Peter Baldwin captures crowds with just a guitar and voice, and not in a cringe-inducing, look-at-me-I'm-the-next-John Mayer way. He sings with an intimate, raw style revealed through hushed tones, naked vulnerability and an intense, delicate vibrato.
Live, he stops crowds in their tracks.
Before you think he's too sappy, he surprises you with his cover of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and originals that warm listeners of all ages.
Baldwin returns to Crowbar in Tampa New Year's Eve (with Greymarket and other artists, $5) and takes some time from his holiday plans to answer some questions for tbt*.
Just recently: "It's been a crazy couple of years. Since finishing Full Sail (University) two years ago, I've recorded and released a live album called I Was Here, helped Laiza Rodriguez start up her project, Vasti, started and ended a jazz-rock fusion band called Bop Gun, and collaborated on a few projects with friends. Tru, my manager (James "Tru" Truitt), and I also started our own artist label, which we named Rock Ya Girl. And, of course, about a billion shows. About."
His upbringing: "I was born and raised in Anchorage (Alaska). … I did spend about a year and a half in Pensacola when I was younger. My mother was a choir director in church, and my two older sisters sound like angels. My little sister is getting pretty good, too. Pop dances pretty smooth, but don't ask him to sing. My family definitely encouraged my love for music, but I wouldn't say that they influenced my style so much."
His viewpoint on the latest news: "Oh, God, the news about Brittany (Murphy) really hurts, and really it's the news about all the tragedy pop culture has suffered this year. (He expresses these feelings in his blog, peterbaldwinrocks.com.)
"When you first start writing your songs, you look at pop culture like it's The Man, and nothing could be further from the truth. People that really stand out, the Princes and the Heath Ledgers and the Bettie Pages, are angels. They're the spirits of their time. I honestly do want to be a part of that culture because it's this unique collection of contributions people make to their current societies. It's taking on the responsibility of saying what your generation wants to say and feeling what your generation feels. Gaga's really good at it, and I want to be good at it, too. Otherwise, I'd be wasting feelings."
Is he serious? "Truth is, I take everything very seriously, especially emotions. Humor is just my way of avoiding that, I suppose. And it keeps me interested in what I'm saying to use wit. Keeps everyone interested, and alive, and leaving the show with good feelings. I just want my music to make fat, happy babies."
If Music Was a Woman: “It's an angry song that says, 'You wouldn't have my heart to break if I had music to hold.' … I originally wrote and recorded it to a beat that a friend, Antonio Ervin, made for me."
Favorite song: “If There's Love by Citizen Cope. Was that this year? (No, 2002.) I can never keep track of time. I'll be dating things 2009 'til next March probably."
Album of the decade: "So much pressure. I'd have to say Damito Jo by Janet Jackson."
Wish for next decade: "Kids."