Peter Mulvey, performing at the Yellow Cab Bldg. in Dayton on Saturday, April 22, has been making music for decades. However, he recently had one of the biggest breaks of his career when he linked up with Ani DiFranco for his 17th album.
“Are You Listening?” was produced by DiFranco, who also recorded the sessions in her New Orleans studio and released the results on her Righteous Babe Records in March. This album, Mulvey’s first for the label, was recorded with DiFranco’s band.
“I’d never played a note of music with her band but I knew them because I’ve opened for Ani a bunch of times,” Mulvey said. “Recording with them was fantastic. We’ve all been playing music all our lives so we come at it from the same perspective. It’s very conversational, very improvisational. We’re pretty good at adjusting and letting things happen.
“The most interesting thing to me was Ani’s role,” he continued. “She was sort of like the fifth member of the band and what she played was earphones. She’d sit and listen to everything and really be as in the moment as all four of the people playing instruments. She was the fifth instrument, which was sort of the silence of her listening. It was a really cool way to work.”
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In March, Mulvey also released a free collection of protest songs called “Lift Every Voice.”
“It’s songs I didn’t feel comfortable selling,” he said. “You can download it from my Web page or get a physical copy at my merch table. It’s free but by taking it you’re promising me and all the people that made it that you’ll donate time or money to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood or the National Resources Defense Council.
“I cannot stay quiet in an era where we’re having blanket condemnations of entire groups of people,” he continued. “I’m an artist and this is the time artists have to storm the Bastille, as it were.”
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When Mulvey performs at the Yellow Cab Bldg. on Saturday, he’ll be sharing the stage with Dayton-based Shrug, a band he has known since the mid-1990s.
“One of the great privileges of coming to Dayton is the guys in Shrug are going to be my band and they’re fantastic at it,” he said. “They’re excellent musicians and it’s funny because they definitely rock considerably harder than I do. Collaboration is a big part of what I do but the only full-on, rock ‘n’ roll band I play with is Shrug.”
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