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The Bowmans @ Joe’s Pub
March 3, 2007

Written by John Proctor
Photographed by Katherin Wermke

 


 

“One thing I have to tell you,” Claire Bowman informed me as she sat down with her sister Sarah to chat before the Bowmans’ first-ever show at Joe’s Pub, “is that you’ll have a hard time recording this conversation, since we have a tendency to start and finish each other’s sentences.”

She was right, which made it damn near impossible to quote from the interview (which you can listen to by clicking below) but is also emblematic of their musical relationship at the center of the Bowmans’ alternately gentle and rollicking brand of folk – harmonies that sometimes sound like recorded overdubs of the same person, relating songs of family, remembrance, the road, stuffed pigs and hula hoops.

The twin sisters, while nearly identical on first glance, came together musically through divergent paths; Sarah is a classically trained cellist, guitarist and music teacher who moonlights with Rasputina (undoubtedly the only multi-cello rock band), while Claire has degrees in philosophy and psychology and provides harmony vocals and the occasional glockenspiel. They spent quite a few years apart pursuing their own interests, but when Sarah moved to NYC a couple years ago, Claire soon followed.


Claire Bowman

After releasing their first album Far from Home independently last year, they’ve been gallivanting through Europe for the last couple months, signing a domestic record deal along the way, and leaving audiences sighing in their wake and buying copies of their now-rereleased debut album.

I first saw them last year at the CMJ showcase at the Living Room after a friend on MySpace had their “Make It Last” on her profile; I’m currently trying to find other ways to waste my spare time than traipsing about MySpace in search of good music, but the Bowmans were a prime find.

Now that they’re back home in the States, they had a homecoming gig at Joe’s Pub on Saturday, March 3. Kris Gruen, an Art Garfunkel-like folkie who didn’t seem to know how to operate his equipment (which in all fairness was probably the sound guy’s fault), opened with a set that uncomfortably showed he needed to rehearse more and explain less.

I was a little nervous for the Bowmans that he’d turn the crowd against them early, but they quickly pulled everyone out of their torpor with the slow-burning-to-crescendo “On the Road.” Once they’d settled into their groove they sprinkled a few more of the broodier tunes, but they covered all the bases of their mainstays, songs like the playground anthem “Diggin’ for Gold,” the wistfully driving “Make It Last,” and the almost painfully yearning “Forever.”


Claire and Sarah Bowman

By the end of their set, everyone on the packed room was singing, most were standing, and the twin sisters were beaming from the stage. If New York’s not Jim Croce’s home, no wonder the Bowmans are anti-folk.

Listen to the Bowmans at www.myspace.com/thebowmans

Get a double shot as the Bowmans open (and Sarah Bowman plays cello) for Rasputina on April 6 at Gramercy Theater.

Listen to the Bowmans talk to me about European vs. American venues, Sarah's side gig with Rasputina, and the anti-folk scene here


Sarah Bowman


Claire and Sarah Bowman


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