Singer-songwriter and guitarist Peter Mulvey will be featured on Wednesday, November 17, in the opening concert of the 26th season of winter folk concerts at the White Gull Inn in Fish Creek.
The series presents touring acoustic folk musicians from all over the country in monthly concerts in the White Gull’s century old dining room. Tickets for the 8 PM concert, the first in a series of seven scheduled at the inn this winter, are $15.
Peter Mulvey began as a self-described “city kid” from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He played, wrote, and sang in bands while studying theatre at Marquette University. After graduating, he traveled to Ireland, where he learned the trade of busker on the streets of Dublin. Returning to the U.S. a few years later, he settled in Boston, building an audience through street and subway performing, while also immersing himself in the thriving musical community. Since his 2000 release The Trouble with Poets, Mulvey has found a home with the venerable independent label Signature Sounds Recordings.
His most recent albums for the Massachusetts label include the 2006 release The Knuckleball Suite, the 2004 release Kitchen Radio, the 2003 collaborative Redbird album (with label-mates Kris Delmhorst and Jeffrey Foucault), and his 2001 CD, Ten Thousand Mornings, an album of cover songs recorded entirely in the subways of Boston. MOJO described the album as “simultaneously Mulvey’s homage to his one-time training ground and a beautifully atmospheric record of gifted interpretations.”
Peter Mulvey’s 2007 release, Notes from Elsewhere (Signature Sounds) is a retrospective collection of the most popular songs Mulvey has written and performed over his 15 year recording career. Recorded solo in a studio, they are fresh takes on songs that have become fan and critic favorites over the years. While Mulvey’s previous band-backed albums showcased the songs, these solo versions allow each song to stand on its own, demonstrating Peter’s strengths as a songwriter.
His twelfth and latest album, Letters from a Flying Machine, is a collection of songs based on letters Mulvey has written to his nieces and nephews from planes as he has toured all over the world.
Always looking for ways to further immerse himself in language, art, and music, Mulvey has also scored music for theatre and modern dance, and has had numerous songs featured in film and television including various WB programs and PBS documentaries.
Critical acclaim for Mulvey has been consistent and enthusiastic over the years: A Washington Post critic wrote “the subtle power of his voice, a husky, hushed baritone… understated, at once sophisticated and intimate… [he is] as cover-worthy as Randy Newman, Elvis Costello and Dar Williams.” The Irish Times wrote “Peter Mulvey is consistently the most original and dynamic of the US singer-songwriters to tour these shores… A phenomenal performer with huge energy, a quick fire, quirky take on life, and an extraordinary guitar style… a joy to see.”
In addition to the critical acclaim that his recorded works have brought him, Mulvey is also highly regarded (and respected by his fellow musicians) as a serious disciple of the road, traveling from Ireland to Anchorage and all points in between, whether playing solo, duo, or with a full-on rock back. Most recently, his touring career took an interesting turn, when Mulvey decided to embark on the “Look Ma, No Gasoline Tour” – a ten day, 300 mile concert tour of southern Wisconsin, to which he rode entirely on his bicycle.
An optional pre-concert fixed price dinner will be served at 6 pm. The menu consists of beer braised beef short ribs with tomatoes and herbs, mashed potatoes, pear walnut salad with buttermilk blue cheese and cider vinaigrette and brown butter pumpkin cake for dessert.
Winter folk concerts at the White Gull Inn were started in 1984 by Innkeeper Andy Coulson, a banjo player and long time fan of live acoustic, folk and bluegrass music. Coulson was frustrated by the lack of live entertainment during the long quiet Door County winters and thought the White Gull dining room might be the perfect venue for a type of performance called house concerts. The first White Gull concerts were loosely based on the “house concert” concept, in which traveling folk musicians, often on tight budgets and in need of work, are invited into the homes of fans along the route of their travels. The fans provide the musician with food and lodging in return for a concert to a small group of friends, often right in their living rooms. A collection at the door goes to the artist to help defray expenses.
The house concert circuit has provided work and travel expenses for generations of singers and brought folk music to many rural areas that are too small to otherwise provide such entertainment. “I wasn’t sure who would come to a concert on a weekday in winter in Fish Creek,” Coulson recalled. “But we had plenty of room and board, and figured that we had nothing to lose. At the very least, we’d have some quality folk music in Fish Creek.”
In the beginning, it was not easy finding artists willing to come so far for such a small turnout. However, as word got around, more and more musicians decided that a “working holiday” in the quiet beauty of the Door Peninsula was worth the trek to northern Wisconsin. The series has gradually been able to attract in well known performers, such as Tom Paxton, Cheryl Wheeler, John McCutcheon and the Roche sisters, all of whom normally play in much larger halls.
Future concerts in the White Gull series will feature Johnsmith on Wed., December 8; Lou and Peter Berryman on January 12; Antje Duvekot on February 2; John McCutcheon on February 16; the Waymores on March 2; and the Honey Dewdrops on April 6. Tickets and more information on the concerts and the optional dinners can be obtained by calling the White Gull Inn at 920.868.3517 or toll free 800.624.1987, or accessing the inn’s website, www.whitegullinn.com. If still available, concert tickets can be purchased at the door, although most concerts are sold out, so advance ticket purchase and reservations for the pre-concert dinners are recommended.