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A mingling of guitar and voice

CARBONDALE ” Singer and guitarist Peter Mulvey, 38, has spent the last 15 years crafting his simple, pared-down approach to music. After several CDs and years of busking on the streets of Boston and Ireland, he said he’s still honing his sound, always trying to make his work as lean as it can be. Before heading to the Front Range next week, he’ll bring his acoustic tunes to Steve’s Guitars in Carbondale on Wednesday. He gave this interview from his car, as he drove through the streets of Milwaukee.

What first brought you to music? “I’ve played the guitar since before I could remember doing anything.”

He mentioned a few influences, including his mother, and concluded that, somehow, it was just meant to be.



“It’s always been a part of my life.”

Describe your sound. How has it changed? “I guess my sound has developed out of 20 years of just trying to use a voice, a human voice, and a guitar to make as broad a variation as I could. That’s it: just a voice and a guitar, and I try to make them as expressive as possible.”



“For whatever reason, for 15 years, it’s been heading in the direction of being economical and sparse.”

“I’m trying to use less to say more.”

What are you trying to say? “Hmm…I heard somebody say that poetry is to the human condition what a telescope is to a scientist. I’m just trying to build myself a telescope.”

How did your years of busking shape you? “Well, in Ireland, I just learned that music is a wild and beautiful thing. I just fell in love with it.”

Even now, he explained, his memories of Ireland are romantic and filled with drama.

“It got me right into the middle of myself, and I’ve never let it go.”

“I miss how simple it was then. You just go, and you sing all day, every day. It’s pretty elemental.”

Do you have a favorite moment of your career? “Getting to work with Chris Smithers, Emmylou Harris, Los Lobos. Probably that, and ” this is pretty true in life as well ” just connecting with people.”

What advice would you give someone starting in the music business? “I’m actually in that position a great deal. I always tell them: do it as much as possible.”

“Just remember that it’s probably no different than anything. If you’re going to own a bakery, you’re going to work long hours and go into debt in the beginning. Unless you want to be a star. I have no advice for that.”

What’s the most important thing in your life? “I would say it’s the people in my life. My wife, my family and her family ” and friends. That’s always the case.”

Is there anything else you would like to say? “Yeah, I’d like people to come down to the show.”

“I still have a lot of faith in live music. It’s amazing to me, that it’s still alive after this spectacular commercial assault. We still need it as a species.”


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