Order of Persephone (Mobile Press Register)

The third stop in Friday night’s four-part adventure came at the Daphne Civic Center, where the Mystic Order of Persephone was in full swing. The theme was “Happy Hour with MOOP,” and everyone was bought into the philosophy from the get-go. All were surrounded by massive cocktail cutouts while the tables were overflowing with towering bottles as centerpieces.
Queen Karen made her entrance pulling a white-and-silver train emblazoned with an aqua fleur-de-lis. Before long, she and Emblem Carrie joined the band Peek onstage looking to out-cowbell the insatiable Christopher Walken himself during its rendition of “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”
Mellow Moon Pies were eagerly accepted by two energetic young women on the dance floor who displayed admirable flexibility and slapped derrieres – their own, and those of their fellow revelers -- with abandon. The Observer found it easy to keep his cheeky thoughts at mid-waist, especially as he noted the most devoted Peek fans on the premises had plastered “Party ‘Til You Peek” bumper sticks across their thinly wrapped fannies.
Awards went out to the bumper stickers, as well as the bumpers.

Mobile's Peek ready to unveil long-awaited se

By Lawrence F. Specker
November 05, 2009, 11:53AM

For supporters of Mobile rock band Peek, the long wait for the group’s second album comes to an end early next week. The band will formally unveil “Neighbors, Lovers, and Others” at a WZEW-FM 92.1 “Second Tuesday” session at the BlueGill Restaurant on the Causeway.

It’s a setting that allows for an appropriately festive atmosphere, with listeners on hand as the night’s first set is broadcast live starting at 7 p.m.

“It seemed like the perfect opportunity,” rhythm guitarist Chris Powell said of the occasion, which will be Peek’s third or fourth “Second Tuesday” show.

To say it’ll be a milestone in the group’s career is putting it mildly. Peek has been together for seven years and released its debut, “Safe Harbor,” in 2003. It’s kept the same lineup throughout: Powell, bassist Andy Cobb, lead guitarist Timmy Dennis and drummer John Hamilton IV, with everybody singing.

That’s a long time. Powell and Hamilton note that in the liner notes to “Safe Harbor,” Peek members thanked about 15 other local bands — almost all of which have called it quits in the interim.

During that time span, Peek has regularly ranked at or near the top of reader surveys in local publications including Mobile Bay Monthly and Lagniappe. The group’s strengths have been its reputation for upbeat, good-time energy and its unpretentious, guys-next-door look and style.

But to be honest, that reputation has also been limiting. The band has been best-known for cover shows, and the song that’s gotten the most local airplay, “She Dances,” reinforces the party-band image.

To folks suckered by that image, “Neighbors, Lovers, and Others” might come as a bit of a surprise. There’s no shortage of fun songs, but others convey a distinct moodiness. In fact, some of the album’s most rewarding songs are also its most serious.

Take “Escape From Whore Island” — granted, the flippant title is the result of some studio joking-around and really has nothing to do with the subject matter.

Powell downplays it as sort of a childish tune, with a narrator who’s mindset is, “You hurt my feelings, so I’m just going to be ugly.”

True enough, the words are petulant. The narrator knows he’s being childish because he’s hurt. But the fact that he really is hurt also comes through. It’s a neat piece of writing. The same goes for “What Are You Doing Next Door?” the lament of a man smart enough to see serious problems with the relationship he’s in, but too weak to get out.

This all shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise. Go back and listen to “Safe Harbor.” It’s not all “She Dances.” There’s deeper, more adult stuff on tracks like “Everywhere.”

Those who value Peek as a source of fun music need not worry, however. New tunes such as “It’s the Best Thing,” “Trains Go Bye” and “San Francisco” guarantee the sing-alongs haven’t ended. (The last tune is an especially interesting addition to the canon of Songs About Mobile: Its protagonist, pleading for a woman to stick around rather than answering California’s call, argues “San Francisco/ baby what’s the difference/ You know we’ve got bays and bridges right here.”)

Peek’s first album was self-produced. This one was recorded in New Orleans. It was produced by Tom Drummond, bassist for Better Than Ezra.

“We did learn a lot on this CD about how we write,” said Powell, giving a lot of the credit to Drummond.

“He had a good ear for what should go and what should stay,” Powell said. “That was one big reason why we wanted someone else to produce.”

“We didn’t want someone to just press ‘record’,” Hamilton said.

“Tom was really good at kicking us in the butt when we needed it, and babying us when we needed it,” Powell said.

Powell said the recording process, with its focus on original music, reinvigorated himself and the band in general. But you won’t hear him saying anything bad about the cover-intensive club shows, weddings and private parties the band has done over the years.

Put simply, those paid the way for “Neighbors, Lovers, and Others.”

“The only way we could afford it was going out playing weddings and corporate parties,” Hamilton said.

“We couldn’t have done it otherwise,” said Powell.

As of Tuesday, the new disc will be available at Peek’s shows. Soon it should be for sale at www.cdbaby.com. Fans can keep an eye on www.peeksite.com for announcements of other retail outlets.

As for where the project takes them, members are hopeful. Because its members have day jobs, Peek’s touring range has been constrained. They’d love to win a spot opening a tour for a well-known regional or national act, Hamilton said, and reach some new listeners.

They’re resigned to the fact that original shows aren’t as lucrative as the crowd-pleasing cover gigs, but now that they’ve got the new music, they’re eager to get it out there. And they’re happy with what they have to show. 

“As far as original music goes, that’s what we are,” Powell said of the album. “We like pop music. As far as what we write, hopefully it’s honest.”


Peek Releases New CD at the Blue Gill

By Steve Centanni

Issue #190
November 03, 2009

With the release of their 2003 debut “Safe Harbor,” Peek became an instant favorite in the Port City with their even-tempered original rock. Their sound has earned them a legion of dedicated fans and almost as many Nappie Awards for “Best Local Band.”

As the years went by, Chris Powell (Rhythm Guitar/Vocals), Timmy Dennis (Lead Guitar/Vocals), Andy Cobb (Bass/Vocals) and John Hamilton, IV (Drums/Vocals) played countless gigs at countless area watering holes. All the while, their fans have been waiting patiently for their sophomore effort and wondering what the future held for this band.

Band: 92 Zew’s Second Tuesday feat. Peek’s CD Release Party Date: Tues., Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. Venue: The Blue Gill Waterfront Amphitheater, 3775 Battleship Pkwy, www.bluegillrestaurant.com Tickets: Free
But now, after six years, the waiting and the mystery is over, as Peek will share their latest release “Neighbors, Lovers and Others” at the Blue Gill on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

According to Hamilton, Peek always had plans for another album.

With a guiding hand from manager Bobby Gregory, they decided to set their goals high with the creation of this effort. They realized that it takes money in order to create a quality album. So with each gig, they began to put away a portion of money.

“Before we knew it, we had $5,000 saved up,” Hamilton said. “We were like, ‘Wow! If we can save $5,000, we can save $10,000. What’s the best quality CD we could make for $10,000 or $15,000?’ It opened up a whole new doorway to us.”

The members of Peek began weighing their options concerning the album’s production. They spent time reviewing albums from their favorite artists and finally decided on procuring the services of Fudge Recording Studio in New Orleans.

Fudge Recording Studio is Better Than Ezra’s personal studio (now open to the public) and helmed by the band’s bassist/background vocalist Tom Drummond.

They explained to Drummond that they wanted something more than just a studio that would produce a quality recording – that was something they could accomplish in Mobile. They also wanted help with the arrangement of each song. Drummond and his staff met their needs and rearranged eight out of the 10 songs recorded for this release, according to Hamilton.

“We would play the songs to Tom, and it was Tom and Jacques deLatour (studio engineer) and us,” Hamilton said. “There were six of us in the room. We would play the songs, and Tom would listen to it once or twice. He would say, ‘I love the ending. Let’s put the ending at the beginning.’ We were like, ‘OK.’ Then he would be like, ‘We need to move the guitar solo over here and the bridge over here.’”

“Neighbors, Lovers, and Others” quite literally has songs based on neighbors, friends and “others.” Based on the content, the title may have seemed like an obvious choice, but Peek found it difficult to come up with a name for this album. So, they went to their fans for help.

At several shows, they put a jar on the stage with a piece of paper that simply said, “Name the album.” They came across a slip of paper with “Neighbors, Friends, and Others” on it, and the album was named. However, Hamilton claimed that they have since lost the slip of paper and have no idea which one of their fans came up with the name.

Peek’s latest effort is considered by the band to be more of a collaborative work than “Safe Harbor.” This process began with each member bringing songs they were working on to each rehearsal. Some of these songs would be near completion and require a few finishing touches such as a bridge or a final verse. Other songs might have been completed lyrically but need to be set to music.

“It was a pretty good group effort, a lot more than the last one,” Hamilton said. “Maybe there was one or two out of the 10 that were not a group effort. For the most part, everybody sat and wrote music and lyrics.”

This group collaboration in the songwriting process definitely had an effect on the finished product but they are still very personal songs.

Dennis was inspired by his wife Ashley for his contribution (“It’s the Best Thing”). The song “San Francisco” was Powell’s contribution and tells of a time he tried to convince a girl that she should not move to San Francisco, because Mobile has some of the same features. Hamilton conjured memories from his childhood to compose the sixth track “Strawberry Blondes.”

“When I was a kid, one of the earliest memories I have of playing drums was that I had a little toy drum set, and my mom would sing that song, ‘As Casey would waltz with the strawberry blonde, and the band played on,’” Hamilton said. “She would sing that, and I would play a waltz. I was probably 6-years-old, and she was teaching me how to play a waltz. She would sing ‘And the Band Played On.’ People listen to the song, and they’re like, ‘I didn’t know your mom was a strawberry blonde.’ So, that song is very personal to me.”

For their release party, Peek will treat their audience to the entirety of “Neighbors, Lovers, and Others,” as well as several favorites from “Safe Harbor.”

Hamilton said that they also plan on promoting their latest work at original venues around the Port City such as Callaghan’s, Alabama Music Box and Serda’s Coffee Company. In addition to local promotion, Peek has made it a goal to travel each month to cities such as Atlanta, New Orleans and Nashville.

“Neighbors, Lovers and Others” will be available for purchase at the Bluegill for $15.