Q&A with East Coast guitarist Peter V - steaming full-bore blues, funk, soul and swinging good time music

"I think it’s fair to say at least from my perspective most blues guys & gals' politics lean to the left. Blues emanates from black culture who struggled & suffered in America where there was a lot of racial tension."

Peter V: Blues Train Running

Busting right out of the gate with steaming full-bore blues, funk, soul and swinging good time music is the Peter V Blues Train and their third album “Running Out Of Time” (2018) hard on the heels of their 2017 album “On Track”. Led by guitarist-vocalist Peter Veteska (aka Peter V), this stalwart quartet and a few select guests deliver muscular arrangements of seven original tracks and four inspired cover tunes. The four-piece unit includes Aron Louis Gornish on keyboards and a rhythm section composed of Alex D’Agnese on drums and Sean Graverson on bass. They’re aided by a pair of music heavyweights: Jeff Levine, the keyboard player who led Joe Cocker’s band and worked with Hall & Oates and The Chambers Brothers, and sax player Danny Walsh, who has worked with Gregg Allman, Aerosmith and several jazz superstars. They’re augmented by Tom Adams (piano), Coo moe Jhee (bass), Eddie Jackson (congas and vocals), Gary Neuwirth (harmonica) and Kelley Dewkett (vocals) for one cut each.

The album opener ‘Stay On Track’ sets the tone with a jagged Stratocaster riff augmented by spicy sax and organ fills. Jeff Levine adds barrelhouse piano to a swinging cover of Richard Ray Ferrel’s ‘Cherry On The Cream.’ The saxophone of Danny Walsh meshes perfectly with Peter V’s guitar to intro the lowdown blues, ‘Buzzed Busted & Blue.’ The 1941 blues standard ‘Worried Life Blues,’ is brought kicking and screaming into the 21st century before Peter V takes a few liberties with an Albert King riff to create his own man-cave anthem ‘Running Out Of Time.’ The East coast boys then lay down some great Oakland funk on the hot instrumental ‘Time To Collect.’ The crew has big bunch of fun covering Coasters’ classic ‘Youngblood,’ then the acoustic blues ‘Time For Me To Go,’ slips in as a delightful palette cleanser. Another slow-blues burner, ‘Freedom,’ features Veteska on the fretboard and serves as a follow-up to the tune that comes before as it questions the value of finally being free to miss a lady he still has feelings for. Peter V hands over the lead vocal reigns to Jersey Shore girl Kelley Dewket for a smooth semi acoustic cover of Bonnie Raitt’s hit ‘Love Me Like A Man.’ The smooth soul celebration of life’ Lay Down My Friend,’ was penned as a tribute to Peter V’s old friend and mentor, bluesman and fellow NY Blues Hall Of Fame inductee, Michael Packer, closing the album with some pure blues love power.

Interview by Michael Limnios

What do you learn about yourself from the Blues people and culture? What were the reasons that you started the Blues and Jazz researches?

I grew up in a very tough neighborhood in Brooklyn NY for me Blues is about overcoming adversity and meeting life challenges head on. It is through that experience that I relate to the Blues.

Blues is a guttural music It’s about expressing a feeling despair or jubilation through music. There’s a simplicity to Blues which makes it challenging. Jazz however is a different skill set They are both improvisational So, for me, fusing the two genres works It’s important to push the boundaries with music other you’re just doing what’s already been done.

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

I met many fine musicians mostly at various blues jams. Two people in particular helped me by giving me guidance & advice. Bob DelRosso who is an incredible blues guitarist helped me with my tone & discussing the importance of dynamics.

His feel & pocket is second to none and always plays in the moment. Ernie W also gave me immeasurable advice by telling the importance of being a good rhythm guitarist and slowing down on my solos and landing them correctly less is more, this applies to most creative things music, art, architecture etc.

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

As is with country music the blues music today is infusing other genres of music. Rock, jazz, funk country etc.  some of it is done quite well but much of it strays off too far from blues.  It’s important that we don’t dilute what the first-generation blues greats created. I’m all for pushing the envelope but we must respect the past.

"Blues is a guttural music It’s about expressing a feeling despair or jubilation through music."

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

More emphasis on the music and less about the image.

What has made you laugh and what touched (emotionally) you from local NYC blues scene?

NY Blues Hall of Fame the Criteria they used for induction was unexpected. I was inducted after 4 years on the musical scene although I was deeply honored I’m not sure if it was deserved at the time.

How has the Blues and Jazz music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Blues music as I’m discovering is like a big family. Weather on a local level or national there’s tremendous camaraderie and some very interesting Individuals.

What is the impact of Blues music and culture to the racial, political, and socio-cultural implications? 

I think it’s fair to say at least from my perspective most blues guys & gals' politics lean to the left. Blues emanates from black culture who struggled & suffered in America where there was a lot of racial tension. I see many of today’s blues musicians DJ’s & publishers speak out against our establishment in FB posts. I think they have an impact.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

Witness live & in person a young BB King live at the Regal in that Legendary Concert. The passion & energy that he played with electrified the audience It was the birth of the electric blues.

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