Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Web site: http://www.petermulvey.com/
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To Peter Mulvey, there is no such thing as a straight and narrow path. At least, not one that he has any interest in taking.
A live-wire on any stage, Peter Mulvey is an acoustic singer/songwriter/guitarist who, in fact, defies this categorization. His ferocious guitar playing whisks him through more tunings than he has fingers in the course of an evening, as he winds his way from full-throated rockers to deceptively plain-spoken musings. Whether solo or with longtime musical collaborator David "Goody" Goodrich at his side (coaxing unearthly sounds out of electric guitars and mandolins), Mulvey is someone who just naturally commands a stage:
"Peter Mulvey is one of the most accomplished guitarists you're ever likely to hear… utterly original… it is nigh on impossible to explain him to the uninitiated… his intelligent and sometimes complex songs engage both hemispheres of the listener's brain… one of the finest, most complete entertainers… stunning." - THE IRISH EXAMINER
Peter Mulvey's story is pretty simple. College graduate from Milwaukee moves to Ireland in the early nineties, with guitar, and busks on the streets of Dublin. Hears that acoustic music is booming in Boston, comes back the U.S., and, in between the occasional paying gig, plays in the subway to make rent. Wins the prestigious Acoustic Underground Competition and awes both the audience and the press:
"He simply blew away the competition… A year of subway performance has turned him into a magician. In twelve minutes, he blended wit, passion, a clear voice, and a sensational guitar style that was both technically complex and emotionally hot… Mulvey was nearly incendiary, the clearest star-in-making." - THE BOSTON HERALD
Then what? Guy gets record deal, manager, booking agent, and starts to tour, building an audience and a discography that is both steadfast and impressive.
In between building his career as a singer/songwriter, though, Mulvey has also written and performed music for theatre and modern dance (Sam Shepard's A Lie of the Mind, Amiri Baraka's Primitive World, and for The Wild Space Dance Company), penned articles for national magazines (Acoustic Guitar, Performing Songwriter, The Writer), done voice-over work for various documentaries, and has had his songs placed in both film and television (the WB drama Felicity, independent films Origin of the Species and The Fisherman, the PBS documentary Wisconsin: An American Portrait).
As if these credits and his own songwriting weren't enough, Peter Mulvey has, over the course of his career, also been noted as a fine interpreter of other artists' songs. Known for subverting the mere idea of a "cover song", Mulvey consistently injects his live shows with innovative interpretations of songs by other artists - everyone from Radiohead to Tom Waits, Fats Waller to the Waterboys:
"Peter Mulvey is not only an extraordinary fellow but a walking repository of other people's songs, delivered at live shows as whim demands an invariably in some altered tuning so far out that nobody else will know it yet." - MOJO (UK)
Although past albums have always included at least one or two cover tunes, Mulvey has selected a dozen songs by some of his favorite songwriters and recorded them on his new album, TEN THOUSAND MORNINGS. And Mulvey brings it all full-circle; to record this album, he returned to his old stomping ground - the subway stations of Boston, Massachusetts.
A major label would have laughed in the face of any musician wanting to record an album in a subway station - it's not slick, it's not polished, it's not how things are done. It is, however, what Mulvey calls "hands-dirty art" and it's exactly how he likes it. With five albums under his belt (see DISCOGRAPHY below), Peter Mulvey's road is pretty well worn. He's clocked over 300,000 miles on his car, averaging about 200 shows per year in North America as well as Ireland and the UK. All the while, the music just keeps getting stronger, the critics continue to rave, and the audiences continue to grow. It's an organic process, to be sure, but it's one that has worked well for Mulvey. Flirtations with mainstream success continue to come his way but Peter Mulvey keeps his head down, his hands on his guitar, and continues to do what he wants to do. And being on indie label Signature Sounds gave Mulvey the freedom to do just that - to record TEN THOUSAND MORNINGS his way. Said label president Jim Olsen: "Peter's music is best heard live and in the moment. We thought it was a great idea for him to return to where it all began and record an album of music written by his songwriting heroes. The subterranean vibe adds a gritty reality to Peter's inspired performances."
Mulvey's TEN THOUSAND MORNINGS -- with some very special guests including Chris Smither, Jennifer Kimball, and Erin McKeown -- features songs by Randy Newman, Gillian Welch, Elvis Costello, Dar Williams, Paul Simon, Marvin Gaye, and others. The CD also makes use of an innovative new technology called HyperCD. The web-based, enhanced-CD element embeds a five-minute video trailer on the album that listeners can play on their computer. The video, which features footage of Mulvey playing and recording in the subway, is, in fact, a preview of a full-length DVD that will be released in 2003. Unlike prior enhanced-CD technology, HyperCD makes use of a web-based interface that allows users to interact online with other fans while viewing the video footage.
Clearly, there is no such thing as a simple path for Peter Mulvey. Year after year, he keeps his hands and mind occupied with his own songwriting and performing, as well as innovative side-projects, and continues to build a steady following that succeeds in flying just under the radar of mainstream media. But as long as that following continues to buy records, turn up at shows, and fervently support his unique brand of intelligent acoustic-rock, he'll simply keep doing these things that he loves to do. His way.