His career has spanned decades and Peter Rowan will be honored this September at the IBMA awards as an inductee into the Hall of Fame. We are proud to be a small part of his musical journey and are happy for the acknowledgement to his legendary career that has spanned decades starting as a Bluegrass Boy with Bill Monroe. Peter took his musical journey in many different directions, sharing cultures in his songwriting that will keep living on for future listeners and players to enjoy.
Peter is special to us here in Thompson guitars for several reasons, one being that the connection between Preston and Christine Funk was made via Peter Rowan. Preston and Christine met by way of her documentary called The Tao of Bluegrass; A Portrait of Peter Rowan that she showed in Sisters shortly after Thompson guitars set up shop. Until that weekend, Christine didn’t realize the full extent of the history between Peter and Preston.
Peter met Preston in the 1980’s at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS where Preston was selling his guitars. Peter was intrigued about these guitars because his friend Charles Sawtelle had a Thompson in his collection and raved about it’s sound. Peter ended up purchasing his first 000-12 Fret at the festival. Over the years Preston and Charles became good friends and studied some of Charles’s old vintage Martin guitars. One of those special guitars landed with Peter after the passing of Charles in 1999. Here is a video of Peter talking with Preston about Charles and acquiring his 000 Thompson.
Peter reconnected with Thompson guitars when Preston, Dan Stewart and David Blakeslee started the current company PK Thompson Guitars, LLC in Oregon. This is where Preston, as an individual builder, hired, one at a time, an experienced crew to pass on his processes, as well as, incorporate their knowledge in how to make more than one guitar at a time.
It has been quite the journey and we are thankful for the connection to Peter and his friendship. Christine ultimately moved back to her home state of Oregon from Colorado to work at Thompson in 2015. She recently became a partial owner of Thompson guitars after taking the reins of the company when Preston passed in 2019. Her dedication in carrying on the legacy of Preston’s vision is steeped in commitment to deliver the most excellent handmade custom guitars by the talented luthiers that work at the shop. The crew works hard and is very proud of what they ship each week to customers and dealers.
We are sad that Preston isn’t here to share in the honoring of Peter, but know that he would be extremely proud of PK Thompson Guitars offering up a limited edition Peter Rowan signature model. When Christine reached out to Peter about this idea he was excited to put his creative touch on a guitar that would be a part of Thompson’s continued history.
We are about to take final photos of this 0000 – BA next week and will share it at the upcoming Fretboard Journal Summit in Chicago. The Peter Rowan limited series of 15 guitars will be offered in either a 0000 model or Dreadnought with an Adirondack Spruce top and choice of East Indian, Madagascar or Brazilian Rosewood. We have some process photos available and more spec and pricing information here.