Don Lowe is a man of 21 talents. Professionally, he’s an adjunct professor who teaches composition and business writing at Naugatuck Valley Community College and public speaking at Mercy College. He tutors as well and teaches all subjects to “at risk” students for REACH in Newtown. In the Town of Sherman, he’s a well-known third term Selectman. Plus, he’s a part-time DJ for Pawling Public Radio and a regular host at Open Mic Night at the Towne Crier in Beacon, New York.
Adding to his repertoire, Lowe also happens to be an incredibly gifted singer, songwriter, and guitarist with a classic, southern and mid-western rock style. He’s recognized as a top musician within the community and throughout the tristate area. He sometimes also performs in Minnesota and North Dakota. His calendar of events is jam-packed. He plays at different venues every week throughout the year such as at festivals, town functions, and other hotspots like The Falcon in Marlboro, Dogwood Bar in Beacon, and Pawling Tavern in New York.
Recent accomplishments include opening for well-respected musicians like Steve Forbert, Chuck Brodsky, Antje Duvekot, Kenny White, Toby Walker, Danielle Miraglia, David Jacobs-Strain, Johnny A, The Dana Fuchs Band, Tracey Grammer, and Maria Sebastian. However, his most memorable venue was opening for Livingston Taylor, James Taylor’s brother, at the Towne Crier, in 2015.
Although Lowe’s “sound” is distinctively unique, one can detect a subtle John Cougar Mellencamp influence in some of his songs, like in “Brand New Cadillac,” “Red River,” and “Dinosaur Bones” off his second CD, “Out Here,” released in 2013. In some of his earlier songs from “Dogs, Clowns, and Belles,” released in 2010, one can also hear a slight Tom Petty influence. Currently, Lowe is working on selecting 12 out of 30 songs he wrote for his third CD, which is scheduled to be released this year.
There’s something identifiable, conversational, and relatable to all of Lowe’s original music, especially if one listens attentively to his lyrics. For example, “Saratoga Springs” tells a satirical story about a gambler betting on horses. “Boomtown” is about a family’s struggle to make ends meet in the oil country of North Dakota. “I’ll See What I Can Do” is simply an upbeat apology song for running late.
Locally, Lowe performs regularly at the Sherman Jewish Community Center and Amore Restaurant. Seeing him sing and play acoustic guitar at Amore’s, for instance, is always an enjoyable and engaging experience. His creative, funny, and laidback style captivates his audience. He mixes his original music with soft classic rock and pop music by Jimmy Buffet, Elton John, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, and Paul Simon, which takes listeners to an easy breezy, life is good state-of-mind. Master singer-songwriters John Prine, Guy Clark, and Steve Earle are also some of his influences.
When asked what Lowe’s all-time favorite original song is, he replied, “it’s ‘Last Call.’ It really speaks to my truth of what I care about and where I am from, which is North Dakota. It’s a completely honest song. I worked so hard on the song.” He also said how amazing it was for him to recently play in the very bar the song is about. His 12-year-old daughter, Rose, went on the small tour with him and sold CDs at this venue. With humor, he said, “my other favorite song is the song that I am working on now. I always think I’m writing my greatest song.”
As for when his interest in music began, “I started with the electric guitar and I wanted to play the rock blues when I was a Junior in high school,” he said. His musical influences, aka “the usual suspects from the late 1960s and early 1970s” are Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers, and Deep Purple. He was also in a few college rock bands. After graduating, Lowe stopped playing in bands and focused on his acting and theater career in Manhattan. He’s known for playing a recurring role as Dr. Jerry on the “Guiding Light” soap opera for seven years, from 1988 to 1995. He also played a boy on “All My Children” for six weeks. “I was always auditioning for contract roles and I was involved in several off-off Broadway shows,” he added. He was a music teacher as well.
Needing a change of pace and wanting to start a family, it wasn’t until Lowe moved to Sherman 16 years ago with his wife, Mary Ann, that he began to play music for an audience again. “I used my guitar a little with theater companies and comedy troops, and I always played personally. It just wasn’t until 2007 when I began to play my music publicly,” he said.
As for writing and composing original music, Lowe did this ever since he began playing guitar and never really stopped. “I started writing songs from almost the time I learned to play a few chords,” he said. He never sold a song. However, several musicians in the Greater Hudson Valley perform renditions of his music. “My writing is a form of self-expression and is my way of relaxing. Songwriting comes naturally to me whenever I’m playing my guitar,” he shared.
Lowe showcases his music and writing talents in other ways, too. He wrote the scripts for the last three “Songs to Symphony” shows for the Sherman School with music teacher Steve Trinchillo, and wrote a play about the Civil War for the Sherman Chamber Ensemble. He also wrote two off-off Broadway shows entitled “Drying Out” and “Another Fine Mess.” Currently, he is collaborating with his wife of 19 years, they’ve been together for 26 years, who is also a choreographer and dancer, and they’re writing a play together entitled “Long Way Far.” One of his songs, “Donna Reed,” is dedicated to Mary Ann. With a smile, he revealed her catchphrase, “you didn’t marry Donna Reed, I’m sorry.”
Don Lowe’s upcoming performances: Most Fridays at Amore Restaurant, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.; April 8 and April 30 at 850 Degrees Wood Fired Restaurant, 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Ridgefield; April 16 at Pawling Tavern, 9 p.m. to midnight; April 17 at Voices of Pawling, a WPWL fundraiser, noon to 3 p.m.; and May 14 at Merryall Community Arts Center, 8 p.m. in New Milford. For more information, visit: www.donlowesongs.com
Story and profile photos are by Alicia Sakal. Originally written for Town Tribune, April 7 Edition. Family photos are contributed.