Peter Case Announces First Post Heart Surgery Releases
Is it surprising to you that a 3-time Grammy-nominated artist like Peter Case might not have insurance? Last nominated for his 2007 Yep Roc album Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John, Case like thousands of musicians and artists in the United States, was nearly a statistic of our now slowly recovering health care system. "I was told I needed a sophisticated diagnostic test and cost was definitely an issue," says Case of the period just before it was discovered one of his coronary arteries was 99% blocked. "I was moving into waters that were far too deep for me." Peter's condition would require immediate open-heart surgery. "I had no idea how I'd pay for it but the doctors just took great care of me and asked no questions. I owe them my life."
One double bypass, five days in the hospital and a six-figure medical bill later, Case's friends and fans organized to raise the money for the cost of his care. Benefit shows were staged in Austin, Houston and Nashville, as was a three-night extravaganza at McCabe's in Santa Monica, CA. The gigs featured heavyweight friends like master of ceremonies T Bone Burnett and performers Loudon Wainwright III, Dave Alvin, Richard Thompson, Joe Henry, Van Dyke Parks and many more. "My fans and friends really bailed me out and came through for me helping with my medical bills. I have a lot to be thankful for."
While on the mend, Case says for a good while he hung out listening to jazz records. "I was in a very diminished chord kind of mood." But all that changed while prepping the reissues of albums by his early rock outfits The Plimsouls and The Nerves. "I had to do the mastering and spent quite a bit of time listening to the old records. It really got me going, hearing those guitars."
Following an especially rocking sold-out comeback show at McCabe's where he debuted the tunes he'd been assembling in his recovery months, Case began to work in earnest on a new album. "We played on a Friday, worked up some more songs on Sunday, entered the studio on Tuesday and at the end of Wednesday the album was mainly finished." Full-on electric and loaded down with dirty, raw blues riffs, Wig! was recorded largely live and definitely straight to analog tape. "It felt really good to rock again," says Case.
Case is accompanied by DJ Bonebrake of X on drums and Ron Franklin, leader of the Minneapolis-based Gasoline Silver, on lead guitar. Memphis rocker Franklin has worked with everyone from garage rock's Jack Oblivian to Arthur Lee of Love and producers Jim Dickinson and Willie Mitchell; his own cult classic Blue Shadows Falling is one of Peter's all time favorite albums.
So, did Case ever consider giving up rock for a more sedate post-op life? "I'm what you'd call 'very extremely over committed' at this point," he chuckles. Naturally, there's a national full band tour in the works.