Michael Peters
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Michael Peters

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF
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Feb
27
Michael Peters @ The Roxton

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Feb
20
Michael Peters @ The Roxton

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Feb
13
Michael Peters @ The Roxton

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Michael Peters
Independent

Local singer-songwriter Michael Peters recently released this eight-song debut. One of the first things that will strike listeners is Peters’ impressive guitar work, which he showcases not by playing solos, but with his dexterous finger-picking and strong songwriting. Many of the songs include tasteful bridges and codas that don’t distract, but rather serve the song they’re a part of. The acoustic guitar tones are clean and warm, and subtle electric guitar parts---as well as the pedal steel playing of Bill Western and Ron Halldorson---give the songs shade and texture. “Dark Star,” the CD’s first song, is the best. Peters’ voice mixes beautifully with the guest vocals of B.C. singer-songwriter Kim McMechan in a song about two lovers (or is it two potential lovers?) who have reached an impasse in their relationship. The next two songs, “The Last Word” and “Drifting,” mine similar lyrical territory. Although the second half of the disc isn’t as strong as the first, music fans should check this CD out. After all, as David Lee Roth once asked, “Who doesn’t like a well-played acoustic guitar?” - The Uniter


Local singer-songwriter finds his voice on debut CD
Aaron Epp
“Music is completely a meaning-of-life issue for me. It’s certainly not a hobby.” —Michael Peters
There’s obsessed, and then there’s obsessed. When it comes to the guitar, local singer-songwriter Michael Peters falls into the latter category.

Peters owns more than 10 of them. On the back of his new CD, there’s a picture of him holding his guitar case, and it’s handcuffed to his wrist. Friends say he’s literally slept with his guitar. So why did it take the 33-year-old half his life to put out his first CD?

“It just took,” he said, pausing to take a sip from his tea at an Osborne Village restaurant. “It took that long for me to become comfortable as a singer.”

Peters took a moment to think about what he’d just said. He wasn’t happy with the statement.

“I really don’t like self-deprecation,” he explained. “It reflects poorly on the record I just put out.”

The eight-song CD he’s referring to came out in November. Peters released it independently, and said it was an experiment with a very specific sound—an “ambient, acoustic-guitar-and-pedal-steel vibe.” The production is sparse, focusing on his voice and guitar playing. The acoustic guitar tones are clean and warm, and the pedal steel playing of Ron Halldorson (Lenny Breau Trio) and Bill Western gives the songs texture.

“In some places, you can hear me being uncomfortable about being a singer,” said Peters, who makes his living teaching guitar lessons and playing music for cancer patients at St. Boniface Hospital and Health Sciences Centre. Some days he thinks the CD’s great, “and some days I don’t want to hear it at all, which I think everyone is like with something that they make.”

Peters began playing the piano when he was 12. Inspired by Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solo in the Michael Jackson song “Beat It,” he picked up the guitar four years later and became “obsessed.”

He formed various bands and songwriting partnerships with friends. He’d play guitar, and someone else would write and sing the lyrics. Nothing ever came of those projects, however, because his friends lacked the same commitment he had. Self-identifying as a guitarist, he found himself singing out of necessity.

“It was just a kind of prejudice,” he said when asked why he had never sung before. “I just had this very rock solid prejudice against being a singer.”

Then one day, he listened to himself on tape and said, “Shit, I sound great.” Peters the singer was born.

Kim McMechan has been friends with Peters for 10 years. She said his development as a singer has affected more than just his music.

“I think for him, learning to sing strongly and beautifully was a process of him learning about himself,” said McMechan, a B.C.-based singer-songwriter who used to live in Winnipeg. She contributed vocals to four songs on the CD.

“In learning to trust his voice, he’s become more skillful, and everything is better as a result.”

A lot of us have deep-seated beliefs that hold us back unnecessarily. Peters said that if he’s learned anything about himself, it’s how substantial these can be—and what a great surprise it is when we find out they are nonsense.

Now that he’s grown into his role as a singer, he’s looking forward to supporting the CD with a tour in the summer. He also can’t wait to release more music.

“I’ve got a lot of backlogged material that I want to get out,” he said. “In five years, I’d like to have another five records out.”

He’s already begun recording more acoustic solo material, which he said could be released as soon as May. He’s collaborating with local singer-songwriter Vanessa Kuzina on a recording of traditional, old-time mountain songs, and he said he has “a full-blown rock record” ready to be recorded as well.

“Music is completely a meaning-of-life issue for me,” he said. “It’s certainly not a hobby.”

See Michael Peters at Times Change(d) High & Lonesome Club on Jan. 31 with Vanessa Kuzina and Allison de Groot. Visit www.myspace.com/michaelpetersisadaydreamer. - The Uniter


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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