By Hannah Heimbuch
For those who don’t want to wait for the weekend to scratch that live music itch, Peter Mulvey’s Down East Saloon performance may be just the ticket.
The Milwaukee, Wisc.-based singer/songwriter brings his unique blend of folk/rock to Homer tonight; one stop in a northern tour that’s taking him all over the state.
After 20 years of touring around the world, it’s not Mulvey’s first time making music in the Last Frontier —or Homer.
“I must’ve done 10 or 12 runs up in Alaska,” he said. “I love it, for all the obvious reasons. It’s such a vibrant place; culture set in stark relief against a world that’s a bit more vivid and actual than, say, the Plains or the Northeast.”
While his career started in the early 90s at Milwaukee’s Marquette University, Mulvey unleashed his lyrics in locales as diverse as the Boston subway system and the pubs of Dublin, Ireland. The Boston Globe dubbed his music “all substance, which is his style.”
He is known for the wit and warmth of his songwriting and a unique, percussive guitar style. This intensive story-telling style, often fondly called restless and gifted by music critics, is intrinsically linked to the extensive time he has dedicated to traveling and sharing his music, Mulvey said.
“I’ve got a song called ‘Road to Mallow’ that I could never have written if I hadn’t been driving late at night in Ireland,” Mulvey said. “A song called ‘Windshield’ that could only have come from being woken by a raven on the roof outside my room in Bethel.”
The pursuits of both traveler and musician run together, he said, and have often intertwined to lead him down his wandering path.
“Since I was a kid. I wanted to go and see the world and write songs about it,” Mulvey said. “And I did. And I do. Touring and playing in new locales is the life blood of my whole deal as an artist.”
Mulvey has recorded 19 albums and EPs since he began in 1992, and recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign aimed at launching his latest record, “Silver Ladder.” Nearly 1,000 supporters stepped up to more than double his funding goal.
Mulvey calls his latest work fun and full of energy, charged with some very real-life inspirations that challenged him to pull the music straight from the struggle.
“The latest flood of songs has been a delight,” he said. “I went through some stuff a few years back, very ordinary human stuff involving death and changing relationships; no big deal, but it always seems big going through it. And all through it, I had my hooks in the water, and the songs I’ve been pulling up feel great.”
While some reviewers have called him an eclectic performer, it’s a trait that’s more common than not these days according to Mulvey. There’s such a broad and instantaneous accessibility to music, from a great diversity of worldwide sources, Mulvey said, that anyone who is a music lover would be hard-pressed to not be eclectic in some regard.
“My music gets informed by my heroes: Tom Waits, Greg Brown, Chuck Prophet, Kris Delmhorst,” he said. “And their music got informed by their heroes. Nowadays, it’s such a mix of the personal and the universal. I just hope I’m sounding good at any given time, I hope I’m putting it out there for audiences.”
The priority for Mulvey is the connection he’s able to create between the way he sees and sings about the world, and the people who stop to listen.
“It’s such a big, broad accessible world,” Mulvey said. “There’s not much you can know for sure, and I just try to touch people’s hearts. If that’s corny, fine.”
Muley will play tonight — Wednesday, Feb. 19 — at 7 p.m. at the Down East Saloon in Homer. Tickets are $20.
The words Mulvey used to describe why he writes music through life’s ups and downs may also apply to the reason a person might brave a winter Wednesday evening to head out for some live tunes.
“I mean, life is short. Let’s play, you know?”
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