Mischief Brew
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Mischief Brew

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Band Folk Punk

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Apr
25
Mischief Brew @ The Grand Victory

Brooklyn, New York, United States

Brooklyn, New York, United States

This band has not uploaded any videos
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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


""Bakenal" review 1"

“Have a drink with my new friend Erik. Mr. Petersen and I have all of these pints to get through, and there are only the two of us. My new friend’s got a head full of some hella good stories. He’s got an attitude and, even though I’ve never seen his bare arms, I can only picture them inked up like a wedding reception guest book, only with daggers in place of signatures. When he pulls his guitar up onto his lap and plays “Roll Me Through the Gates of Hell,” that’s when it gets special. You won’t want him going to hell without you. He makes it sound like the place where all the best fun is. He’s been there. The rest of us have just heard about it, as in these five amazingly written songs. I say we check the place out.” - Punk Planet Magazine


""Bakenal" review 2"

“Five songs of awesome folk-punk, inspired by anarchist punk roots and Irish folk, and where the cultural and political roots meet and cross. Amazing amped, energetic, catchy songs that you feel deep in your bones. But while amped with energy, this is delivered acoustically – but with a full band. Energetic and danceable and satisfying in a deep soulful way. Inspired by the likes of the Levellers, and classic and traditional roots as well. I can’t say enough about how amazing Erik and his band are. There’s a phenomenon brewing in Philly and I hope it spreads far and wide and gets the punks dancing under the full moon and harvesting the crops in the fields and the weeds in the alleys, playing in gypsy bands and riding the rails, sharing a beer by the fireside and a story on the porch, and having a soundtrack to inspire the dreams of action, freedom, and rebellion. This is amazing!!!!” - Slug And Lettuce


""Bakenal" review 3"

“Mischief Brew plays down home, upbeat acoustic music that is somewhere between gypsy rock and folk punk. I’m familiar with Erik Petersen’s stuff from the split LP with Robert Blake (which spent a good long time in the stereo at Ebullition HQ) – and I really like his spirited resistance poetry. Mischief Brew poses as a full (jug) band version of that same appealing folk stuff – though it is just a few others chiming in from time to time. Most of this is basically just Erik Petersen and his guitar. This is a lot of rocking moments and even more that overflow with personality and vivacity. This CD has some really great stuff; recommended for folk enthusiasts or those down with the pirate vibe.” - HeartAttack


""Bakenal" review 4"

“What really pisses me off is that there are only five songs on this disc. This is one of the best discs I’ve heard in a long time. Acoustic, folk-type music is the best way to describe this, but then it is a woefully inadequate description of this fun, quirky, catchy, and wildly entertaining music. I really love this. It could only be improved by being about two hours longer.”
- Impact Press


""Bellingham & Philadelphia" review 1"

“One of the most attractive qualities of punk rock is the fact that so many records carry important messages that mainstream media just wouldn’t allow. Both Erik Petersen and Robert Blake take that to heart on this amazing split album by two singers/songwriters with important messages to share. Erik Petersen delivers six inspired songs that land somewhere between Tom Waits, Justin Sane, and the Tossers, while Robert Blake’s material comes with a heavy folk influence a la early Bob Dylan. Indeed it was Bob Dylan who first truly combined politics, social commentary and popular music. Years later, it is the same spirit that drives these two musicians to write songs that contain not just catchy choruses, but also observations on topics not usually approached by musicians. Yes, it is incredibly difficult to put into words what these two so eloquently put into their music. However, it is easy to say that, as intimate as singer/songwriter releases normally are, this split is twice as touching, important and inspirational.” - Punk Planet


""Bellingham & Philadelphia" review 2"

“It seems to me that there are few genres as loaded with a ripe potential for unadulterated mediocrity as political folk music. As someone who travels in activist circles, in the past year I've found myself embroiled in several heated (I kid you not) arguments about whether or not political folk music has any real relevancy to contemporary political struggle in the United States.
Now let me first say that I more or less believe it when people tell me that the folk culture championed by likes of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez, and the all the lesser-known black musicians from whom they originally copped their style (see, for one, Mr. Huddie Ledbetter) at one time had a certain resonance in the political scene, no doubt turning scores of kids on to the Civil Rights Movement and spreading awareness about the injustices of the American status quo. But now it's four decades later: three decades after many of the original instigators of the 60’s movement gave up on the hippy-dippy, nonviolence-at-all-costs atmosphere that is usually associated with the Dylan and his ilk, and just in time for the early stages of what will no doubt become one of the most apocalyptic and potentially explosive eras of American political history. For those who haven't yet done so, isn't it about time to start questioning whether or not this "protest folk" associated with the past can still be seen as an appropriate accompaniment to the
struggles that are going on all around us today? Is this still the music of resistance, or is this just nostalgia for what resistance used to look like?
If you ask me, not only are the times a’changin', they have a’changed. With the rise of hip hop and punk as outlets for venting revolutionary opposition to government repression, the uninformed groupthink right-wing's purges of any progressive-populist/anti-government sentiments from country music, and the general yuppifcation of properly termed folk music on the whole, the saliency of political folk has certainly withered significantly over time. Today more a vehicle for liberal condescension than a genuine means of agitation, political folk writ large has essentially been stripped of its communicative ability and today mostly serves as a means for political people who care more about lyrics than they do musical composition to chuckle or feel smug about themselves and their superior politics... that or to bring back fond, hallucinatory memories of the comfortable, bougie-pacifist revolution that never quite happened in the US.
Indeed, the only thing that makes me sadder than having to endure some middle-aged white guy or gal belting out a mediocre folk ditty written from the perspective of an imaginary Iraqi child, is the recognition that after he or she his done there will always be a handful of people lined up to buy their latest album so that they can possess what must be the audio equivalent of one those delightful "NO BLOOD FOR OIL" bumper stickers: not art by any means, simply an affirmation of one's own opinions.
But though the protest folk scene of today has by and large been reduced to little more than poorly-composed modifications of the great revolution we're all either waiting for or scared shitless of, after giving a listen to Bellingham & Philadelphia, a split between political folksters Robert Blake and Erik Petersen, I've found that I can't pronounce the genre dead quite yet.
Following in the musical footsteps of acts like Against Me!, whose bread-and-butter is the blending of jaunty sing-along political punk songs with sensitive acoustic ballads, Erik Petersen is an acoustic-wielding punker from the city of brotherly love whose talent for painting anarcho-punk pictures of the ruins of urban collapse and suburban moral vacancy is almost unparalleled. For those not already hip to Petersen's music, his opening six-track contribution to this split will no doubt represent a new hope for meaningful political folk music as this Philadelphia native has conjured up a brand of music which is simultaneously painfully earnest, engaging, politically conscious, and above all, played without a hint of nostalgia.
On the opening track, "Every Town Will Celebrate," a gravel-voiced Petersen shouts out the foreboding story of Celebration, FL, a town built and operated by the Disney Corporation. With an ominously perky refrain of "Every town will celebrate someday! / Waving sweatshop flags and grandé lattés / wearing culture on their backs / wearing spirit on their hats / one by one they'll join the parade and celebrate!" Petersen
indignantly spins yarns about the quasi-fascist nature of American monoculture while his loose guitar strumming, punctuated phrasing, and occasional hooting exclamations ("Heeeey!") keeps the music barreling forward. By contrast, "Olde Tyme Mem'ry" is a much slower and more sentimental dignified requiem for lost things (such as humanity, home, and good whiskey). "Boycott Me!" returns more to the indignant pissed-off folk of "Every Town" but is also Petersen's most politically heavy-handed song, referencing the Fraternal Order of Police's much publicized boycott of radical performers and artists because of their support for the political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Though all of Petersen's tracks on Bellingham & Philadelphia are for the most part flawless, the two real stand-outs on the split are "Dirty Pennies," a lengthy, emotive vignette that shamelessly pulls on the listener's heartstrings to reveal a tale of social division of the costs of authoritarianism, and the percussion-backed "Liberty Unmasked"
which plays as close to Against Me! as anything on this album. "Fare Well, Good Fellows" simply closes out Petersen's half with talk of revolution and the need to find one's own path through it.
If you're feeling burned by the state of politically-minded folk music, I'd strongly advise you to give this split a serious listen before you throw out all your old Dylan albums in utter disgust. As uneven as this split is, I can guarantee it'll be more than worth your time to hear a unique brand of folk music that will make you want to run out and smash the state. Protest folk may be on the decline, but it sure as heck ain't finished.”
- Deep Fry Bonanza Webzine


Discography

"Mirth" (cassette demo, eight songs, Fistolo Records)
"Bellingham & Philadelphia" (split LP/CD w/Robert Blake, six songs, Art of the Underground)
"Bakenal" (CDep, five songs, Fistolo Records)
"Oh Sweet Misery" (7" single, two songs, Art of the Underground)
"Two Boxcars" (split 7" EP w/David Dondero, two songs, Fistolo Records)
"Smash The Windows" (CD, 13 songs, Fistolo Records)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Once upon a time, an energetic earthy punk kid from the Philly area confined himself to a basement with an acoustic guitar, a rickety drum kit, a mandolin, and a four-track to stir a bunch of ideas together into a broth of songs. The resulting concoction was “Mirth: or, Certain Verses Composed and Fitted to Tunes, for the Delight and Recreation of All,” an eight-song demo cassette of acoustic punk influenced by medieval danses and raucous Romany dust-raising ditties. The tape had many styles of folk besides traditional Americana: from the Klezmer-punk of “A Liquor Never Brewed” to the medieval green-anarchist march of “One Stone Cast,” the tape robbed from many cultural styles of folk music, and spiked the brew with punk rock.
Mischief Brew is Erik Petersen, and vice versa. The “Mirth” demo was only the beginning of a phenomenon, a folk-punk revival of sorts that the U.K. has seen many times (from the Pogues to the Levellers to even some modern crust bands that sing in Gaelic). Over the next few years, two proper releases would emerge: “Bellingham & Philadelphia” (a split LP/CD of stripped down political folk with Bellingham bard Robert Blake) and “Bakenal” (a CDep, the soundtrack of “Django Reinhardt meets Shane MacGowan in a dark alley…”). With these two releases in the arsenal, Mischief Brew toured thrice in the U.S., played punk houses and rowdy bars for punks, hippies, folksters, locals, workers, ramblers, trainhoppers, hitchhikers, and all of their parents. He’s made a habit of playing acoustic at Philadelphia’s Pointless Fest, a secret midnight show in West Philly’s Clark Park. Well over a hundred people showed up last year to hear the rollicking songs under the moonlight.
After two summers of tours, it’s back to the drawing board once again to produce three records. A 7” single on Buffalo’s Art of the Underground Records (“Oh Sweet Misery,” a twisted little love song that sparked a debate as to whether it was more Bob Dylan or Hank Williams), a split 7” EP with Future Farmer’s amazing songcrafter David Dondero (featuring two nasty little anarcho-folk songs!), and a full-length CD of music that is an amalgamation of all-of-the-above: political folk meets gypsy jazz and punk swing (recorded at Vibromonk Records in Brooklyn)…if it had to fit under one banner, it would read: “Carnivalesque.”

Influences/similarities: The Pogues, The Levellers, Django Reinhardt, Subhumans, World/Inferno Friendship Society, Firewater, The Clash, Calexico, Stan Rogers, Tom Waits.