Peter Parcek was born in New Britain, Connecticut. After graduating from high school Parcek relocated to London where the aspiring guitarist developed an appreciation for British Blues, especially the music of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Peter Green. Once back in Connecticut Parcek began to appreciate American blues artists Skip James, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Albert King, Albert Collins and Jimi Hendrix. Buddy Guy once told him “You’re as bad as Eric Clapton, and I know Eric Clapton”. He began to seriously develop as a musician after moving to Boston and plays guitar on Pinetop Perkins’ 1992 album “On Top”, alongside Jerry Portnoy, Ron Levy, and Michael “Mudcat” Ward. This lead to Parcek touring with Perkins as his bandleader. Parcek’s guitar influences also include rock, surf, gypsy-jazz and country.
In 2010 Parcek released his first nationally distributed album “The Mathematics of Love” and received a Blues Music Award nomination for Best New Artist Debut. In 2017 he followed up with the widely acclaimed “Everybody Wants to Go To Heaven”. “Mississippi Suitcase” is Parcek’s third studio album and while he embraces the traditions inherent in the blues he also stretches its boundaries. “In recent years I’ve suffered an injury to my wrist and faced never playing again, and…at the same time, the world has been in turmoil…all of that compelled me to reach deeply within myself as I could, to write…themes that are…at times apocalyptic, and to frame the songs I crafted and selected, with arrangements…that helped breathe life into them.”
The core band includes Parcek, guitar and vocals; Tom West, keyboards; Marc Hickox, bass; and Tim Carman, drums. The album is co-produced by Parcek and the Grammy winning Ducky Carlisle. Featured are originals mixed with classics from the blues songbook each featuring the tone and texture of Parcek’s exemplary virtuosity.
Parcek opens with the first of three originals. “The World Is Upside Down” is a topical tune torn from today’s headlines and features his chaotic lyrics, slide guitar and Hendrix inspired solo. On the funky title track, “Mississippi Suitcase”, Parcek sings of a broken heart while dueling with organist West. “A Head Full of Ghosts” is an evocative mind blowing instrumental.
Each of the selected classics is broken down by guitarist Parcek and soulfully re-structured. On Bob Dylan and Robert Hunter’s “Beyond Here Lies Nothin”, Parcek’s guitar paints colors. Parcek notes that Peter Green’s “The Supernatural” is an instrumental he has longed to cover as he uses feedback to stretch each note. On Lou Reed’s “Waiting For the Man” Parcek is joined by keyboardist Spooner Oldham and upright bassist Dennis Crouch.
New Orleans street singer Pleasant Joseph a.k.a. Cousin Joe recorded with Sidney Bechet n the 1940’s; and Gatemouth Brown in 1970’s. His song “Life Is A One Way Ticket” was revived when recorded by Dr. John in 2004. On Parcek’s version he trades guitar licks with Luther Dickinson on a fabulous production that also includes harmonica ace Mickey Raphael, bassist Dominic John Davis, and percussionist Marco Giovino.
Also included are Parcek’s fabulous instrumental mock-up of Lennon and McCartney’s “Eleanor Rigby”; Sleepy John Estes “Everybody Oughta Make A Change Sometime”; an instrumental version of Frankie Lee Sims’ “She Likes To Boogie Real Low”; and John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson’s “Until My Love Come Down”.
Each of Parcek’s totally unique interpretations display his rare vision of where melody and improvisation meet. This deeply moving album should bring guitarist Parcek the recognition he deserves.