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News & Blogs Erik Petersen - Mischief Brew

Discussion in 'Obituaries' started by landpirate, Jul 16, 2016.

  1. landpirate

    landpirate C.U.N.T (campervan untilising nomadic traveller)
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    There's not lot of details about what happened.

    http://thekey.xpn.org/2016/07/15/rip-erik-petersen-mischief-brew/

    R.I.P. Erik Petersen of Mischief Brew
    July 15th, 2016 | 5:21PM | By John Vettese

    957993963_77602cffb2_o.
    Erik Petersen of Mischief Brew performing at West Philly’s Cedar Park in 2007 | photo by John Vettese


    Heartbreaking news today for the Philadelphia punk rock community – and the music scene at large. Erik Petersen, veteran guitar-slinger and grizzled balladeer, founder of Mischief Brew, captain of the ship at Fistola Records and an eternally enthusiastic dude, has passed away.

    The news has been swirling around social media for the past few hours, and was formallyreported by Punknews earlier this afternoon. Details are scarce, but it seems Petersen passed away last night. The band’s final performance took place on Friday, July 8th, at The Trocadero opening for his close compatriots and longtime favorites World / Inferno Friendship Society. Mischief Brew was scheduled to perform in the Lehigh Valley tonight at the Square of Opposition / Double Decker Records anniversary; we wouldn’t be surprised if some sort of impromptu tribute bubbles up.

    Beyond the whats and the whys and all that, Petersen’s passing is a major loss of a passionate and driven voice in our community. Onstage, he was sweaty and snarling, unhinged and intimidating, a guitar swinging from his shoulders and a jeff cap slipping from his head. As soon as he stepped offstage, he was brimming with cheer and that classic ear-to-ear Erik Petersen grin, quick with a handshake and a hug and a cup of coffee or a slug of whiskey (or both). He was community personified, he was a friend to all in the scene; to him, the scene was life, it was every aspect of his world since he was a teenager in the early 90s.

    Petersen founded the West Chester punk outfit The Orphans in 1994, and fast developed a rabid following in a fertile East Coast network of bands that also included Plow United and Weston. Their signature tune was “The Government Stole My Germs CD,” and you can totally hear that revved-up and defiant Darby Crash attitude in it (as well as their entire Raise the Youth LP).

    When The Orphans disbanded in 2000, Petersen dabbled in a more acoustic style of songwriting – more out of necessity than anything else. To paraphrase an interview he did with me in 2007, he had songs, he wanted to play them and it didn’t matter at that point if he had people to play with him or not.

    The punk troubadour thing, though, was something Petersen was really really freaking good at. Fueled by his own late-20s fascination with Billy Bragg and Woody Guthrie, and aided along by a listening public rediscovering Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska during the aughties, Mischief Brew took on a life of its own. Petersen quickly saw it as a means to be a musician in whatever setting best suited him. If it was easier to do a run of shows acoustic, he’d play acoustic; if the situation allowed for a band, he’d bring in collaborators like bassist Shawn St. Clair, his brother Christopher on drums, percussionist and multi-instrumentalist Chris “Doc” Kulp (Mischief Brew’s original drummer), or accordion player Franz Nicolay (of The Hold Steady and World / Inferno) and more.

    Their debut, Smash the Windows, was released in 2005, and was succeeded by Songs from Under the Sink in 2006, The Stone Operation in 2011 and This Is Not for Children in 2015. He also released collaborations, including the excellent Photographs from the Shoebox split with Joe Jack Talcum of Dead Milkmen in 2009, and later the same year, Fight Dirty with Guignol (Nicolay’s klezmer-rock project).

    With the exception of last year’s Children, all of these records came out on Petersen’s own Fistolo Records, the label he ran out of his DelCo home with his wife Denise Vertucci. He was DIY the the core, and when the time did come to work with another label, he went with the Alternative Tentacles – the like-minded California independent imprint run by Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedys.

    In a roundabout way, Petersen was a catalyst in the website you are looking at today. Many moons ago, my first role at WXPN was a volunteer host on the internet radio / HD stream called Y-Rock; one Sunday in 2007, my good friend Jake “Rabid” Nisenfeld asked me to fill in for him on the local show. Having recently discovered Mischief Brew, and knowing that Petersen was slated to play a gig that evening at West Philly’s LAVA Space, I emailed him asking if he’d like to swing by and play acoustic on the air before the show. He was quick to respond and happy to oblige.

    I recorded Petersen’s set and interview, and it was goddamn beautiful – to this day it one of my favorite recordings I’ve made here at WXPN. He opened with “Nomad’s Revolt,” an endlessly catchy and lyrically poignant song “for the aging punk rocker who needed an anthem.” I was a year shy of 30 at that point, and it totally rang true for me in every possible way. I excitedly played the track for Jake that week, and his reaction was the same. “We should do more of these,” he said. And so began the Philly music scene documentation undertaking that we now call The Key Studio Sessions; I absolutely love that this crazy project occupies such a major part of my own life, and I have Petersen to thank for that.

    Petersen and I kept in touch as the years unfolded. I caught him playing spitfire sets in places from Millcreek Tavern to The Barbary to Cedar Park (the photo at the top of the page). A few years down the road, XPN planned a tribute to Bruce Springsteen for his 60th birthday, and I was tasked with collecting covers from the music community. Petersen submitted a haunting take on “My Hometown,” the closing track on Born in the U.S.A. Below, you can listen to it, along with the acoustic “Nomad’s Revolt” and interview from that very first performance on XPN in April of 2007.

    The last time I saw Petersen was at PhilaMOCA last winter, and the memory is absolutely magic. It was the Eraserhood art space’s Video Music Festival, and as one of the curators, I invited Petersen to screen his new music video for “O, Pennsyltucky,” a brilliantly sardonic clip filmed in Centralia (aka that town that’s decimated by underground coal fire). The song is about the love-hate relationship we all have with the places we call home; the quirks and regressiveness and dunderheadedness that drives forward-thinking people absolutely up the wall, and the simultaneous way no other space in the world gives us the same sense of comfort. Again, Petersen’s lyrical craft was brilliantly on point – witty, observational and smart, he was one of the best storytellers and scene-setters in punk – and again, it rang tremendously true.

    Another one of the videos screening that night was “Where I’m From” by West Philly rapper The Bul Bey. That song, in it’s own beat-heavy summertime-jammy ear candy kinda way, is talking about the same exact issues – contrasting the downs and ups of the places we call home. After the event wrapped up, I caught Petersen and Bey talking shop afterwards — they totally noticed the parallels in one another’s songs before I did, and were nerding out about them. I quickly chatted with Erik; he was excited about releasing the new record on Alternative Tentacles, and plans to take it on the road in the subsequent year. Once again, he had that huge smile on his face. The lights came up and it was time to clear out; I extended my arm for a handshake, he went in for a bear hug. That’s the kind of guy Erik Petersen was.

    I think that last sentiment is true for many of us. Rest in power, Erik Petersen.
     
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  2. cantcureherpes

    cantcureherpes Completely Addicted
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    i read about this last night, and have a few friends who live in philly who were friends of his, they are keeping details pretty hush hush but he did suffer from horrible depression and apparently wasnt doing so hot mentally the past few days.
     
  3. landpirate

    landpirate C.U.N.T (campervan untilising nomadic traveller)
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    That's sad to hear, it can't be easy for those close to him. I always think it's difficult when someone in the public eye dies because people want to know what happened but in reality its a private thing and really none of our business. I was looking forward to seeing Mischief Brew play later this summer on their European tour :(
     
  4. cantcureherpes

    cantcureherpes Completely Addicted
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    yea they had it all planned out and everything from what ive gathered. i saw him a few years back and almost didnt go because im a grouch and dont goto shows much anymore, but im glad i did it was a hell of a show and he hung out after and drank beers at the bar with a few of us after last call.
     
  5. Matt Derrick

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    holy shit man, that's fucking nuts. i always just kind of take it for granted that most people around my age are just going to out-live me somehow, so i never really think this kind of stuff will ever happen. i guess i've just always pictured him old as shit still rocking out.

    the first time i saw erik was at a basement show in philadelphia back in late 2001 (maybe 2002? my memory is hazy of those days) and i distinctly remember looking around and wondering why this basement so goddamn crowded, and this guy (erik) started playing a song, and the place just fucking exploded. i think most people knew the song already, but it was the first time i'd heard of this guy and it definitely left an impression on me.

    when i moved to baltimore i saw him play a bunch of time over the years, at the jerk store and wyman park i think? anyways, after i left baltimore i never really made much of an effort to see him play after that, i always just took for granted that i'd have another opportunity down the line :/
     
  6. WanderLost Radical

    WanderLost Radical Sir Posts a Lot

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    Saw him 2 years ago in Montreal. Really down to earth guy. The scene suffers a lot from this loss :(
     
  7. iflewoverthecuckoosnest

    iflewoverthecuckoosnest Celebrated Poster

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    Still so bummed about this. The spirit of Erik's music lives on in us all.
    Rock in peace, Erik.
    To the witches, to the goblins, and the trolls!
     
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  8. crow

    crow Celebrated Poster

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    And i missed his last show here...well cheers brother. Youre strumming and yelling with angels now where nothing is fake. Much love
     
  9. Coywolf

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    This sucks! I JUST started listening to Mischeif Brew. :(