No slowing down for Peter White

Published on March 22nd, 2021

By Jim Dail

Famed guitarist Peter White has no plans to slow down, which is good considering his constant successful albums and singles, sold out shows all over the world and an adoring fan base.

“Someone once asked me if I would do this if I wasn’t being paid,” he said. “What answer could I give? I thought of one: If I wasn’t being paid, I wouldn’t be there because I’d be working at the 7-11!”

Well, White’s current line of work has brought joy to untold thousands of people, and he’s back in Temecula on Saturday as part of West Coast Jam with Richard Elliot and DW2 at Thornton Winery as part of the 2019 Champagne Jazz Concert Series.

White has been in the business for decades, starting out with Al Stewart and writing and playing on numerous songs, including “Time Passages.” By 1990, he was off on his own solo career and it has been a fantastic success.

“I’ve been asked if I was considering retiring,” he said. “What does that even mean? Let me help you. When you retire, you stop doing the things you don’t want to do and start doing the stuff you want to do. I just turned 65, and if I wanted to I could retire today. I am very proud to survive this long and get on Medicare! I do all the gigs I want to do, and I am extremely lucky to do what I want to do.”

There is no doubt he is doing what he wants to do and enjoying it.

“My wife tells me what to do, and she is the only one,” he laughs.

It is all about the music.

“What it comes down to is I want to play music,” he said. “I don’t care about politics, awards and what I should and should not do. I want to write music and play music.”

It’s about creating a good sound, good music and connecting with people. That includes developing his craft in the studio and on stage.

“The last 20 years I have been playing guitars made by my friend Paul McGill in Nashville,” he said. “He said he had a nylon string guitar that resists feedback, and he sent it to me. It’s great. No one had ever sent me a guitar!”

White had been after an acoustic guitar that wouldn’t create feedback on stage.

“An acoustic guitar on stage can be very problematic,” he said. “It is an extremely quiet instrument, and when you plug in an acoustic it will pick up every part of the song, especially the monitor, and it amplifies itself and causes feedback.”

He tried a lot of different tricks.

“I used to stuff T-shirts in the sound box of the guitar,” he said. “It’s the box that creates the sound and if you stuff it with T-shirts, it makes it more of an electric guitar.”

That all changed with the new guitar.

“It’s wonderful because all the sound I don’t want gets canceled out before it hits all the electronics,” he said. “I could not believe how good it sounds playing with a live band. I’m in front of a band picking one string on a guitar. With an electric you can tune it up as much as you like but with the acoustic you play a note and it’s gone. With this guitar, I am able to get the sound I want.”

Musicians get inspired by a great deal around them, and of late, with White, it’s an airline.

“It’s been three years since I’ve released and album, so it’s about time,” he said. “I was approached by a guy in Taiwan about a project and I at first thought it was a time-wasting thing. He said he was with Universal Music there and represented an airline. They wanted music that could be played before and after getting on the airplane. I thought it was interesting.”

It was STARLUX Airlines, and not only did he create the music for them, but he created an album.

“Originally, they said they would own the music and I couldn’t release it, but then they liked it and said it was cool so the end result is Music for STARLUX Airlines,” he said. “If you knew anything about the album you would think it’s just another Peter white album. I’ve removed anything that’s not happy or uplifting. I’ve sometimes released songs that had an edge or were melancholy. The airline wanted peaceful music with one stipulation: No sax.”

Another thing that was different was simply the length of the songs.

“Every song had to be 7 minutes, so I did 7 songs and that’s a full album,” he said. “They wanted straight ahead music like “Are You Mine” [from White’s Confidential album]. But that’s Mindi Abair playing sax on the song! They said no sax! So, I just featured a synthesizer as an alternate melody and sound. It was a fun project.”

That’s not all.

“When I was doing that project, I already had started a new album that’s more than 50 percent done,” he said. “People ask me when’s the next album coming out, and I feel I owe it to the fans. I do it for them.”

He is very connected to the fans as well.

“I want to see the people who come out to shows and talk to them,” he said. “Some artists hide behind a fortress, but I like to say hi and meet them. To me, if someone takes the trouble to leave their home and brave the freeways and come to the show, it’s my reward to meet them.”


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