For his 17th album ‘Are You Listening?’ (Righteous Babe Records / March 24), Peter Mulvey traveled to New Orleans to record with producer and friend Ani DiFranco and her band. ‘Are You Listening?’ marks the 25th anniversary of a rich career of approximately 4,000 concerts and over a million miles traveled. NPR’s Robert Siegel wasn’t kidding when he said, “Peter Mulvey is a 21st century troubadour.”
Lyrically, the songs from “Are You Listening?” range from the emotive, stream-of-consciousness flood of “The Other Morning Over Coffee” to the spare, haunting title track, which uses only seventeen words. The brutal allegory of “Just Before the War” is answered by the upbeat “It Can Get You By”. Working with the keen ear of a songwriter who has been informed by poetry all along, Mulvey sets the ordinary and the profound side by side, especially on the quirky opening track, “D.I.A.” which begins as a drive to the Denver Airport and ends as a call-out to “Wayfaring Stranger.”
Musically, the sure hand of Ani and her touring band, Todd Sickafoose and Terence Higgins, along with newcomer Anna Tivel, shape the songs as they run the gamut from the full-on Americana rocker “The Last Song” to the jazzy dissonance of “The Details.”
The friendship between DiFranco and Mulvey deepened in the summer of 2015. Mulvey was opening a run of shows for her when the shootings at the Emanuel Church in Charleston occurred. In the basement of the Calvin Theater in Northampton, after a long heart-to-heart among the band members, Mulvey went into his dressing room and wrote “Take Down Your Flag”. He sang it twenty minutes later, and as he came offstage, DiFranco asked him to teach her the song. She sang it two days later, and substituted her own verse for one Tywanza Sanders (one of the victims) in place of Mulvey’s verse for Susie Jackson. Within a few days, their versions were posted to YouTube and over the next few weeks, hundreds of songwriters added their own versions, including Anais Mitchell, Keb’ Mo, Paula Cole, and Jeff Daniels.
DiFranco’s help with giving “Take Down Your Flag” a wider audience naturally led to the collaboration on “Are You Listening?” Like DiFranco, Mulvey is an artist with deep roots in community: his early days as a busker in Dublin and Boston are echoed by his marathon online benefit concerts via Concert Window, the latest of which he will play from his Wisconsin home venue the Cafe Carpe on January 15. His long association with the National Youth Science Foundation prompted him to add a yearly warm-weather bicycle tour to his schedule: 2017’s tour will be the 10th anniversary, and the tours have covered thousands of miles.
Twenty-five years in, Mulvey stays true to his roots as a busker in Dublin and Boston: this January15th he will play a marathon Concert Window performance, broadcast online from his hometown Café Carpe in Atkinson, WI, to benefit the ACLU, SPLC, Planned Parenthood, the NRDC, Relief International, and Public Allies.
Mulvey has shared stages with Emmylou Harris, Richard Thompson, DiFranco, Greg Brown, the Indigo Girls, and many others.
Acoustic Guitar Magazine recently asked him to do a video session recently displaying his mastery of alternate tunings and unexpected chordal voicings: http://acousticguitar.com/
NPR Music’s Bob Boilen has called his 2006 song “Abilene (The Eisenhower Waltz)” “beautiful…. touching… It’s also got a clever rhyme scheme.”
Rolling Stone.com :”Haunting... A voice lush and hushed that occasionally sinks into a whisper."
The Washington Post: "The subtle power of his voice, a husky, hushed baritone... understated, at once sophisticated and intimate [singing songs] as cover-worthy as Randy Newman, Elvis Costello."
All Music testified, "For sheer musicianship, it is difficult to think of many contemporary guitar playing singer-songwriters who can claim superiority to Peter Mulvey... It's hard to understand why Peter Mulvey isn't better known. His acoustic guitar work is flawless, avoiding folky clichés for a light, jazzy feel that makes his melodies bounce, and his singing is superb, an understated tenor that puts across deep emotion."
Peter Mulvey 2017 Winter Tour Dates
January 15 – Café Carpe (12-hour concert window) - Fort Atkinson, WI
January 19 – Motorco Music Hall – Durham, NC
January 20 – The Evening Muse – Charlotte, NC
January 21 – Isis – Asheville, NC
January 27 – The Parlor Room – Northampton, MA
January 28 - Circle of Friends Coffeehouse - Franklin, MA
January 29 - One Longfellow Square - Portland, ME
February 4 - Cafe Veritas, First Unitarian Church - Rochester, NY
February 10 - Alberta Rose Theater - Portland, OR
February 11 - Ballard Homestead - Seattle, WA
February 16 - Brick 15 - Del Mar, CA
February 18 - Hotel Café - Hollywood, CA
February 19 - Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse - Berkeley, CA
February 25 – Taproot - Anchorage, AK
February 26 - Vagabond Blues - Palmer, AK
March 9 - The Walnut Room - Denver, CO
March 10 - Friends House Concerts - Colorado Springs, CO
March 11 - Old San Ysidro Church - Corrales, NM
March 12 - Kitchen Sink Studio - Santa Fe, NM
March 17 - The Etude Sessions @ Paradigm - Sheboygan, WI
April 1 - Beal House - Kingston, MA
April 6 - Club Passim - Cambridge, MA
April 7 - Club Passim - Cambridge, MA
April 8 - Club Passim - Cambridge, MAJune 1 - Hezekiah Stone's Coffeehouse - Leicester, MA