PETE SCHMIDT: A MAN ON A MISSION
It seems everywhere you turn in southern Ontario the tasty flowing guitar work of Peter Schmidt is being heard. He's the choice guitarist for bands such as Dave Rotundo and the Blue Canadians, Dr. Nick and the Rollercoasters, Little Bobby and the Jumpstarts, Mark Stafford, and Derrick Peart.
Pete is the perfect sideman; his principal responsibility is to make the leader shine. His contributions are always concise, swinging, and right "on the mark". As an adherent of the "less-is-more" approach, quality always trumps quantity so Schmidt never lowers his standards to include any of those note-hogging excursions that obsess so many of today's so-called blues guitarists. Being effective is all about teamwork, getting totally locked into the groove, and then letting it all just happen.
I'm partial to Pete, not merely due to his stylistic gifts, but also because he's totally upfront on his likes and dislikes. Too many musicians sit on the sidelines, pretend to like it all, and never bother separating the wheat from the chaff. Not so Pete. Beneath his self-effacing demeanor lies an astute and accurate observer of what's happening on the music scene. He's one of the few musicians I constantly probe for insight and analysis.
For Schmidt, a steady stream of gigs is just the beginning. Music is his obsession, and in one-way or another, it absorbs his every waking hour. An inveterate collector, he's amassed about 4,000 vinyl LPs, many of rare vintage. Even though circumstances in the form of an internet-based mail order record business (www.peteschmidt.com) necessitate a significant rock and pop catalogue, it's those jazz and blues titles from the 50's and 60's that tickle Pete's fancy. The entire blues panorama is dear to him, yet a special spot is reserved for the pioneers who crossed the path where blues, jazz, and soul meet.
Bill Doggett, Grant Green, The Meters, Freddy Robinson, Jimmy Smith, and Wes Montgomery, are a sampling of the icons that Peter swears by. Tally it up to their grasp of swing, dynamics, and sophistication, all combined with a bluesy feel. This is listening that reaches irresistible heights, a swirling tapestry of groove music at its most satisfying.
The legendary T-Bone Walker deserves mention as the launching pad for the polished guitar style that Pete emulates. While T-Bone is Pete's abiding influence, his indebtedness is also traceable to the likes of Pee Wee Crayton, Tiny Grimes, Mickey Baker, Roy Gaines, Lowell Fulson, Albert King, Gatemouth Brown, B.B. King, and Billy Butler.
The next few weeks month should see the completion of a CD with a simple concept: Pete Schmidt--consummate sideman--recording in the studio with various frontmen/vocalists. It will feature original material, including several instrumentals. Pete will be looking for that "vintage" 1950's Chicago and jump blues/swing sound. But also expect a lot of surprises.
You see Pete Schmidt is a man a mission. He's a sound purist, a lover of tradition, and someone who craves that basic, "off-the-floor" feel. He simply refuses to tolerate anything else. I can barely wait to hear the results!
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