Peter Case

Peter Case

Most Miami Vice-rerun retro junkies recall Peter Case as the slightly nasal-voiced 1980s desperado who lit up the soundtrack for Nicolas Cage's first real tongue-wagger, Valley Girl, with the FM hit "A Million Miles Away." Maybe some can dig deeper and finger him as part of the tag team behind the quintessential mid-1970s skinny-tie power popsters the Nerves, who penned "Hanging on the Telephone," which was made famous by Blondie. However, those with an ear to the current sound spectrum know Case as a rollickin' singer-songwriter whose songs are appreciated and even adored by Texas icons Alejandro Escovedo ("Two Angels") and Robert Earl Keen ("Travellin' Light").

Case has spent 20-odd years going back to the basics, forging a mature and modern folk sensibility that synthesizes everything from depression-era boxcar and back-porch songs to literate, incisive ballads that make the ghost of Jeff Buckley quiver. But don't fear the folk reaper, for Case's often hearty songs shine way past the Prozac-and-yogurt haze of A Mighty Wind caricatures. When knocked out live, the songs end up being as rough-and-tumble as any rock and roll show. Look for Case to delve into his essential catalog, from the churning rootsy tunes on The Man with the Blue Post-Modern Fragmented Guitar to his more quiet, introspective tone of late, including his underappreciated last slab, Beeline.

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Timothy J. O'Brien