Peter White continues to enjoy his musical career
Guitarist joins Al Stewart at the Egyptian
Most people know Al Stewart for the singles “Year of the Cat,” “On the boarder,” “Time Passages,” “Song on the Radio” and “Midnight Rocks.”
Peter White, however, knows Stewart in a different way. White — the full-time guitarist for Stewart’s band from 1975 to 1994 — said he not only sees the well-known lyricist as a friend, but als as a mentor, a bandleader and as someone willing to share songwriting credits.
“After playing in Top 40 music for a year, which I thought I had made a mistake in career choices, I began playing with Al,” Stewart said during a telephone interview with The Park Record. “I became part of his band. I became part of his music. I wrote songs with him and recorded albums with him.
“He allowed me to use my creativity,” White said. “I’m lucky that way because I think most musicians don’t end up in the position to play music they want to play and the way they want to play it. They end up in bands where people will tell them how they will play the music.”
White added he’s happy to have contributed to Stewart’s successful career that include hitting the U.S. Billboard charts with a string of albums starting with 1975’s “Modern Times” and continued with “Year of the Cat” (1976) “Time Passages” (1978) and “24 Carrots” (1980).
White will accompany Stewart during a four-night run at the Egyptian Theatre that starts on Thursday, Feb. 16.
The two won’t be alone for the performance, White said.
“There will be three of us there because Mark Messier will also be with us,” White said. “He’s a multi-instrumentalist who plays sax, flute, harmonica and percussion. He’s an old friend of Al’s and mine from the early 1980s.”
While Stewart will be the focus of the show, White will get a chance to show off some of his solo acoustic-guitar work.
“There is a consensus that I will be doing something, but I don’t know what, yet,” he said. “I will do something.”
Next week’s shows will mark White’s first time performing in Park City, although he has performed in Salt Lake City many times.
One of the first shows he did as a solo guitarist was in 1995 on the inaugural Night of Sax and Guitars tour that stopped at the Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City.
The musicians included saxophonists Richard Elliott and Warren Hill and guitarists Craig Chaquico and White.
“That show is very significant, because that was the very first guitars and saxes show, ever,” White said. “We had just put that show together and it continued for about 15 years. I wasn’t always on it, but I was on a lot of them.”
The concert also marked the beginning of White’s career as a solo artist, although he had released a solo album “Reveillez-Vous” in 1990.
“Up to that point, I had been playing with Al and then went on tour with Basia for the second part of 1994,” White said.
When the Basia tour ended, White’s manager told him about the guitar and saxes concert.
“I said, ‘That’s a terrible idea,’“ White said with a laugh. “I don’t know any of those guys and there would be clashing egos and all of that.
“I later realized that it was my fear talking,” he said. “All I could think about what could go wrong, but in reality, it was fantastic.”
It was then I was officially a solo artist, although I had released my first solo album (“Reveillez-Vous) four years before.
Throughout his solo career, White has released 15 albums, including two holiday albums and three albums featuring cover songs.
The latest, “Groovin,’“ which was released a few months ago, is his third cover-song album.
“I get the urge to play those kinds of songs once every decade, and I love doing that,” White said.
His first cover album, “Reflections,” was released in 1994.
Tracks include “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love,” “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” “No Woman No Cry” and “How Deep Is Your Love.”
I thought it would be fun to put together an album of old songs and do them my own way, because I didn’t have time to write a whole album of original songs,” he said.
“Playin’ Favorites,” the second cover album, was released in 2006.
Songs include “What Does It Take (to Win Your Love),” “Crazy Love” and ‘Hit the Road Jack.”
“ I realized that I had so many ideas left over from that first album, that I had the makings of a whole new album,” White said.
The same scenario led to “Groovin,’“ which features “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay” and “I Can See Clearly Now” to name a few.
Although the cover tunes are culled from songs with lyrics, White has made it a point to make his solo instrumental originals sound lyrical without the use of words.
“Both Al and I grew up listening to The Shadows, which was an English instrumental band with a guitar player named Hank Marvin,” White said. “They played very lyrical melodies, and I’ve never felt a song always needed words to be a good song.”
White and Stewart tapped into that philosophy during their co-writing sessions.
“In Al Stewart’s music, there are a lot of melodic instrumental lines, a lot played on guitar,” White said. “I wrote two songs with him for his ‘Time Passages’ album: the title track and the last track, ‘End of the Day.’
“That song was basically an instrumental piece that Al added words to, but he liked the melody I played on the guitar so much that he let the first half of the song go by without him even singing a note,” White said. “Even back then I was getting ideas that I could make a full album of melodic guitar music.”
White enjoys working with Stewart because he allows the guitarist to experiment.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing Al’s music,” he said. “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have stuck around for 20 years.
“The reason why I still have joy in playing music is because I’m playing the music that I love,” White said. “If you really feel you want to do something and they tell you something isn’t going to work or something isn’t going to fly, you need to listen to yourself and feel what you feel.”
Al Stewart — with special guest guitarist Peter White — will perform at 8 p.m. from Thursday to Saturday, Feb. 16-18, and at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 19, at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St. Thursday tickets range from $29 to $45. Friday, Saturday and Sunday tickets range from $35 to $55. Tickets can be purchased by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com.
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