Album Review: Peter Parcek
Artist: Peter Parcek Album Title: Mississippi Suitcase Release: 2020 This is a stellar 11 song set that was nominated in 2021 for a Blues Music Award in the Blues Rock Album of The Year category. Simply put, there isn't a weak spot. It has everything that a modern blues effort needs to standout from the sea of new records. Great production, vocals, songs and playing. It is rooted in tradition, while still inching the music forward. The vocals are naturally raspy and the guitar playing is impeccable. The first thing that jumped out for me after a thorough listen was a modern blues approach in recording and songwriting, but the guitar seems to have stopped at The British Blues Invasion of the late 60's, yet doesn't feel dated in any way. The tone is modern and rich, but the playing feels more influenced by what came before Hendrix than after. It has moments of burning hot, but not quite catching fire, which I mean as the highest compliment. The band is as solid as granite, never overstepping the lines that keep the music in the blues genre and never losing the always illusive pocket. One of my favorite tracks is "Until My Love Come Down". An eight minute slow burn that opens with a perfectly distorted slippery guitar lead. It's a classic 12 Bar Blues that is swimming in conviction and a deep understanding of the power of restraint, while still showcasing some serious blues chops.The fact that the track is as long as it is and doesn't grow old is a testament to the musicians mastery of the craft. The very next song "She Likes To Boogie Real Low" is an instrumental that showcases a deep blues vocabulary. A classic Chicago groove that has been referred to as a "flat tire shuffle" features a guitar that sits on top of the groove like a boat is on the ocean and not in the ocean, gracefully floating on a rhythm section that can shuffle with the best of them. My favorite cut is "Everybody Oughta Make A Change". It has a slow train beat pushing the song forward like a locomotive. Peter's vocals are an uncommon combination of relaxed and gritty. The kind of smokey flavor that only comes from a long slow cooking. The guitar playing and vocals are an example of the contrast between wisdom and knowledge. The restraint to say nothing more than what needs to be said.
This record could've been reviewed perfectly in a few words. It simply is an exceptional set of blues. I highly recommend it to anyone that loves music. Not only the blues. It reminds me of Stevie Ray Vaughan in the sense that you don't need to be a blues fan to enjoy it. You just need ears and an open heart! I think this quote from Buddy Guy himself says it all. “You’re as bad as Eric Clapton. And I know Eric Clapton.”
Check out the interview with Peter Parcek as well
Who are your musical and non-musical influences? Musical - I am influenced by all of the greats of blues, jazz & roots music. Try to study as much & as deeply as possible. There is a lifetime of music to learn from.
Non-Musical - Art, Film & Photography; Fiction, Non-Fiction & Poetry; World Cultures.
What album has had the greatest impact on your life as a musician? The first two albums I bought had & continue to have an tremendous influence on me -
The Best of Muddy Waters & Moanin’ In The Moonlight by Howlin’ Wolf.
What song do you remember most from your childhood? I remember my mother singing songs from Mario Lanza
I remember songs from church.
I remember Howlin’ Wolf on Shindig.
What’s your favorite accomplishment as a musician thus far? Getting to play & record with Pinetop Perkins.
Getting to play on radio & in concert w/ Hubert Sumlin.
Tell me about your favorite performance in your career
There were several
1) Opening for The Grateful Dead at Wesleyan University
Jerry Garcia was kind & brilliant. He knew all the electric blues influences.
He advised me "don’t drink anything backstage”.
2) Performing at The Blues Music Awards (2011)
Buddy Guy, Tom Hambridge, Walter Trout & many others were so gracious & kind to me.
3) Touring w/ Pinetop Perkins.
Pinetop was kind, gracious & mentoring.
4) Appearing on WHRB radio & in concert at the original House Of Blues w/ Hubert Sumlin
Hubert was also very kind , gracious & mentoring.
What's the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you? Don’t practice on stage.
Take your time. What's new in the recording of your music? How has your music changed over the years? I feel it is getting deeper & more soulful (I hope). What inspires you to write the music you write? What made you want to play the instrument you play? Life experience, living the blues.
The guitar is so poetic & deep.
The sounds have such a range from orchestral to guttural. Do you feel like you are continuing to grow musically? Yes, I do aspire to continually grow artistically & musically
Music is an infinite search. If you could play anywhere or with anyone in the world, where or with who would it be? I would love to bring the guitar & music all over the world.
To reach people w/ the blues.
To touch them w/ the emotion & soul of the music. How does music affect you and the world around you? Music is like a lifeblood & a well spring.
It informs & nourishes. If you could change anything about the music industry today, what would it be? Selfishly- I would like more opportunities.
Altruistically - I would like to see more ages & cultures represented. What are your biggest obstacles as a musician? Self-taught - but this can also be a strength. What strengths do you have that you believe make you a great musician? Good ears, deep heart & soul. Do you have any weaknesses that you're actively working to improve on? Yes -improving communication between my mind, soul & hands. Describe your favorite and or least favorite part about being a musician. Moving gear. Do you have any anxiety about performing live? Do you like to perform or do you prefer to record in a studio? I do occasionally have performance anxiety.
I put a lot of pressure on myself to excel.
What do you think about online music sharing? Do you ever give your music away for free? Why? Depends on the format & purpose. Describe your creative process when you write new music. I have to be inspired. Tell us a fun fact about yourself. I am not a good cook. Other than being a musician, what was your dream job growing up? I wanted to be a baseball pitcher. Give us some advice for new musicians just starting out in the industry. Play from your heart & soul, play what you really feel & want to hear.
What is the best way to stay updated on current news; gigs, releases, etc. www.peterparcekband.com Anything you would like to share, from new merch to upcoming shows/tours or songs/albums? Starting work writing/demoing for a new record - very excited. Are you available for private parties? If so, how would someone contact you about booking? Please contact me at email@example.com