Peter Mulvey chose Club Passim to host his “Lamplighter Sessions” five years ago, and it has become an annual tradition, held surrounding Halloween, since then. This was the first time I attended one of the shows, and what a treat!
Each Session has a theme, and this night’s Session seemed to be guitar-centered blues/folk music. One of the other shows in the Sessions centered around Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs, playing it in its entirety.
Peter lived in the Boston area for a number of years, and I was first introduced to him when he busked at the Harvard Square T Station. Seeing him most mornings was the best part of my commute! He now lives in Wisconsin but returns to the area on a regular basis, and his numerous fans are glad of that!
He gained prominence last June when he wrote the base of ‘Take Down Your Flag’ in the wake of the Charleston shootings, and I was lucky enough to see him perform it the second time he did so. After that, over 200 well-known musicians wrote their own verses and there were a number of benefits held for the families of the victims.
This Session had the feel of an open mic night, in the sense that various musicians took the stage throughout the first half of the evening. The quality of the musicians, however, was much higher than typically found at an open mic (I do not mean to imply that open mics attract bad musicians, but they are not as seasoned performers as the musicians I saw this evening).
The show started with Peter playing several of his own songs before bringing guitarist extraordinaire Duke Levine to the stage for another hour or so. Kris Delmhorst was on the original line-up but was sick; Rose Polenzani and Jennifer Kimball sang in her stead.
The second part of the show featured Dennis Brennan, a Boston-based blues guitarist and singer, and part of his talented band (Duke is part of Dennis’s band). If I can describe Dennis in one word, that word would be character. He is witty, talented, and always delivers a solid performance.
This show was so good that I intend to see as many of next year’s Sessions as I can, since each one is quite different. I had no idea what I was missing because I did not attend any of the shows in previous years.
I discovered that Peter does a series of Lamplighter Sessions in Wisconsin as well. The nine-show run is in mid-December; if you live anywhere near Fort Atkinson (between Madison and Milwaukee, and not too far from Chicago), click here to get a ticket to one or more shows!