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Interview: Peter Karp

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The world is full of paradoxes. You'd think life could never be dull if you have a short attention span. I've found that not to be the case. Short attention spans are only one of my many charming qualities, but it's the one I've been thinking about this morning. It's easy to get excited about something only to cast it aside moments later. Today's "it" becomes yesterday's "what?" or "huh?" so fast, a process being eased every day with technological advances. That was a little too Ted Kaczynski for me. See, I'm already getting off the track here. I don't blame technology- in fact, I don't even really want to talk about technology.

I wanted to talk about a life spent racing from one thing to the next, too often forgetting what came immediately before. Some people savor life. They stop, look around, and take notice. They pause to take it all in. That's not me. Sometimes I gorge, sometimes I nibble, but I rarely stop long enough to take it all in. Nowhere is this more evident than in the way I listen to music. I listened obsessively to Counting Crows for the days leading up to and immediately following my interview with Adam Duritz. I briefly gulped down Dan Wilson's Free Life before doing the interview with him. I haven't listened to much besides Bruce Springsteen since seeing him in Atlanta. I have an interview with Glen Phillips scheduled this week. Gee, I wonder if I'll get into a Glen/Toad the Wet Sprocket phase.

I don't know if this is a case of the grass being greener on the other side of the septic tank or if I'm really going about this all wrong, but that's me. I get tossed and thrown about and I land how and where I land and I never feel like I have all that much control over any of it (although that doesn't stop me from trying). Sometimes when the moment ends and I move on I never come back. Other times — intentionally, subconsciously, or coincidentally — there are enough bread crumbs strewn about for me to find my way back to places worth a revisit.

I got an e-mail from the press contact who first turned me on to Peter Karp yesterday letting me know Peter was playing a show down the road in Birmingham on Monday. That e-mail set off a chain reaction. The first thing that happened is that I stopped listening to the Mudcrutch CD I'm trying to review. The second thing I did was to start talking to TheWifeToWhomI'mMarried about arrangements to go to Birmingham Monday night. Thirdly, I remembered that I never did go back and transcribe my interview with Peter at the end of last year. I'd tell you I don't know how that happened, but I think I just did. Life moves fast and I get moved with it, sometimes against my will. Fortunately, I have a trail of bread crumbs that actually lead somewhere.

"I walked away because I was very young. I walked away because I was… smart," said Peter Karp, on why he walked away from his first band. That, combined with having a young family, kept him off the road for the better part of a decade. "I got married young and had a couple of kids quickly and I just decided that the two do not mix," said Karp.

He didn't stop working altogether but music became a part-time gig. When he was ready, his path back to working as a full-time musician took him to some strange places and brought him in contact with some of the legends of the music world. He spent time learning from Willie Dixon, Robert Lockwood Jr., and Pinetop Perkins, who he'd met a few months prior to our interview.

"I said, 'Man, I'm a big fan and you're terrific,'" said Karp. "He (Perkins) said to me, 'I'm 92-years old.' I said, 'Yeah, I know.' He said, 'No, you don't understand. I'm 92-years old!' That's all he kept saying to me. He said, 'I'm alive. I can't believe it!' He's really a lot of fun. He's a great guy."

About Josh Hathaway

  • Simpson

    Exactly. Peter Karp is awesome…an amazing combination of good blues music, great guitar, wonderful lyrics and a great sense of humor. Shadows and Cracks was great!

    I think all Peter’s fans should hear it, once they hear it, I think they will recognize a kindred spirit.