give you a unique edge in songwriting.”
Rowe also draws inspiration from folk music greats like Bob Dylan and James Taylor. He works to put his own stamp on the genre by being part of a tradition of great songwriting and by creating intimate music.
“It’s mostly about intimacy and creating a moment that people can immediately fall into emotionally without being sappy or corny,” he said. “It has to be believable. It has to be something you can feel, deep down in your soul, as a writer and a singer. While it’s coming out, it has to truly mean something to me in order for someone else to feel that.”
Though Rowe enjoys the strength in numbers and collective energy of playing in a band, he likes the freedom, flexibility and one-on-one connections he experiences as a solo performer.
“While I’m (performing), I’m examining the way that I personally feel or the way that I see someone else feeling,” he said. “As long as the connection is real between my songs and the people who are liking them, then that’s really all that matters to me.”
After Chautauqua, Rowe will continue touring. He is currently working on material for a fourth album. Rowe’s fellow Big Leg Emma musicians, Steve Johnson and Charity Nuse, will play at 9 p.m. July 19 at the College Club.
The College Club is open to ages 17 and up. Admission is free and requires a gate pass and photo I.D.