Making a Scene Presents an Interview with Sarah and Claire Bowman of “The Bowmans”
In 2016, Sarah and Claire Bowman lost their mother, Anne Corbi, an acclaimed community activist, brilliant legal mind, and at times, an intimidating and aggressive person. Until the time of her death, Anne gave many things to Sarah and Claire: compassion for those less fortunate, a formal musical education, and a passion for justice; but also, she gave them each an unparalleled and relentless inner critic.
The songs on their current effort, Scrutiny, result from an unexpected side-effect of grief, empowerment. After her mom’s passing, Sarah, The Bowmans’ primary songwriter, felt liberated to finally see herself truly and speak about her life’s events, including painful childhood memories that might have otherwise remained locked away.
Scrutiny contains highly personal subject matter. Themes include family dysfunction, coping mechanisms, destructive societal norms, and overcoming mental illness. However, the music doesn’t buckle under the weight of its content. Many of the songs carry a groove and infectious upbeat choruses reminiscent of the alt-rock, grunge, and 80s pop that Sarah and Claire were into during their formative years. Scrutiny finds a way of being light without making light of personal struggles.
Sarah and Claire are seasoned performers. They often take audiences on a captivating emotional roller coaster ride with humorous sister banter weaved in. They had an extensive run from 2006-2011 when they lived in New York City and toured consistently in the USA and Europe, playing hundreds of shows a year at reputable venues.
During this time, they amassed a significant following and were well represented in press and on national and regional radio in several regions of Europe, the U.K., and the U.S. Bob Harris of BBC Radio 2 was a champion, and NPR’s All Songs Considered were supporters. During this time they gained high-profile fans such as The Avett Brothers, Jim Lauderdale, Buddy Miller, Gillian Welch, and Dave Rawlings.
Before their latest release, Scrutiny, The Bowmans recorded four full-length albums. Far from Home (2007) was released on Mother West, their Self-titled album (2009) was produced by Grammy-winning Malcolm Burn, Live at Powerplay Studios (2010) and Make Sure the Snow Falls (2013) featuring Scott Avett of the Avett Brothers on banjo. In collaboration with this release, Claire wrote and illustrated a children’s storybook based on the lyrics of Sarah’s songs.
The Bowmans are members of a strong community of songwriters that they’ve known since they honed their craft in New York City. Largely active in the singer-songwriter, anti-folk, indie, and Americana scenes, they have toured with performed with Anais Mitchell, Nicole Atkins, The Avett Brothers, and My Brightest Diamond, among others. Sarah also performed in the critically acclaimed Goth band Rasputina. Among many notable performances was a show with Robyn Hitchcock at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and a U.S. tour with Les Claypool’s Fancy Band (Primus.)
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