Grant Peeple's arrived at the European Street listening room in Jacksonville last night with the latest rendition of The Peeples Republik Band, and in his purely Grant Peeples' way, entertained the heck out of a pretty decent Thursday night audience. Every move, right down to his scripted sales pitch for Sopchoppy's own LeftNeck Tupelo Honey (attractively modeled by the lovely Susan Brown), was designed to exploit his audience's attention -- in order to instill his version of their own good. Grant doesn't just have a point of view, he IS a point of view. What you hear...and what you see... is exactly what you get. The evening was a nearly perfect mix of Grant standards (The Hanging) and new tunes (My People Come From The Dirt) for his planned third recording that he'll start working on in November.
Grant takes his audience on an emotional roller coaster ride, slipping from the far side of musical humor to the bottom of an emotional pit dug deep in the dirt of rural, impoverished Florida -- the significant bits of this state that they don't advertise to the tourists. And last night he was spot-on with a crew of talented musicians for support. Mike Legacy flat picked lightening fast lead guitar licks that were slick enough to impress, yet had just enough rough-around-the-edges necessary to the Peeples ambiance.
Eric Avlar, a music student at Florida State University, who was told he couldn't study the mandolin there, took up the bass instead. Eric supplied a sure steady, and often inventive foundation. How often to you get to hear a bass solo in a folk or americana tune? We got a great one last night. Eric also picked up the mandolin on short notice and tastefully filled in the blanks...
Susan Brown, who has been featured on these pages previously for her ever refined performances with partner Jamie DeFrates, added the feminine counterpoint essential to the Peeples' music. Harmonies and solo passages beautifully sung also point to the versatility of Grant's writing. Not many tough guys can write well for a woman's point of view. He does that really well.
Behind the band and generally out of camera range sat Randy Judy, providing percussion accents with a set of bongo drums, an inverted cardboard box, and a set of drummer brushes.
Overall it was Grant Peeples entertaining his people at his philosophical and musical best. Not to mention that song "Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns". You'll need to buy the new CD -- or track Grant down in performance before he hits the studio in November to hear that one. It can be a struggle to be a niche musician in a country with a 15 second attention span and an addiction to dance music. Grant Peeples is capitalizing pretty well in that situation. His fans, including me, hope that he can raise enough capital to continue raging against the machine for a long, long time to come.