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A True Troubadour Of The Highway

By Gary Wien

originally published: 09/25/2006
There are people who think they have lived interesting lives and those who wish they had, but only a few have ever lived the kind of life of Peter Case. The singer-songwriter best known for his days as the lead singer of The Plimsouls ("A Million Miles Away") will be releasing a new record in the next few months to go along with his first book - "As Far As You Can Get Without A Passport". The book shares stories from Case's life as a musician living on the streets of San Francisco.

Peter will be coming to the area on Sunday, October 15th for an intimate performance as part of the Concerts In The Studio series located in Freehold, NJ. The show starts at 3pm. For more information visit www.concertsinthestudio.com

Your upcoming show in Freehold is technically a "house concert" - have you done those before?
Yeah, I have. Every year it seems like I'm doing more. Generally they're pretty good. Every once in a while you get a crazy one, but usually they're really good. The thing that's really great about them is the people at the shows are really into the music. They're real fans.

You have a new record coming out in a few months, will you be playing material from the upcoming record at the show?
Yes, that's what I'll be playing a lot of. I'll be playing older songs too, but I'm trying to break in some of the new ones on the road. I've done them before but this will be a whole tour where I'm working them in. Many are songs about now.

Are the songs political?
A few of them are. I don't know if they're political, but they talk about this society and there's definitely songs on there about justice. That seems like a big aspect.

It seems like it's kind of hard for politics not to creep into songwriting with everything so one side or the other these days.
I guess. They say politics is who's doing what to who. That's the definition of it. A certain group is really doing a lot to another group and that's what's going on in the states here. It's going on around the world really.
The attention of politics has gone up because of the drive of one particular group of perpetrators of who does what to whom. And so people who are generally silent about politics are speaking out.

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I noticed you have a blog on your website. How do you feel about blogs? It looks like you do some real in-depth blogging there.
Yeah. Basically I use it as a tool to teach myself to write prose. I've written prose ever since I was a kid, but I've never written as much as I have for the last couple of years. I'm a blogger now and the author of a book, which is different from writing a blog. You have to take it farther, but the blog has got me writing a lot. I guess just having the Internet in general - emails and such - started getting me writing again.

But with having a blog I started communicating with my audience. It was fun to do. I try to write my best in a blog. It's not like "I got up today and I had ice cream at the 7-11" or that kind of blogging. You get into some things you're thinking and feeling. And then I started writing some stories and putting them up there. I wrote this whole book that's coming out and I wrote it real time on a blog over a couple of weeks. I was posting every day sort of like a serial. I've re-written it now but it was a big learning curve.

I think blogs are good. I've always thought if Woody Guthrie was alive now he'd be a blogger.

Speaking of the book, is it about your travel experiences?
Well, this is just part one and there's a lot of traveling going on at that point so yeah. The book's called "As Far As You Can Go Without A Passport". It's not out yet, maybe in a month or so. It's about an early period when I left home and came west and another period when I started playing on the streets. It was during the same period that I became a street musician and I began living on the streets. And one point of the book goes down to Mexico.

Everybody made that trek but my story is a bit like the Anti-Chronicles. Bob Dylan has his book about an ascent to the top of the culture but my book is more a story of the streets and someone finding what's meaningful to them in turns of music and life and love. And it comes from a point of view of the streets.

Where will the book be available?
It'll be available through the book seller's website
(acapellabooks.com) and through independent book stores.

For years you tried leaving your Plimsouls history behind, why did you get that band back together?
The Plimsouls have been doing this latest run for about two years. We got back together in '95 and we never really broke up again. So the band's been together since then and we've been active the last three years or so.

Every once and a while it's a great thing to do. The band has its own sound. It's like stripped down rock and roll - a very intense rock and roll sound but a fun rock and roll sound too, one based on 50s and 60s rock and roll.

It's like something we've broken in that we can do. We've played thousands of gigs together so we've got a great sound. People aske me why we're doing it. I say because we can. It's so much fun and people seem to like it. I just embraced both sides of my career - my solo side and my rock and roll side.

We're gonna have a new album. We're going to try but we haven't done it yet. I'm fully dedicated to my solo career and the other guys in the Plimsouls are busy. We'll hopefully have a record out over the winter.

Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at gary@newjerseystage.com.

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