Long-time readers of Wickersham’s Conscience know that WC is a big fan of the excellent Peter Mulvey. Mulvey was at The Loon here in Fairbanks – well, Ester, anyway – last Thursday night for a show.
If you got a pretty good idea what you’re looking for
Then you got a pretty good idea of what you’ll find
You don’t have to go so far these days
To find yourself a made up mind…
– Peter Mulvey, “Kids in the Square,” Letters from a Flying Machine
Matt Lorenz, a/k/a Suitcase Junket opened for Mulvey. By report, at least, Lorenz found his guitar in a dumpster, built his unusual drum kit himself and discovered his signature throat singing by accident while trying to pronounce an Indian word. He has a pleasant, tenor voice, and brings a umique, one man band style to his performance. (WC thinks Loon proprietor Adam Wool sets the stage lights so funky to discourage photography. WC apologizes for the odd coloration, which was beyond the white balance abilities of his camera.)
Mulvey did a nice solo set, mostly songs from his new album, Silver Ladder, released earlier this year. He also did some his “Tuesday Specials” – with a couple of his fellow folksinger/songwriters, he writes a new song every Tuesday. The quality wasn’t uniform, but the entertainment level was consistently high.
Mulvey’s guitar playing is very good, his songwriting consistently interesting and his smooth, baritone voice absolutely enthralling. He brings an amazing level of energy to his live performances, a sense of barely contained excitement that strongly reminds WC of the late, great Steve Goodman. It makes him a delightful live act.
Lorenz and Mulvey did the last few songs together. Lorenz turns out to be an excellent harmony singer and accompianest. He improvised nicely around Mulvey’s songs, and did a nice lead on a couple of tunes. Mulvey has a gift for finding folks to perform with him, and scored again with Lorenz.
For WC, Mulvey made the show by closing with WC’s two favorite Mulvey tunes. First, “Windshield,” a song written about Fairbanks, with a chorus that encapsulates both Mulvey’s skilled songwriting and powers of observation. Describing a raven calling outside, he says:
And I’m trying to hear
What does he say
I’m trying to hear
What does he say
And every windshield in this town has seen better days
– Peter Mulvey, “Windshield,” Letters from a Flying Machine
And Mulvey closed with his lovely, elegiac “Knuckleball Suite,” the title track from the album of the same name. And the first Mulvey song WC heard.
An excellent show, absolutely an ideal way to spend a Thursday evening. The next time he’s in your town, you need to see his show. Thanks to Adam Wool for bring Peter Mulvey and Matt Lorenz to Fairbanks. And thanks to Peter Mulvey and Suitcase Junket for coming to town.