New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media

This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

Peter Prasa: Poets & Heroes

By Gary Wien

originally published: 07/23/2017

Peter Prasa: Poets & HeroesWhat do you do when your music doesn’t quite fit into any particular genre? 

In an industry that lives on nicely packaged descriptions like rock, jazz, and country, what happens when your music is all three? 

Somerville’s Peter Prasa found himself in that situation with the release of his second album, Poets & Heroes.  On, he chose to describe the record as Avant Garde and Avant-Americana.  Both make sense.  Songs on the album blend the sophistication of jazz with the wordsmith approach of a singer-songwriter.  They are like wonderful short stories that grab the listener and create a world of their own.

“It’s hard to classify my music,” explained Prasa.  “Singer-songwriter is what a lot of people said to do, but they say that area is saturated. It’s kind of Americana but there are different styles of music too.”

As the owner of Pianos Plus and a partner with Dragonfly Music & Coffee Cafe (Somerville), Prasa has been surrounded by various genres of music throughout his career.  A gifted piano tuner, he has worked for some of the biggest names in the business, often performing his own songs while soundchecking a piano before a show.  Every now and then the artists will listen to what he’s playing or even jam alongside him.  Moments like these are as rewarding as album sales.

The article continues after this ad


“When someone stops and says, ‘that song’s pretty cool’ and they’ve made it, it’s rewarding for me,” said Prasa.  “There are more songwriters and it’s more competitive now than its ever been.  It’s hard making a living in music.  It really is.  That’s why I’m a piano tuner and have my music shop.  It’s kept me on the fringe of music.  I always wanted to be a performer and write and share my music.  That stuff kept me in the loop.  I’m still on the fringe and I don’t know if I’ll ever jump in completely, but I jump in with my music this way.”

Prasa is hoping licensing his songs might be the trick.  He’s currently talking with music companies and has licensed his song ‘Trouble’ to a motorcycle commercial.  With any luck, this will just be the start for him.  Yet getting to this point is an achievement.  For years, Prasa found himself watching from the outside.  He wrote songs but wanted others to handle the vocals, never trusting his own voice. He was eventually convinced by others to give it a try. After taking vocal lessons and learning breathing techniques, he gained enough confidence to start performing live at open mic nights — something that would play a large role in his development.

Prasa hosted an open mic night at a bar in Bridgewater for 8 years.  He keeps that tradition going at Dragonfly where Thursday nights have become something special.  Long-time Jersey artists like Bruce Tunkel (Red House) and Mark Nuzzi (Soul Engines) not only take part in the open mics, but created The Susan Rumors band from those meet ups.

The open mic at Dragonfly is often packed with musicians.  The cafe has established a strong reputation throughout the state as a place with great sound that treats musicians with respect. Knowing how open mics helped him become a better performer, Prasa says he doesn’t say no to anybody and makes sure everyone gets to play.

“We get beginners, we get intermediates, and we get people who are knee knocking like I was when I first started,” continued Prasa.  “They’re stuttering because they are so nervous, but the open mics get you through that comfort zone where you can continue and come back every week.  It’s a cool vibe.”

The idea that everyone can develop into a better musician brings us back to the title of Prasa’s latest record, Poets & Heroes.  The soft, wistful song begins by declaring that, “everyone’s a poet” and offers the mantra of hope for a divided nation: “I pray the truth finds us all in time.”

Prasa says he wrote poetry years ago, but found it was easier for him to hear a song and its melody and then work on the lyrics based on whatever mood he was in at the time. The title track itself is a political statement inspired by a real life hero.  The inspiration was Shannon Johnson, a 45-year-old health inspector who was shot trying to shield a co-worker from gunfire during a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California.  Prasa still remembers seeing CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewing the woman saved by Johnson - a woman whose name was pronounced like his, but was spelled differently (Peraza).

“‘Poets & Heroes’ is about whoever you believe in.  They’re lying to us all of the time,” said Prasa.  “You’re just looking for some truth from someone.”

Even though this album is only a few months old, Prasa is already laying down tracks for his next album with Bruce Tunkel. Some are brand new songs, while others were written long ago and recently rediscovered on a compilation created by his son as a birthday gift.  The compilation included songs recorded in Prasa’s home on a 16-track Yamaha recorder years ago.  Out of the 30 odd songs, a few will be rerecorded for his next album.

Chances are that album will surprise people who think of Prasa as a solo artist.  Despite often performing by himself, his recordings are generally fleshed out with wonderful layers of instrumentation.  And thanks to years of open mics, he knows plenty of musicians to create those layers.  He’s paid his dues and still has the same passion he did when he first starting playing.  For him, there is no other way.

“I’ve always got to be in it,” said Prasa.  “It’s part of who you are and it’s a passion that has to be in you in order to survive whether you make it or not.”

Photo by Edward Pampani

For more by this author, click here

Jann Klose and The Voice's Josett Diaz To Perform At Ethical Brew To Benefit A Cause Close To Home
(TEANECK, NJ) -- On Saturday, December 8th, singer-songwriter and recording artist, Jann Klose will perform at Ethical Brew on behalf of Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center, a community arts and cultural center for children and teens located in Bronx, New York.  Doors open at 7:30, show begins at 8:00pm.
Kenny Chesney To Perform At Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
(ATLANTIC CITY, NJ) -- Focusing on smaller venues and markets not directly impacted by his massive stadium tours, Kenny Chesney sought to make his Songs for the Saints 2019 Tour mirror the intimacy of its namesake album. Inspired by the resilience of the people around him, Chesney doubles down on the human connection for his 2019 tour by seeking those members of No Shoes Nation who have spent the past decade and a half making the trip to stadium markets for what is now a summer tradition. On Saturday, May 11, 2019 he brings the tour to Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena in Atlantic City, NJ.
State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze on Friday, December 7 at 8:00pm, Saturday, December 8 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sunday, December 9 at 2:00pm. Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a division of Cirque du Soleil, has become a critically acclaimed, state-of-the-art Broadway musical, and a fun-filled, holiday family show. Tickets range from $35-$98.
NJSO presents 2019 Winter Festival, 'Music Speaks'
(NEWARK, NJ) -- A trio of renowned guest artists with distinct musical voices—pianists Emanuel Ax and Daniil Trifonov and soprano Dawn Upshaw—headline the NJSO’s Winter Festival, “Music Speaks,” in January 2019. The Orchestra’s signature artistic event takes place across three weekends, January 10–27, in six New Jersey venues.
RVCC Chorale to Perform Annual Holiday Concert on December 8th
(BRANCHBURG, NJ) --The RVCC Chorale will give its annual holiday concert on Saturday, December 8 at 8:00pm in the Welpe Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College’s Branchburg campus. The program will feature Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata, Das Neugeborne Kindelein, as well as a cappella pieces from by Sergei Rachmaninov, Zoltan Kodaly and Giuseppe Verdi. The program also will include an audience singalong of traditional carols.

"Great Music!" Tavares and Harold Melvin's Blue Notes LIVE! at the Strand Theater
The music of the 1970s is alive and well this Saturday, November 3, 2018 at Lakewood, NJ’s Strand Theater with a concert by the ’70’s R&B and soul groups Tavares and Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes!
"An Amazing Musical Genius!" Brian Wilson LIVE! at the State Theatre
In the music room in the back of our house, there’s an electric bass and amp, two acoustic guitars, a microphone and PA speakers, several pieces of music recording equipment, and a bookcase filled with books on music, not to mention a slew of assorted music memorabilia. But, perhaps, one of the most highly prized items in the room is hanging directly above the piano next to the college music diplomas.
Jazz Saxophonist Don Braden LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s a breezy day for a new installment of the Jazz On a Sunday Afternoon concert series at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts this Sunday Oct. 27, 2018 afternoon. Today’s special 3pm performance is entitled Earth, Wind and Wonder and is presented by jazz saxophonist Don Braden.
Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge LIVE! at The Strand, Lakewood
The stars are out this Saturday Oct. 26, 2018 evening in Lakewood, NJ for a “Golden Oldies” concert featuring Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge!
PODCAST: Grammy Winner Terri Lyne Carrington At TD James Moody Jazz Festival
Drummer, leader, and composer Terri Lyne Carrington made history as the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz for her album “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue.” Now, she brings her interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “Money Jungle” to the TD James Moody Jazz Festival at NJPAC on November 11, 2018, as part of a program called “Jazz Vinyl Revisited.” Producer Susan Wallner talks to Carrington about her connections to the jazz greats Clark Terry and Max Roach; her newest project, the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice; and why she thinks drummers make natural leaders.

Event calendar
Sunday, Nov 18, 2018


Allen Stone @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

IN MEMORY OF BOB COLYARD @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 11:00am

Gypsy Jazz Brunch with Pyrenesia and Max Hansen Buffet @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

Dorthaan's Place: Eric Alexander Quartet @ NICO KITCHEN + BAR @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 11:00am and 1:00pm

Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition: SASSY Awards @ Victoria Theater @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 3:00pm

Rachel Barton Pine plays Paganini @ Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall, Princeton - 4:00pm

Max Weinberg’s Jukebox @ Jay & Linda Grunin Center For The Arts At Ocean County College, Toms River - 7:00pm

Bolshoi Ballet: La Sylphide @ Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 3:00pm


Annie @ Broad Street United Methodist Church, Burlington - 2:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm

Annie @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 3:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 2:00pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 3:00pm

Billy Bishop Goes to War @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 2:00pm

ELF THE MUSICAL @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 7:00pm

Pinocchio @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 3:00pm

Kiss Me Kate @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm

Phoenix Productions Presents: The Hunchback of Notre Dame @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 3:00pm

Heathers, The Musical High School Edition @ Pebble Players, Oakes Center, Summit - 2:00pm

Junie B. Jones The Musical at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 11:00am

The Drowsy Chaperone @ Lauren K. Woods Theatre at Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 3:00pm


JCTC Dance: Up Close & Personal @ White Eagle Hall, Jersey City - 4:00pm

NJDTE "The Nutcracker" Storytime & Performance @ New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble, Summit - 4:00pm


THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 1:00pm

ROALD DAHL’S WILLY WONKA JR. @ Ridgewood Ave School Theater, Glen Ridge - 1:00pm


Mainebiz Health Care Forum @ 10th Ave. Burrito, Red Bank - 10:30am

View all events


For more on our awards, click here

New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 |

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.