PETER CASE + DEAD ROCK WEST *CANCELLED* – Tickets – The Evening Muse – Charlotte, NC – January 17th, 2018


MaxxMusic & The Evening Muse Present


Wed, January 17, 2018

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 7:30 pm

The Evening Muse

Charlotte, NC


This event is all ages

I was born in Buffalo, New York in 1954, the youngest child in a family with two teenage sisters. The house was filled with music: Rock ‘n’ roll, Rhythm & Blues, jazz and folk; Elvis, the Everly Brothers, Ray Charles, and as the Sixties got underway, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and that gang.

As a little kid I played piano, ukulele, and harmonica; I took up saxophone in school, began playing guitar in 1965, and wrote my first song, “Stay Away.” I continued writing songs and playing in rock ‘n roll combos at dances in the area while listening to Dylan and the Rolling Stones and following the roots of their country, blues, and early rock ‘n’ roll origins. In 1968 I started playing coffeehouses while also continuing to perform with dance bands: this went on for a number of years.

At the beginning of my 16th year, I left home, moved in with musicians, and began to travel – New York, Washington, Boston – still listening to music and playing, learning from the musicians I met along the way.

In 1973, I left Buffalo in a blizzard on a midnight bus heading west. That spring in San Francisco I became a street musician, playing solo and busking with different players, including blues and rock ‘n’ roll hero, Mike Wilhelm of the Charlatans, and folk guitarist Tom Hobson. I was the main subject of a film that year, Night Shift, about SF street music, directed by Bert Deivert. I wrote about this period in detail in my book, As Far As You Can Get Without A Passport, which tells the story of a street-singing trip from Northern California to Mexico.

After beginning a collaboration with Jack Lee, a songwriter who’d just landed in California from Alaska, the Nerves were born in late 1974. The following year, Paul Collins joined the band; we played locally and recorded the “Hanging on the Telephone” EP, which was released in 1976. On the first day of 1977, the band relocated to Los Angeles and began performing and promoting LA’s first punk rock shows – including Hollywood’s Punk Rock Invasion featuring the the Weirdos, the Zeros, the Dils, and the Germs in their debut appearances. The Nerves were the first independent unsigned band to go on a national independent tour of the USA (plus Toronto) in the spring and summer of 1977. Playing our own brand of stripped-down, driving, melodic teenage rock’n’roll, touring with the Ramones, and sharing bills with Devo, Pere Ubu, and Mink DeVille during the first wave of American punk, we returned to LA to perform at the newly opened Masque. After racking up 28,000 miles on our Ford LTD, in early 1978, after playing one final show at the Whisky a Go Go, we broke up to pursue different directions.

That year I woodshedded, wrote songs, and put together the Plimsouls. We debuted January 1, 1979 in El Monte, CA and picked up where the Nerves left off adding maximum R&B and folk rock influences to the mix. Once we made our Hollywood debut on June 11, 1979, we immediately attracted a following. The Zero Hour EP was released on Long Beach’s Beat label and became a local hit on KROQ ‘s Rodney Bingenheimer show; then came the recording contract with Richard Perry’s Planet/Elektra label. Picking up fans from coast to coast, we toured nationally throughout 1981. We recorded the independent single, “A Million Miles Away” in the winter of that year and it was released in 1982 on the band’s own Shaky City label, in conjunction with Greg Shaw’s Bomp Records. The song was our biggest hit: a national college radio smash and international power pop/garage band classic. The Everywhere At Once album was released by Geffen Records in early 1983 and the band developed strong followings in Atlanta and Detroit, and throughout Texas and California, establishing a reputation for dynamic and wild live shows. We played our last gig on January 1, 1985.

The Nerves and the Plimsouls were always about putting songwriting first, and by 1983, my songs started reaching new places. Story songs started to come to me and I began to rediscover my roots as a musician. I moved to Texas and finished writing the Peter Case album which we began recording in Fort Worth with T Bone Burnett, then soon moved to LA and finished with Jerry Marotta, Van Dyke Parks, Roger McGuinn and others at Sunset Sound. I’ve been told the album had a big impact on musicians and listeners around the country – the opening salvo of a new singer-songwriter movement that would become known as Americana – and I was the first songwriter of my generation of musicians to turn from rock toward an acoustic sound. New York Times critic Robert Palmer called it the best album of 1986 and it got a five-star review in Rolling Stone; we toured extensively in the US with Jackson Browne and throughout Europe with a band. We received a Grammy nomination for the song, “Old Blue Car.”

The next album, 1989’s the man with the blue postmodern fragmented neo-traditionalist guitar, was self-produced with Steven Soles. A collaboration with a number of great musicians including Jim Keltner, Ry Cooder and David Hildago, the songs were about people left in the cold by a society built for winners. I toured nationally with a band and returned to make a final record for Geffen: Six-Pack of Love, produced by Mitchell Froom. “Vanishing Act” and “Dream About You” received significant radio and video play.

On the day I was released from the Geffen contract, I made the album I wanted to make for them with Marvin Etzioni: Peter Case Sings Like Hell, a collection of British folk and American country and blues with all the rough edges left on it. Sings Like Hell became some people’s favorite record of the period. The album was re-mastered and re-released by Vanguard, and I went on to record some of the best-received records of my career.

Torn Again (1995) was a return of the Blue Guitar production team of me, Soles, and Larry Hirsch, with songs that utilized dream imagery and the musicianship of Don Heffington and Greg Leisz. Full Service No Waiting (1998) was a unique-sounding, almost lo-fi record that is a favorite among fans. Flying Saucer Blues (2000), the companion piece to Full Service featured the seven minute racial profiling tour de force, “Two Heroes.” Beeline (2002) was a collection of hard-won love songs with electronic contributions from my son, Joshua. All three albums were produced by my old pal Andrew Williams who sang and played on “A Million Miles Away.”

The Vanguard years were a busy period marked by constant solo touring and a Plimsouls reunion in 1995, culminating in the release of Kool Trash in 1998. I also produced Avalon Blues: The Music of Mississippi John Hurt featuring Taj Mahal, Lucinda Williams, and Beck among others. This tribute to one of my blues heroes was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Folk Album category in 2001. That year I also cut a special project, Thank You St. Jude, with acoustic versions of some of my best known songs. In 2006, I was honored to be the subject of A Case For Case, a three disc set of my songs covered by fellow musicians like Dave Alvin, Chris Smither, James McMurtry, and many others. Many performances from this period of time were captured by filmmaker Tom Weber, for his full length documentary Troubador Blues.

In 2007, I received the Grammy nomination in the Best Traditional Folk category for Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John, produced by Ian Brennan for Yep Roc, and featuring contributions from Richard Thompson, Norm Hamlet (music director of Merle Haggard’s band), and Carlos Guitarlos. Following the economic crisis of 2008, my health crashed and I underwent an emergency surgery. Friends like T Bone, Van Dyke, Stan Ridgway, Dave Alvin, Richard Thompson, Loudon Wainwright III, and many more performed benefit shows that helped cover my medical expenses. Not long after the shows, I wrote and recorded the raw, electric blues rock ‘n’ roll record, Wig! with Ron Franklin and DJ Bonebrake, written and recorded in a three-day period.

Somewhere along the way, the Nerves – unbeknownst to any of us -were experiencing a resurgence with a whole new generation of fans. Bootlegs of the band’s early material had been circulating and we decided to make it official with the Alive Natural Sound Recordings reissue of the One Way Ticket EP and the Live at Pirate’s Cove LP. The Plimsouls also reemerged when we issued three well-received live albums: One Night in America (1981), Live, Beg Borrow and Steal (Live at the Whiskey in 1982) and Beach Town Confidential (Live at the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach, 1983). I consider these releases the most powerful evidence of our recorded legacy. Playing a series of electric shows that year in US with different configurations, the Peter Case Band toured Australia with the Flamin’ Groovies and the Hoodoo Gurus.

In 2012, I moved back to San Francisco and set about making my next record, HWY 62. Featuring guitar wizard Ben Harper and DJ Bonebrake, with songs about the current American conundrum, we recorded at Sheldon Gomberg’s Carriage House and released it through Omnivore Recordings in 2015. I was also happy for the label to reissue my debut solo album in expanded form in 2016. Looking forward to the songs 2017 brings…
“These are difficult days and we need more and more love,” says Frank Lee Drennen, songwriter, guitarist, and singer with Cindy Wasserman in the band Dead Rock West.

More Love, the pair's fourth album and first for Omnivore Recordings, was made under the California sun with producer John Doe and a studio full of special guests, yet Frank and Cindy's wraparound vocals remain the focal point over the course of its12 heartstrong songs.

“Frank played me the song 'More Love,' and I was so blown away, I thought, that's it!” says Cindy. “It became the inspiration for the harmonies and the song ideas for the entire record.”

The album was recorded, mixed, and mastered in LA by Grammy-winner Dave Way, with David J. Carpenter on bass, D.J. Bonebrake on drums, multi-instrumentalist Geoff Pearlman, keyboardist Phil Parlapiano, special guests Elliot Easton and Greg Leisz on guitars, and Mike Bolger on horns.

“This was a group effort; band, singers, engineer, producer all equal, all working toward a common, honest goal,” says Doe. “All of us in a room making real music, from the heart, from intuition, from aching and wanting, from beauty and the desert.”

From the opening love-affirming title song and throughout its passionate performances (including a surprising country-soul finale, Sam Cooke's “Bring It On Home To Me”), love is the tie that binds, though Frank counters, “For me, it's totally a non-concept album.” But whether it's their honeyed voices rubbing against the hard won guitar strums as on “Boundless Fearless Love,” or the whispers between lines of “Radio Silence,” the duo have an undeniably entwined singing style. Locked in, like all great vocal duos, their sound was characterized by the Los Angeles Times as “bent notes in tandem, musically summoning a flawless union.” (July 17, 2015)

“They are a modern day Gram and Emmylou singing songs that Otis and Carla would sing,” says Doe. "Somehow Cindy and Frank connect the dots between ’70s country and ’60s soul music."

The jingle jangle of the Byrds and the lyrical economy of Buddy Holly, Merle Haggard and Lou Reed inform Frank's writing style while Cindy loves American classics, from anonymous down home singers to the more sophisticated song styles of Smokey Robinson and vocal teams like Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. When paired with Doe and their family of collaborators, the result is positively transcendent and soul-stirring rock magic– the golden harmonies, the unbroken melodies that sound like love in action and that could only have been made in California.

Frank and Cindy's shared love of country, rock, and soul singing and songwriting has only grown deeper through their ongoing collaborations with three California songmen: Doe (of X, the Knitters, and the John Doe Band) Dave Alvin (of the Blasters and the Guilty Men and Women) and Peter Case (formerly of the Nerves and the Plimsouls and producer/arranger of Dead Rock West's second album, Bright Morning Stars).

“We call them the Holy Trinity,” says Cindy who sings on the road and in the studio with Doe, while Frank claims an early enounter with Case guided him toward finding his own spiritual style of secular songwriting.

“Peter's songs embraced regular people in common circumstances, yet they were personal, heartfelt, and deeply spiritul,” says Frank.

"Each one of them hits a spot where it's so exciting,” says Cindy. “They're all so different but the thread that connects them is they are amazing writers, such wordsmiths, and that they came from punk rock and turned that energy into incredible artistry.” Call them mentors or big brothers, “That they've taken us as their own is like a dream," says Cindy.

The dream started for Frank and Cindy on the Southern California club scene. Debuting in 2007 with the independent Honey and Salt, they followed with the aforementioned California spirituals collection, Bright Morning Stars, then received critical raves for 2015's It's Everly Time!, an homage to pioneering rock vocalists and songwriters, the Everly Brothers.

With More Love, Dead Rock West returns to original music with an indie/Americana bent. Pulling the songs together with a method he borrowed from songwriting legend, Guy Clark, Frank says, “I don't care how many years it takes me, I just wait until I have ten songs I want to put on a record.” As they developed the repertoire, “Cindy and I deconstructed the songs,” he explains. Switching roles as written in the verses and choruses, “There's something about that dynamic that allows for a deeper contrast than when you hear the traditional male/female parts sung," says Frank.

The added dimensions of road and recording experience contributed to the making of More Love as did an appreciation of the brevity and preciousness of life itself. Between records, both band members lost close family members – Frank's mother Nelda Gunn-Drennen and Cindy's brother, Rob Wasserman, the noted bassist. Music became a lifeline during the grieving spell.

”I just wouldn't be doing this if it weren't for Rob, honestly I wouldn't,” says Cindy whose brother introduced her to his collaborators like Lou Reed, Brian Wilson, and Stéphane Grappelli (who played with guitarist, Django Reinhardt). All these encounters made their imprints on Dead Rock West's own commitment to excellence, and to love, at all costs.

"More Love is heart and soul from two deeply original singers and songwriters,” says Doe, a true believer who's been witness to Dead Rock West's process as it continues to unfold.

“As Willie Dixon said to me when I was blessed to meet him some years ago,” says Cindy. “Happy or sad songs, they are all about love--more love.”
Venue Information:
The Evening Muse
3227 N. Davidson St.
Charlotte, NC