Many musicians have written about getting “in the van” to head out on tour, and by and large they don’t make it sound like a pleasant experience. Perhaps they should roll out on a $3,500 German-made black HP Velotechnik Grasshopper foldable touring bike, as that’s Peter Mulvey’s choice of ride, and it sounds like he’s having a fun time. Traveling around the country on his bike, Mulvey is, in his own words, “turning American into a European Socialist dystopia one folksinger at a time.” He’ll ride his bike into town this evening and do his best to communize Jammin’ Java. (Alright, in point of fact he’s riding from Union Station, but still…)
Originally from Wisconsin, Mulvey spent time honing his skills in Boston subways (as did Tracy Chapman before him). He now has more than a dozen albums under this belt, ranging from contemporary folk to acoustic rock to an all-instrumental album with longtime collaborator David Goodrich.
On his latest album, The Good Stuff, Mulvey focuses on a wide array of covers, from Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk to Tom Waits and Joe Henry. The songs are all linked by Mulvey’s fantastic ability with an acoustic guitar, which seems to be tuned a different way on every song. (His website’s discography lists the tunings for each song, which has no doubt caused many a guitar player to say “wait….what?”)
His original material is fantastic as well, particularly 2007’s solo acoustic Notes From Elsewhere, which best reflects his live performances – witty, insightful songs sung with one of the best voices this side of Leonard Cohen.