Peter Case back in town for documentary screening, performance
by Mick Rhodes | email@example.com
Several of those interviewed for the new documentary, “Peter Case: a Million Miles Away,” said they believe the acclaimed, twice Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and author should be playing larger venues, and that more people should be aware of his wide-ranging catalog. Case has no such grievances.
“I mean, that’s not what it’s about,” Case told the Courier. “Some of the greatest people, they never played big rooms. My heroes are blues singers and poets, like I said in the movie. Sometimes you play bigger rooms and sometimes you play smaller rooms. I played a beautiful place the other night in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the night before I played a pretty rough place over in Albuquerque. So it just goes from night to night, y’know?”
Case will be in Claremont twice next weekend: at 6:30 p.m. Friday, December 1 for a free and open to the public screening of “Peter Case: a Million Miles Away,” followed by a Q&A, at Benson Auditorium, 1050 N. Mills Ave., Claremont, CA 91711. Reservations are required at eventbrite.com, search “Peter Case.” On Saturday, December 2 he will give a 7 p.m. performance at the Folk Music Center, 220 Yale Ave., Claremont, CA 91711. Tickets are $25 in advance at the store or at the door. Info is at (909) 624-2928 or folkmusiccenter.com.
The Folk Music Center “is one of my favorite places to play in the country,” he said, singling out Manager Ellen Harper, longtime FMC employee Jerry O’Sullivan, and owner Ben Harper for their hospitality over the many years he’s been appearing there. “I love the people out there, so I’m really looking forward to it. It’s always a special night at the Folk Music Center and I love playing there.”
Case released his 16th solo record, “Doctor Moan,” earlier this year. He’ll turn 70 in April, and as his been the case for most of the past 30 years, he is still on the road more than 100 days per year.
“I’ll be toning it down a bit now that I’m nearly 70. When I hit 70 I might just start taking the good gigs,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve got friends everywhere at this point. I’ve been on the road forever, so I feel like the whole country is my hometown.”
Born near Buffalo, New York, he left home at 15 and made his way west to San Francisco in 1973, a moment captured brilliantly via archival footage in “Peter Case: a Million Miles Away.”
“It looks beautiful, out on the street in San Francisco,” Case said of the footage culled from the 1973 black and white short, “Night Shift,” shot by film student and director Bert Deivert, which captured a Case looking young and lithe, busking on a chilly weekday evening. “You can see the cars and the way the world looked in 1973. That was 50 years ago, man, I’m playing on the street. It was quite a find to get that footage and there’s quite a bit of it in the movie.
“It’s almost like another person, but I have been on the same path all my life, since I was about 14.”
“Because the story … it covers a lot of ground, and it brings people in. [Parnes] knows how to do that. It’s not the film I would have made — I would have had more about how actually how the songs are created and stuff like that — but it’s got a lot of the terrain of the whole thing in it, so it’s pretty great.”
Parnes took Case, a top-flight band, and vocalists Lady Blackbird and Chris Pierce into the legendary recording studio Sunset Sound in LA to cut several tracks for the film, including one of his best, “Two Angels,” off 1989’s “the man with the Blue post-modern fragmented neo-traditionalist Guitar.” The new version may be released as a single, Case said.
The film also includes newer footage from recent performances at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, the Folk Music Center here in Claremont, and Berkeley’s The Back Room, near Case’s longtime home in San Francisco. This combined with vintage imagery from throughout Case’s now 50 year career — much of it never seen before — as the aforementioned street performer in 1973, to his first band, punk rock progenitors The Nerves, on through to major label LA darlings The Plimsouls, for whom he penned the hit from which the documentary takes its name.
“That was quite a piece of detective work getting all that,” Case said of the archival footage. “For me what the joy of it was to see the other people in it and to see the way the world looked through [Deivert’s] lens. It was interesting.”
Case’s latest, “Doctor Moan,” released in January on Sunset Blvd. Records, is a primarily piano-driven 11-track jazz, blues and folk collection. Case plays piano, harmonica, mellotron and guitar, with Jonny Flaugher (Lady Blackbird, Pokey LaFarge) on bass, and Chris Joyner (Rickie Lee Jones, Ben Harper) on B-3 organ. The record is available everywhere music is sold these days, including at petercase.com.
Case will return to Europe in May with his friend Sid Griffin, he of alt-country pioneers The Long Ryders. The pair will play solo shows in England, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and The Netherlands, with more European dates in the works.
“I work hard and have been doing it for a long time,” Case said of touring. “I like being home. I like writing, and so I’ve got a lot of things I do the rest of the time. It’s hard going on the road. Maybe it’s coming down in numbers a little bit from there. But that’s what I’ve been doing for years.
“I’m not complaining. I’m still doing what I love and still trying to write the songs that are coming to me, and that’s a huge gift, so I’m just stickin’ with it.”
A free and open to the public screening of “Peter Case: a Million Miles Away,” followed by a Q&A with Case and director Fred Parnes, takes place at 6:30 p.m. Friday, December 1 at Benson Auditorium, 1050 N. Mills Ave., Claremont, CA 91711. Reservations are required at eventbrite.com, search “Peter Case.”
Case will give a 7 p.m. performance at the Folk Music Center, 220 Yale Ave., Claremont, CA 91711, on Saturday, December 2. Tickets are $25 in advance at the store or at the door. Info is at (909) 624-2928 or folkmusiccenter.com.