If the idea of longtime friends, bandmates, and collaborators Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey teaming up once again to perform their classic 1991 album Mavericks in its entirety over two nights this week was part of some great master plan, Holsapple says with a chuckle that he wasn’t in on it.
“It was a suggestion of Chris’. I follow along.”
Setting up shop at World Café Live in Philadelphia on Thursday and Brooklyn’s Bell House on Friday, Holsapple and Stamey will be joined by guitarist Dave Schramm (who played on the original album and tour), making it even more of a must see for fans of the beloved album and the folks who created it.
“It’s the one record out of our catalog that gets the best reaction,” said Holsapple. “More people seem to like that record than anything else either of us has done in any of our formats, solo or otherwise. We wanted to see if people wanted to hear it, and they do, which is nice.”
So what is it about Mavericks that has stood the test of time?
“One reason is because the recording quality is so good,” he said. “We made that on a fairly limited budget at a time when people were getting probably ten times as much to go in and make a record. So we were fortunate in that it worked out to our advantage. Chris is such a good producer, and he obviously did the lion’s share of the production. And we also did it at Water Music in Hoboken, which is an old haunt of ours. Everything conspired to work really well together, and I always say that it sounds like a record that cost a lot more to make. There’s something gentle about it, and it’s really hard to say exactly what it is about it that people like so much about it. I’m just grateful that they do.”
Well, the songs penned by the two members of the dBs aren’t too bad either. Holsapple agrees.
“Listening to it, I’m not sure if it doesn’t sound like Chris’ songs are more like me, and my songs are more Chris-like,” he said. “I think the sonic quality is really great, the performances are really good, and I’m certainly glad that people like it so much.”
Of course, with a project like this, especially since more than two decades have passed since the album’s release, you have to wonder if some serious woodshedding has been going on to recall and relearn some of the 12 songs on tap this week.
“It depends on the song,” said Holsapple. “Chris and I did a follow-up record a few years ago called Here and Now, which was the same sort of non-dBs but Chris and Peter stuff. And we did a few of these songs from Mavericks on that tour as well. So we sort of had to relearn it then, and then in some cases, when I was doing solo shows I would do songs from that record as well. So a few of them were already in the vocabulary, but there are definitely some that are requiring some recalibrating. “Anymore” is one. We may have actually performed it one time in life, but I’m not sure that we did it anymore than that, so that’s going to be interesting to see how that goes. It also requires a recorder, which is something that I had, but probably went down with everything else in (Hurricane) Katrina. So I don’t actually have that recorder anymore, plus I should be playing acoustic guitar on the song, so we’re going to have to revamp some of the arrangements, but the main thing is to get the singing and the guitars specifically right. That’s the fundamental aspect of the record, anyway, the two guitarists and the vocals, so if we get that, everything else should be fairly recognizable. Hopefully.”
As for the future, that’s a little more up in the air. Now living in North Carolina after moving from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Holsapple is working “at a real job now,” making long-term touring an unfortunate impossibility
“I put a good long time into trying to make it as a musician, but the arena has changed considerably,” he admits. “I’m 57 years old and I have children and a mortgage, and all of those things that music really doesn’t pay for anymore. I’m still part of that Radio Free Song Club, which I love very much and that is something that keeps me writing songs, but I can’t really play out all that much anymore and I certainly can’t tour very much. I think it’s going to be great to do these shows because Chris and I have always had a positive sound together. We seem to bring out the best in each other, which is very nice, and who knows, maybe after doing these shows, the world will operate correctly and we’ll be able to play some music again. But I’m not going to bet the farm on it, and at the same time, I certainly won’t rule it out.”
Hey, as long as he never says never, there’s hope, right? And until then, you’ve got two nights of Mavericks.