Tuesday, June 19 , 2018, 8:26 pm | Fair 62º


Jeff Moehlis: Making the Case for Peter Case

Acclaimed artist will perform at Tales from the Tavern in Santa Ynez

Peter Case will be performing at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez on Wednesday as part of the Tales from the Tavern series. Click to view larger
Peter Case will be performing at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez on Wednesday as part of the Tales from the Tavern series. (Greg Allen photo)

Peter Case is kind of hard to categorize. For the past 30 years, he primarily has been a solo artist in the Americana vein, but with a bit more bite than you might expect from that description. That bite probably comes from his earlier musical adventures as a founding member of the short-lived power pop band The Nerves, which toured with the Ramones and The Plimsouls, whose best-known song, "A Million Miles Away," was on the soundtrack to Valley Girl.

Case makes a return visit to these parts to perform at Tales from the Tavern on Wednesday at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez. Tickets for this show, also with bluesman Corky Siegel on the program, are available by clicking here.

Case talked to Noozhawk about the upcoming show and his long and varied career in music.

                                                                        •        •

Jeff Moehlis: I know that you've played at Tales from the Tavern before. What do you find special about that performance series?

Peter Case: I like that series a lot. It's been a lot of fun playing it in the past. I haven't done it for a couple of years, but I really enjoyed it every time. It's a great audience. I love the thing they've forged up there. They've sort of educated an audience and created a really nice environment for this kind of music. It's a real great ambiance and a great place to see a show.

JM: What can people look forward to at your performance?

PC: I'm going to be playing songs from all different parts of my career. I go back from the beginning to the most recent things. Besides being sort of a singer/songwriter show, it's also really like a musical thing. My heroes in music have been people who really brought a lot to acoustic music, like a lot of the old blues players. I don't play a whole lot of blues, but I definitely grew up playing that. So I bring a lot of that kind of intensity — not just intensity, but dynamics to the show. It's an entertaining thing, and I think that people dig it. It goes through a whole lot of different kinds of music. It's melodic as well as storytelling. I think people will enjoy it.

JM: Can you reflect a bit about your first solo album, which turns 30 this year?

PC: It was a very exciting thing, and it was a big period of growth. It was sort of the basis for everything that was going to come, to follow that, in a way, for me since then. I think I was the first person from my generation ... . I was out there on tour with the Ramones in '77, a part of the punk generation. I was a little ahead of the punk generation, with The Nerves, you know? I think I was the first person from that age group to bring back the idea of being a singer/songwriter, to go out and tour like that as a solo singer/songwriter. It was a thing that caught on with a lot of people. It sort of gave people an idea that they could do a new kind of music. So I felt like I was part of a cultural change there.

JM: To connect with the present, how did your approach to that first solo album differ from your approach to your latest album, HWY 62?

PC: I still have the same standards, in terms of trying to make every song great on an album. I really believe in songwriting, and so I'm trying to make every song be great. I'm trying not to do any filler. Every word is important in a song, and I write like that, trying to make the whole thing happen. I don't just put records out on a yearly basis. I try to wait until I've really got a record that is worth listening to all the way through.

These songs on the new record are based on different things going on in America. There are songs about the justice system, there are songs about musicians trying to cope with the music business, a song called "New Mexico." There's a song about evictions, and there's a song about a guy waiting on a plane at a 2016 airport. It's all different things, but it's a picture of now. I'm trying to make it as dynamic as possible.

How's it different? I produced it. I totally took control of this record and produced it myself, with Sheldon Gomberg.

JM: Do you have any new recordings in the works? Are you working on new songs all the time?

PC: Yeah, I'm getting ready to probably make a record in the winter. I'm writing it right now. There's another record that came out just for the Kickstarter people. I probably will have copies of it at this gig. It's a record that was done simultaneously with HWY 62. It's only available at the gig. It's called Lost Songs and Outside Favorites. It's a different kind of record for me. So there's that — that's the new record I have right now.

Then the 30th anniversary of that other record comes out in September, so I'll have that record also at the gig. That's my first solo record on CD with seven new tracks, and an essay that I wrote about it and a bunch of pictures. Then I'm hoping to have a record ready — it's going to be a little bit of a departure for me. I don't really want to go into it, but I'm really excited about it. We'll be cutting that I think in January or February. It'll be out next spring or something. That's all I can say about it. But I'm excited about it. I've been writing all the time, and I have a ton of stuff, so we'll see what happens.

I'm really looking forward to the gig up there. I enjoy playing in Santa Ynez, so it should be a lot of fun. I'm going out on the road — it's the start of the tour for the fall. I'll be on the road pretty much until December. I'll be going all around the country. But this is at the very beginning of it, and it's always really fun to play up there for the Tales from the Tavern thing. So I'm really looking forward to it. And I like to talk to audiences. I play songs and I tell stories — it's the whole thing. I just bring everything I've got to it. I really love doing it. Should be a gas! It'll be a great gig.

Click here to read the full interview with Peter Case.

— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his web site, music-illuminati.com. The opinions expressed are his own.

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