Friday, April 18, 2008
Concert Junkie: Say Hello to Pete and J
Mix Simon and Garfunkel harmonies with Wilco, add uniqueness; the result is Brooklyn duo Pete and J. Peter “Pete” Harper, from outside of Chicago, and Jason “J” Blynn from the south side of Philadelphia, have been spreading their voices across the U.S. and the U.K. Their songs send underlining, honest messages whether they’re about love, suburban life or politics.
“People who really like our music, end up getting the real viewpoint,” says Pete via cell phone. “We don’t stand on a pedestal and preach our views. Instead, we leave that with more of the context in the songs.”
Pete and J met at Amherst College in MA, and they both took turns being in charge of the world-renowned a capella group Zumbye, which tackled the Beatles Bob Marley, Ozzy and some Michael Jackson songs.
“We both wrote about 75 percent of the arrangements and even choreography for the group,” says J.
However, Pete thought “it was the geekiest thing in the whole world,” but eventually he became the leader of it.
“We learned so much,” says Pete. “People knew us and some 500-600 people would come see the group [Zumbye] perform. It was close to rock stardom.”
In-between their studies and a capella performances, the two picked up guitars and started crafting originals together. They were regulars at the Marsh Coffeehouse during their Amherst days. After J graduated, he lived and worked in Sao Paolo, Brazil as an English teacher. Pete visited his fellow band-mate where they talked about taking their music to the next level.
“Listening to Brazilian music and living in Brazil helped me gain a worldly perspective,” reflects J. “Portuguese is such a beautiful, lyrical language.”
Their very first recording, “A Few of Our Favorites,” was greeted with a light response. However, in 2005, Pete and J released “Without a Band” and the next year released “Dressed for Conversation," both had more acclaim. Currently and constantly on tour, the duo is generating a big response with sold out crowds at the Red Devil Lounge in San Francisco and the Double Door in Chicago. The next stops for the guys are in MA, MD and D.C in May. They hope to head to the U.K. for a fourth go-around in the fall. Plus, they are trying to be apart of the USO tours on-top of writing more material. Keep your eyes set on this pulsating pair.
By Lori, who really enjoyed talking to both Pete and J. The picture was taken at the Bowery Ballroom back in March. Pete is on the left, J on the right.