So I’m gearing up for this next tour and was sifting through a slew of old tapes to post on the site and came across this lovely live recording of Peter Holsapple from the dB’s performing in Australia in 1989 on the radio. I’m 99% sure this is a bootleg, but I purchased this at Ides Records in Pittsburgh with my student loan money and I remember it was more expensive than a dinky little cassette should’ve been. However, I became so immediately enchanted with the tape that I almost completely forgot.
Mr. Holsapple, as many of you will undoubtedly know, was in R.E.M. at the time of this recording and was filling in on guitar and keyboard duties quite handily. However, his own songwriting chops were at least as good, if not better, than his employers. He didn’t stay in the band but for another couple of years before arguments regarding credits and royalties dissolved their relationship. It’s a pity. They really could’ve used him through the 90’s.
I became quite a dB’s obsessive at the time I was in Pittsburgh studying for my master’s degree. I got to see the Holsapple/Stamey "Mavericks" tour in Baltimore, Philly and da Burgh and Peter was even kind enough to give me a tour shirt which some odd girlfriend undoubtedly stole a few years later.
In addition, my roommate during this time was a fellow ex-college radio DJ and had tastes that either mimicked or inspired my own. He was a few years older than me and had great (if not legendary) stories of shows at CMJ in the mid-80’s and shows that he saw at the Iron Horse in Western Massachusetts. In 1987, The dB’s were one of them. And earlier that night, he conducted an interview with Peter that he kept and I copied before we became ex-roommates.
When I worked at the Flagpole, in 1994, I did an interview with him when he was in the Continental Drifters. The thing ended with me saying I had to split to go see Sonic Youth, Harry Pussy and The Make*Up at Legion Field on the UGA campus. I distinctly remember him urging me to hang up and go because Legion Field shows were "magical". The show he did a week or so later at the 40 Watt was incredible. Mike Mills even came up to help some 4 part harmonies on a Mamas and the Papas cover. Ah, I guess Athens can be magical.
Anyway, even 20 years later, I still absolutely adore Peter’s songwriting. His involvement with Hootie and the Blowfish notwithstanding, his pedigree is impeccable. And judging from his myspace blog, he’s shaved his head, has a daughter, got his notary license and has now relocated back in North Carolina after Katrina. And would you believe that he loves Dark Meat? The old guy’s still got it.
If you’re wondering where to start with his body of work "Stands for Decibels" has just been reissued with the second album "Repercussion" on the Collector’s Choice Series. "Black and White" is as close to perfection that three minutes can be. And yes, there was a dB’s reunion last year and no, I couldn’t go. And oh! Here’s a link to some live dB’s shows lurking out there on the interweb.
Peter Holsapple – Today Could Be The Day
Peter Holsapple – Why Did You Sleep With My Girlfriend?
Peter Holsapple – The Child In You
Peter Holsapple – Lonely Is As Lonely Does
Peter Holsapple – All Your LIfe
Peter Holsapple – Soul Kiss
Holsapple Radio Interview (rough) 10/87