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Peter Case returned to the Folk for acoustic show

Well-traveled troubadour Peter Case returned to Claremont in what has for some time been a favorite stop for the acclaimed singer-songwriter.

“I love the Folk Music Center,” Mr. Case said when the COURIER reached him this week at his San Francisco home. “It’s a great place to play.”

Mr. Case played a solo acoustic show on Saturday, September 24, at the Folk, 220 Yale Ave.

The Grammy-nominated artist has been making Claremont part of his tour itinerary for about 20 years. Over the many appearances he’s made at the Folk, he’s grown fond of its unique qualities.

“It’s a very intimate venue and it’s great playing in that room with all those guitars. They all kind of vibrate when you play and it makes a great sound.”

Folk Music Center owner Ben Harper has been known to sit in with him, and even appeared on Mr. Case’s 2015 studio release Highway 62 on Omnivore Records.

“It was nice having Ben come down and play on [the new record],” Mr. Case recalled. “It was super fun. He’s a great guy to work with. He just had a great vibe.”

Mr. Case, 62, was born in Hamburg, New York. He wrote his first song, “Stay Away,” at age 11 and never looked back, bashing it out in bar bands before making his way to San Francisco in 1973. He formed the seminal punk band The Nerves in 1976. The group’s “Hanging on the Telephone” became a smash for Blondie in 1978 as the opening track off the New York group’s 20-million seller, Parallel Lines. By this time, the Nerves had disbanded. Mr. Case formed The Plimsouls in 1979 and, in 1982, he penned “A Million Miles Away,” which became a massive radio hit in California. The song received an added boost when it was featured on the soundtrack of the 1983 film Valley Girl.

The Plimsouls called it quits in the mid-1980s and Geffen Records released his solo debut, “Peter Case,” in 1986. In 1992, he scored a top 20 hit with “I Dream About You,” off the Six-Pack of Love album.

Since striking out on his own, Mr. Case has released 13 albums and was the subject of a tribute record—2006’s “A Case for Case,” which featured an astonishing 47 artists’ take on his songs, including John Prine, Dave Alvin, Joe Ely, Hayes Carll and many others. Over his career Mr. Case has worked with T-Bone Burnett, Beach Boys lyricist Van Dyke Parks and Tom Petty’s right hand man, guitarist Mike Campbell. He’s collaborated with legends Ry Cooder and John Hiatt, and even Bruce Springsteen has chimed in to sing Mr. Case’s praises. All the while he has toured consistently, primarily as a solo artist as of late.

He published a short but powerful memoir, As Far As You Can Get Without a Passport, in 2006. Now that his late ‘70s LA punk rock contemporaries John Doe (X, Knitters) and Keith Morris (Black Flag, Circle Jerks) have released Los Angeles punk memoirs, it may be time for Mr. Case to weigh in as well, he said. But much like his music career, Mr. Case, the author, plans on reaching for something unexpected.

“I’ve got about 250 pages of a book on my computer that I haven’t published.” The story is based on his time playing on the street in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles in the 1970s “I need to go over it one more time. I just haven’t had time. I’m trying to make a book that is just a good story, and not just a rock book.”

In addition to the non-fiction/fiction hybrid, Mr. Case has a second, more linear, full-length memoir in the works. “I’ve got another book about the Nerves and about the start of punk rock and that whole period,” he explained. “I’ve been talking to a guy down in Houston that might do that book with me.”

Mr. Case is always writing, he said, and expects to release a record of new material some time in 2017. For now, he’s thrilled that Omnivore has re-released a re-mastered and expanded version of his self-titled debut.

“I’m pretty happy it’s out again,” he said. “I was really proud of that record.” The re-release adds seven new tracks to the original 12, and has a slightly different package.

On Saturday, Mr. Case will have copies of a Highway 62 outtakes disc titled “Lost Songs, Outside Favorites” for sale. And, if fans are looking to say hello or get a record signed, they may be in luck before the show.

“I enjoy it out there. I usually come out and just hang around to talk to people and walk around town and stuff,” Mr. Case said. “It’s pretty fun really. I dig it out there. I always have.” 

More information on the artist is at petercase.com.

—Mick Rhodes