McCabe’s Guitar Shop
June 16, 2023
By DAN MACINTOSH
SANTA MONICA, CA – Seeing Peter Case at McCabe’s is akin to the ultimate intimate SoCal concert experience. Case, who played all the local clubs with The Plimsouls back during the New Wave era, before exploring more acoustic sounds as a solo artist, is the perfect fit for the living room atmosphere of McCabe’s. And he gave this enthusiastic audience nearly two hours of powerful music and memorable stories.
Case’s guitar skills and lyrical insight are well established qualities, but one was especially struck by his sense of humor this night. Whether he was talking about – and imitating – his father’s conversations concerning music or telling a story of how the fire department was called out to his San Francisco abode because of a strange noise that could not be easily identified, Case was quite the raconteur, as well. He told these tales with silly voices and sometimes funny faces, which kept his audiences in stitches.
Then there was the music, which is never less than unforgettable. Case may have, at times, lived the rock and roll lifestyle, but he’s always had a big heart for the downtrodden and less fortunate. His songs are peopled with the folks you may pass along your way that are sleeping on the street, or those leading lives that some may consider less than respectable. One great example of this empathetic perspective is “Entella Hotel.” When he sings, “And the girls give themselves names like Lola, Estelle, and Nicole/They work at a place called The Garden of Earthly Delights,” you may not know girls like these, but you certainly know who he’s talking about. Case never passes judgement on these women, who are just trying to make ends meet; he’s just setting the scene with a sensitive eye.
Case’s guitar playing ranged from acoustic blues, including a blistering version of Memphis Minnie’s “Bumble Bee,” to the jangly rock (played on a 12-string acoustic guitar) of his big hit with The Plimsouls, “A Million Miles Away.” On the latter, Case was accompanied by a standup bassist, who also played with Peter on a few songs from his recent Dr. Moan album, which found the singer/songwriter moving over to play piano. These newer songs, which included “Girl In Love With A Shadow” and “Have You Ever Been In Trouble,” revealed how Case is just as comfortable with keys, as he is on guitar. He also pulled out a harmonica, and even played a harmonica version of Glenn Miller’s “Pennsylvania 6500,” with the audience singing out the song’s title line.
Southern California has a bad reputation for being shallow to the extreme, but Peter Case offers evidence to the contrary with his deep music. That wonderful depth was explored at McCabe’s, which is just the right spot for such entertaining exploration.