By Max Sullivan
Grammy nominated singer/songwriter Peter Case is coming to Johnny D’s in Somerville, and he’ll also be returning from his first trip ever to the Land Down Under.
“Never been,” Case said. “First trip.”
Case didn’t have anything particularly Australian that he was excited about experiencing over there. When asked, he just said he was happy to get his music in front of a new live audience of supportive fans.
“I’m excited to see the people over there, fans writing to me from there over the years,” Case said. “It’s great to get out there to play for other people. Taking it to a new frontier. It’s a long trip, though.”
Case has spent a lot of time in New England, where he’ll be this Friday night. Having grown up on the East Coast in upstate New York before moving to California, Case has spent time in New England, both for personal reasons and through his touring. He appreciates the Boston area, and sees it as a good fit for his stage show.
“I tour America, that’s my main thing. I come up to New England every year,” Case said. “At least once, if not twice, every year or so. I like playing up there. Its a good audience for a solo musician.”
Case referred to the artistic culture in Boston. He said he appreciates the attitude that many artists have in this competitive music scene.
“They’ve had a lot of (solo performers) up there,” Case said. “Eric Von Schmidt to Joan Baez, all the folkies, Chris Smither. There’s an audience that’s been very worked in there. They basically understand it from the get-go what a solo musician is.”
Case didn’t always play solo. He started his career as a solo artist thirty years ago, but he eventually began to play with a band in the 80’s and 90’s. This, as exciting and fun as it was at the time, drastically effected Case’s stage show. When he finally started to play solo acoustic again, he found it refreshing. In particular, he felt much more vulnerable in front of his audience, and therefore better able to communicate with them.
“A lot of things have changed since I started out,” Case said. “With a band, those guys played exciting shows, but the communication changed a lot. It was a lot more open when I went solo, when I stripped it down and sat acoustic. Kind of a naked experience, vulnerable.”
Case’s show is a unique experience each time. He doesn’t use set lists. Instead, he likes to get a feel for the crowd in the room. He has a general idea of what he’ll play each night, but he sees each set as “its own kind of composition.”
Case is currently writing material for his next album, which he hopes to record later this year. When writing an album, he envisions the collection of songs as a sort of snapshot of where he is in that time. While some artists don’t mind revisiting themes, both in lyrical content and in sound, Case tries to always move forward with his records.
Still, there are those themes in life that frequently appear, like love and hardship. The subject matter is not what needs to change necessarily from record to record, but rather how Case is expressing his feelings on those topics.
“No, there’s nothing I’m sick of writing about,” Case said. “It’s just finding in a particular song something you care enough to sing about. You’re looking for something that is speaking to your needs and to the singers and to my needs. It’s the story. It’s not really subject. It’s more what you say, the way you say it, than what you’re talking about. It’s getting into that space where it opens up. That doesn’t happen every day all the time. It’s just, you’ve got to find it.”
See Peter Case at Johnny D’s in Davis Square. Tickets are $15. Show starts at 7:30 p.m.