Million Miles Away
In a story very similar to Steve Earle's, Peter Case quit school and left his home in Buffalo, New York, at age 17 to follow his musical muse. A brief time as a San Francisco street musician preceded a move to Los Angeles, where the young troubadour formed the legendary punk/power-pop group the Nerves, whose "Hanging on the Telephone" was later covered by Blondie.
After the Nerves fell apart, Case formed the Plimsouls, who appeared in the Nicolas Cage movie Valley Girl; "A Million Miles Away," the Plimsouls' contribution to the soundtrack, became the group's biggest hit. Case went on to record more than a dozen albums in styles ranging from rock to blues to punk to singer-songwriter.
He recently recovered from open-heart surgery, and responded with Wig! (Yep Roc), his raw and rocking latest release.
Chatter: How did you know there was a health problem?
Peter Case: I was on tour, and my blood pressure suddenly went through the roof. I felt like something had changed in my chest and I just wasn't feeling right.
C: What's changed in your life because of the surgery?
PC (laughs): I don't go straight for the heaviest barbecue I can find anymore, and I miss that. But really not much has changed, except I eat a lot of chicken and vegetables and I get more exercise, mostly walking.
C: How did you and Plimsouls guitarist Eddie Munoz get together?
PC: I ended up standing next to Eddie at a Flamin' Groovies show one night. We looked at each other and saw two guys in pointy-toed cowboy boots, and we just sort of knew right then we had stuff in common. We got together and played, and it was magic.
C: How have you managed to stay so prolific for so long?
PC: I really like what I do. And people think of me first as a rocker, I think, but really since day one I would play a rock band gig on Friday night and find myself doing a solo acoustic gig the next night in some church basement coffeehouse, so I've always had multiple musical interests and outlets.
C: Do you ever get tired of requests for "A Million Miles Away"?
PC: I really don't. I may not play it every night, but I can play it any number of ways, so I'm able to keep it fresh that way. It's like a calling card, but a very good calling card.
C: What is your audience like now?
PC: The re-release of the Nerves album in 2008 seems to have brought out lots of younger kids to my shows the past couple of years. They find out about me through that record, and that's an encouraging thing.
C: Speaking of the Nerves, who was it that left you hanging on the telephone all those years ago?
PC (laughs): That song was actually written by Jack Lee, our bass player. He lived in one of those old flophouse places that had a pay telephone out in the hall, and his girlfriend would call him and they'd argue and all that stuff, and Jack would leave the phone hanging off the hook.
Nashville singer-songwriter David Joseph has partnered with Texas and Louisiana Kroger stores to donate all the proceeds from sales of his CD I'm Comin' Home to Fisher House, a Maryland-based public/private partnership that provides housing to families of wounded veterans while they undergo rehabilitation. The CDs are available for about eight dollars at specially marked six-foot displays in each store, including the 35 Houston-area Krogers, through the end of August. Joseph resumes his tour of military bases in October, with scheduled stops at Fort Bliss near El Paso, Fort Sam Houston and Brooke Army Medical Center near San Antonio and Fort Polk outside Leesville, Louisiana. For more information, see www.davidjoseph.org or www.fisherhouse.org.
2110 Portsmouth, 713-526-9272
1. The Delta Spirit, History from Below
2. Alejandro Escovedo, Street Songs of Love
3. The Black Keys, Brothers
4. M.I.A., MAYA
5. Poor Dumb Bastards, The Price of Rebellion
6. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Mojo
7. Jimmie Vaughan, Jimmie Vaughan Plays Blues Ballads
8. Ashton Nyte, The Valley
9. Rolling Stones, Exile on Main Street
10. Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse, Dark Night of the Soul
1. Breaking Benjamin, "Give Me a Sign"
2. Cage the Elephant, "Back Against the Wall"
3. Shinedown, "The Crow & the Butterfly"
4. Pearl Jam, "Just Breathe"
5. Muse, "Uprising"
6. Incubus, "Dig"
7. Incubus, "Love Hurts"
8. Bush, "Afterlife"
9. Sick Puppies, "You're Going Down"
10. Switchfoot, "The Sound (John M. Perkins' Blues)"
(lists compiled by Chris Gray)
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.