The final show of 2022 presented by Newport Live (formerly Common Fence Music) is coming to the LaFarge Arts Center (Newport Congregational Church, 73 Pelham Street), on Saturday, December 10th at 7:30 PM. Headliner Sean Rowe and opener Mary-Elaine Jenkins, both highly regarded folk/roots artists, will kick off a great night of music.

More on Sean Rowe:

Sean Rowe knows he cuts an imposing figure. He boasts a bouncer’s build, biker’s hair, and a voice lower than Johnny Cash with a head cold. “It can be intense,” he says, with a laugh.”

“Sean Rowe discovered the aged and toned soul of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, as well as the well-produced spectacles of Marvin Gaye, The Beach Boys, and Elvis Presley at a young age. Flash-forward some years, and that inspiration has steeped long enough to bring about the thunderous blues-folk and soulful, gravelly booms of Rowe’s own music. Sean ventured to Sam Phillips Recording studio in Memphis to work with Matt Ross-Spang. They tapped into the history of the legendary space to hone a sound that is at once rich and stark, putting Rowe’s deep and dynamic sound at the forefront. Because if high notes can shatter windows, Rowe’s low and guttural ones can meld sand into glass.

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Rowe sings in a dark-brewed baritone, deep, rich, and sturdy. Because he also favors conversational phrasing, it’s hard to listen without thinking of Leonard Cohen. It helps that his lyrics allude so often to wine, religion, and a tactile kind of love. His timbre, which most recalls Gil-Scott Heron’s, has a lovely, tawny tone. The singer has been playing clubs near his home in upstate Troy for years. The rural setting shows in his music, a rustic brand of art-folk that takes special note of the physicality of the guitar. Rowe fashioned his debut, in part, as an ode to the unamplified six-string. pair acoustic and electric guitar in pings and chimes that mirror the strategy of The Edge in U2, but inverted. Instead of grand and valiant, it’s internalized and intimate.

“To some degree or another, all of my songs seem to be about relationships,” he says. “I don’t mean that to say a romantic relationship necessarily, it’s just all about the relationship to everything—to nature, or to my son, my body, my mind, my partner. The inner world is the most fascinating to me.” Rowe’s writing remains rooted in introspection. “I tend to not write much politically,” he adds. “It’s not like I don’t have opinions, it’s just that I find that inner life is infinitely more fascinating to write about, because of the mystery involved.”

“My music isn’t glossy or shiny,” Rowe says. “But it’s true.”

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General Admission tickets for the show are $35 and available through EventBrite and via Newport Live. Doors open at 6:30.

More on Mary Elaine Jenkins:

Mary-Elaine Jenkins is a Brooklyn-based songwriter, singer, and guitarist. A native of the South Carolina Lowcountry, her sound combines manifold influences with a distinctly southern sensibility. MEJ has been named among “5 Up-And-Coming Women Musicians You Should Know About” (Bust Magazine), described as “standing righteously above other young pretenders” (Glide Magazine), and her voice has been called “a mix of cloves, sage, ash, thorns, and honey” (The Deli NYC). She is a fixture in the New York music scene, has toured Europe, and has supported artists such as Martha Wainwright, Birds of Chicago, and Courtney Marie Andrews.

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