Peter Evans, a jazz/blues/folk artist from metropolitan Philadelphia, has a lifetime history as a musician, studying guitar and voice initially with Philadelphia Folksong Society co-founder George Britton in the 1960’s. Peter has maintained his love of the music as an a cappella singer for the past 40 years, including performing with the Yale Whiffenpoofs, for whom he served as musical director.
Peter’s songwriting has recently been informed by a project he started in March, 2018 on US Route 1, the first Interstate highway in the United States. Ever since his days at Yale, he’s wanted to take pictures on Route 1, but that impetus has evolved into Route1Views.com, a geo-specific, interactive social website, celebrating the people who have lived and worked along the road. “We are more divided as a country now than at any other point in my lifetime”, says Evans. “Perhaps with the exception of 1968. If in some small way Route1Views helps us to realize how much we share and how we are connected, then all of the effort will have been worth it.”
Prior to exploring and documenting the highway, Peter was a producer for Drew Nugent, a jazz pianist, vocalist and trumpet player from Philadelphia. Evans and Nugent spent several years collaborating as songwriters and penned four of the tracks on Drew’s CD “I’ll Never Be the Same” (2017), which featured several members of Nugent’s Midnight Society, Rob Hyman (The Hooters), Alfred Goodrich (Alfred James Band) and singers from the Orpheus Club of Philadelphia.
“Clockworks” (2016) resulted from four days of songwriting in Venice Beach and Downtown LA with Drew Nugent, Shayna Zaid and Cynthia Carle. With Evans as the project curator, the quartet moved as the way opened. There was a deliberate repurposing of music from the swing era of the 1920’s and 1930’s into an exuberant “neo-Swing” for the early 21st Century. Percussionist, Michael Jerome (Better Than Ezra, Richard Thompson Trio) added his magic bonding sauce to the mix during two recording sessions at Votiv Studios in the LA Arts District.
Peter released Miss Nomer’s Number in 2015, which was produced and co-written with Bradley Kohn, who encouraged Evans to combine his fascination with Gypsy swing with pop elements. They recorded in Los Angeles and Philadelphia with Michael Jerome, Alfred Goodrich, Jeffrey Radaich (guitars), and Richard Hardy (flutes, saxophones). The album includes You Tube fan favorites “Dancing Shoes” and “Lie, Cheat and Steal” which both feature the vocal work of ARORA (Bioluminescence -2015).
“While it was fun to shoot video based on the mood and lyrics, it has been very rewarding to turn that process around with Route1Views and have the photography inform my songwriting”, declares Evans. Around every corner waits a new story, a new view and maybe even a new way of telling a story or writing a song.
Peter has been a member of the Orpheus Club of Philadelphia since 1982, serving as an emergency conductor, as House Chairman, and most recently as Cersei Lannister in the hairy-legged stage adventure “Gamey Thrones” for the 2019 Revels. He was an original member of The Tonics a cappella band in 1990, with whom he continues to perform and arrange music without instruments. A new/used (n’used?) accordion has been added to Peter’s arsenal of instruments which he plays with the Bacchus Boys, a folkie troupe and outreach for the Orpheus Club. Peter has travelled and performed with the Alfred James Band and the Orpheus Club in Bermuda (2016), Cuba (2017) and Italy (2018).