Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 11 - Jul. 2001
000-40SPR (Peter Rowan)
From bluegrass and folk to acoustic fusion and Tex-Mex, Peter Rowan personifies American roots music. With his distinctive voice, fine rhythm guitar work and deft songwriting, he has helped fuel the traditional – and non-traditional – acoustic music revival for nearly 40 years, as a solo artist and as frontman for several benchmark groups. A loyal Martin player his entire career, Rowan inspired and helped create the Signature Edition guitar that bears his name: the 000-40SPR Peter Rowan "Midnight Moonlight" model.
The 000-40SPR "Midnight Moonlight" Signature Edition draws its name from a well known Peter Rowan song, and its style from one of his vintage Martin guitars. A spectacular blend of classic design, prime tonewoods and unique appointments, the 000-40SPR is an instrument as versatile as Rowan himself.
Born into a musical family in Massachusetts, Peter Rowan formed his first band while still in high school. He soon found himself drawn to bluegrass and blues, and became a professional musician after college. In 1964, he joined Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys as singer and rhythm guitarist. He stayed with the "Father of Bluegrass" for three years, during which he began to write songs.
Soon after leaving Monroe, he teamed up with mandolin maestro David Grisman in the folk-rock band Earth Opera, which recorded a couple of albums and toured until the early 1970s. Two years later, after a stay in the rock fusion group Seatrain, Rowan joined Grisman again to sing and play bluegrass, first in Muleskinner with guitar wizard Clarence White (recently honored with the D-18CW Commemorative Edition Martin), and later in Old & In the Way, with Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia (who played banjo in the aggregation). Both groups were short lived, but their recordings spurred a youth movement in bluegrass.
In the late 1970s and through the 1980s, Rowan and his siblings Chris and Lorin recorded and toured as the Rowan Brothers. He also played Tex Mex rock with the Free Mexican Airforce, featuring accordion player Flaco Jiminez.
In the 1990s, Rowan showed his musical range in a string of well-received albums: bluegrass in "First Whippoorwill," "Bluegrass Boy" and "New Freedom Bell" (with Czech group Druha Trava), folk in "Dust Bowl Children," and world music in "Awake Me in the New World." "Yonder," a record recorded with slide master Jerry Douglas, received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Folk Album. He also became a major concert attraction, in recent years touring extensively with flatpicking icon Tony Rice.
Named for a song he wrote and first performed with Old & In The Way, the 000-40SPR Peter Rowan "Midnight Moonlight" Signature Edition model is based on Martin’s classic 000 12-fret design, Rowan’s personal favorite. Equally impressive fingerpicked or flat-picked, it has been enhanced with fine tonewoods and unique appointments to create a truly spectacular instrument.
The 000-40SPR features back and sides of solid genuine mahogany and a top of solid, premium quality book-matched Sitka spruce, a tonewood combination prized for tonal richness and clarity. Traditional hand-scalloped top braces bring these woods to their full sound potential.
The body is paired with a 1 13/16" neck of genuine mahogany. In the tradition of 000 12-frets from the 1920s and early 1930s, the modified V-shaped neck features a tapered, slotted headstock, squared slots equipped with nickel Waverly side mount, open geared tuners with butterbean knobs, and a diamond volute. The neck is fitted with a bone nut, matched by a bone saddle on the traditional pyramid bridge.
The 000-40SPR’s appointments are uniquely beautiful. Tinted with aging toner, the top showcases black/white/black/white purfling against tortoise colored binding, in complement to the black/white purfling and tortoise colored binding on the back and sides, and the black/white line inlays and tortoise colored binding on the fingerboard and headstock. The end piece and heelcap are tortoise colored and accented with black/white edge inlays. In vivid contrast, the style 45 soundhole rosette features brilliant blue paua shell inlay. The top is protected by a tortoise colored, polished and beveled OM teardrop pickguard, and the entire body is hand polished to a gloss finish.