Story last updated at 3:54 p.m. Thursday, November 21, 2002

Mulvey strikes chord in subway
by Carey James
Staff Writer

photo: entertainment

Peter Mulvey  
Most musicians claim some background experience as the root of their success, but few would say they gleaned it all as a busker in subway tunnels.

Peter Mulvey, singer-songwriter

  • Where: Alice's Champagne Palace

  • When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.

  • Tickets: $16 advance, $18 at the door

  • More Info: 235-1921

    HEAD:Mulvey strikes chord in subway

    CAPTION:Peter Mulvey

  • But that's where singer-songwriter Peter Mulvey, who plays tonight at Alice's Champagne Palace, found his groove.

    Mulvey said he came to play in the subway stations for economic reasons, but came away with much more than a few crumpled dollar bills. The experience honed his performance and musical talents, he said in a press release.

    "It's all about the subway, which I can safely call the greatest single object lesson of my performing life," he said. "I quickly learned that, down there, ego fails. Charm fails, will fails, gimmicks fail. The only thing that succeeded for me (and then only sometimes) was immersion. Immersion in the moment and the music."

    Mulvey said the repeated scene day after day gave him a chance to learn what really grabbed people, if only for a few minutes between the Boston trains.

    "I learned to love that time after rush hour, when the crush thinned out, the intervals between the trains widened, and a single situation would play itself out over and over, hypnotically, like Beckett's '(Waiting for) Godot,' or Bill Murray's 'Groundhog Day' -- a couple dozen people wander to a halt in front of you, they wait in the silence, and you you try to reach them with music," he said.

    These days, Mulvey plays to slightly larger crowds. His latest recording, "Ten Thousand Mornings," indulges Mulvey's interest in collaboration with other musicians. The songs are written by the likes of Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and Leo Kottke, with vocals, guitar backup and the occasional shoe solo by familiar names such as Chris Smither and Jennifer Kimball.

    Mulvey, who has been to Homer in past years, has received rave reviews for both his performance style and his musical talent. Acoustic Guitar magazine called his style "poetic and hip," while a Boston Globe reviewer wrote, "Peter Mulvey is all substance, which is his style."

    The Irish Times said Mulvey is "consistently the most original and dynamic of the U.S. singer-songwriters to tour these shores A phenomenal performer with huge energy, a quick fire, quirky take on life, and an extraordinary guitar style."

    Tickets for Mulvey's performance are on sale at Solstice Music and the Bookstore.

    Carey James can be reached at