Brent Rowan and Pat McLaughlin take over Strings stage Sunday in Steamboat |

Brent Rowan and Pat McLaughlin take over Strings stage Sunday in Steamboat

courtesy of Kristine Kilbourne
Guitarist and producer Brent Rowan plays at Strings Music Festival on Sunday, July 7, with special guest Pat McLaughlin.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Five-time Country Music Association Instrumentalist of the Year nominee, studio guitarist and producer Brent Rowan and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter-guitarist Pat McLaughlin have known each other for awhile. They ran in the same circles in the Nashville music industry, where Rowan lived for 30 years and where McLaughlin is still based.  

When Rowan was producing country singer Julie Roberts’ first single,  “Break Down Here,” he was looking for a “more soulful and more artistic” voice than a typical background singer would supply.

“So I called Pat,” Rowan said.

McLaughlin provided the raw emotion that Rowan was seeking for the track.

“It ended up being more of a duet than a background part,” Rowan said.

In 2012, Rowan moved his family to Steamboat Springs for a more active, nature-centric lifestyle. This past winter, he got a call from McLaughlin, who was in town on a ski trip. 

McLaughlin asked if Rowan wanted to come jam with the guys at the condo.

“We hadn’t connected in a co-playing situation before,” Rowan said. “So when that happened, my brain started turning. I asked him if he’d want to do a show together.”

Rowan and friends, with special guest McLaughlin, take the stage at Strings Music Festival at 8 p.m. Sunday, June 7. 

If you go

What: Brent Rowan & Friends with Special Guest Pat McLaughlin
When: 8 p.m. Sunday, July 7
Where: Strings Music Festival, 900 Strings Road
Tickets: start at $60; purchase at

“I’m really, really looking forward to it,” Rowan said. “My goal, always, as a player and producer, is to showcase the other person’s talent.”

That’s what he’s done in his recordings accompanying artists like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Shania Twain, Olivia Newton-John, Sting, Neil Diamond and Tim McGraw, and in his work producing for Blake Shelton, Faith Hill, Neal McCoy, Joe Nichols, Guy Penrod, Charley Pride, among others. Rowan has also taken center stage with his acoustic compositions, frequently used in film and TV.

Overall, Rowan hopes his audience will feel an emotional connection to the music. 

“When a song is really fast and flashy, it can move your brain. That’s necessary and valuable,” Rowan said. “But I’d rather someone feel an emotional attachment in their heart, not their brain, to the music they just experienced. I hope people really feel something authentic.”

This show will be Rowan’s 20th consecutive year to perform at Strings. 

“Playing at Strings feels like home. It’s just warm and fuzzy and a living room to me,” he said. “At Strings, I get to introduce my musical family to my Steamboat family, and my Steamboat family to my musical family, and see that growth of appreciation from both sides. I love that.” 

For more information and to purchase tickets to the show, visit

Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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