Darwin’s was crowded Friday night. Some people there to celebrate music lover Ellen Hamby’s birthday, others to see Peter Karp, and many for both. A few were not really familiar with Karp, but before he finished his first song, “Gee Chee Gee Chee Wa Wa” everybody was tuned in and with him. Karp is a skilled performer as well as a masterful songwriter and storyteller. He knows how to work an audience. He has a great rockabilly look, but his music does not easily fit genre types. Like other songwriters like Elvis Costello, Dylan r Jackson Browne his songs can rock or they can slither and slide but they always connect emotionally.
This is a man who can take a tragedy, like the time someone burned down his house, and make that into a rollicking rock song. Or he can take a breakup and use it to create a great song about how “that girl will break her own heart.” He can be honest and vulnerable for “The Turning Point” and “Nobody Knows Me” and absolutely snarky for “That’s How I Like It” and make you laugh and like it.
Karp played all these songs and more from his albums The Arson’s Match, Blue Flame, and Alabama Town. He told stories too, like the true tale of his mobe at age 8 from New Jersey to Alabama and the culture shock he suffered. He moved smoothly from guitar to keyboard and intermittently brought that gorgeous guitar out into the audience so everyone could get a good look at him and it.
In sum, this man put on a fantastic show, the kind you go into a club hoping to see. Peter Kapr is already a well-respected name in blues circles and if you aren’t familiar with him, stream the music, buy the albums and go see him perform. It’s like hanging out with a particularly witty friend if your friend travels with a very good set of backing musicians! Highly recommended.