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Malick returns with Luxury Wafers crew

Posted by Scott McLennan  July 18, 2013 04:51 PM

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Peter and Butch.jpg
Peter Malick, left, seen here with drummer Butch Norton, is the voice of experience at Luxury Wafers, a record label promoting new talent and independent-minded music.

The last time that guitarist Peter Malick played in the Boston area, the Brookline native was at the original House of Blues in Harvard Square introducing a bright, young, and then-unknown talent by the name of Norah Jones to his audience.

Malick, who for several years has lived in Southern California, is hoping to bring his old hometown crowd ahead of the curve once again as he presents Courtney Jones (no relation to Norah) and Spencer Livingston in concerts Sunday at the Wonder Bar in Allston and Monday at Club Passim in Cambridge. Malick and drummer Butch Norton plus bassist Jon Ossman are also part of the package tour traveling around New England and New York this month.

Jones and Livingston just released albums on the Luxury Wafers record label that Malick started with his wife, Landry. The music-minded couple launched the label after Peter's last recording studio was taken by eminent domain to make way for a new school in Los Angeles. Malick and his wife first started recording and videoing musicians who they enjoyed, using their home studio and posting the performances on a blog, which evolved into the Luxury Wafers record label.

"I like writing songs, playing guitar, and producing records, so this has been an education," says Malick, who got his start in the late 1960s playing guitar in a band with Willie Alexander. "It's been grateful, the response this has been getting."

Malick was a teen when he started playing a revived "Bosstown sound" brand of rock, then gravitated toward the blues. He became a member of John Lee Hooker's East Coast band and played guitar in the original James Montgomery Band when it signed to Capricorn Records. Fast forward to the '90s, and Malick was leading his own band and doing production work. In 2000, Malick moved to New York City and met Norah Jones, whom joined his group and appears on the album "New York City."

The reputation Malick earned for ushering Jones along attracted singer Courtney Jones to him.

C. Jones says that she and Malick wrote a song every day in preparing her album "All the Things That Fall."

"I took a collection of songs that made sense as a gut feeling," Jones says of piecing together her new album.

She credits Malick for shaking up the piano-driven sound of the debut record she put out two years ago, resulting in an album that builds on that base with a fuller sonic spectrum.

"Peter would play chord on guitar or a loop on the computer that I'd like, and I'd say, 'Wait!' and start working off of that. It was like you see on the detective shows when someone is cracking a safe and turning the dial until they hear a click," she says.

"All the Things That Fall" is an assured set of songs that offers up crisp observations with a smooth delivery. Songs span the allegorical "Cathedral" to the wry "Afterthought."

"I'm not heavy-handed. That's not my personality," she says. "If you want to listen to this album in the background, you can, and it will sound good. But if you want to dig deeper, there are layers to uncover."
courtney jones.jpg
Courtney Jones

Saying that her music has sometimes been called too pop for a songwriter's project and too songwriter-y for a pop project, Jones is a perfect candidate for Luxury Wafers' independent spirit.

Jones' record came out on July 16, the same day Luxury Wafers released Spencer Livingston's "Grow," which is heavier on the twang and roots rock by comparison. The label also recently put out Malick and drummer Butch Norton's experimental instrumental album "Duets From the Spin Dry Cycle."

Jones, Livingston and Malick had a few joint songwriting sessions to suss out their compatibility as tour mates. Happy with the results, the Luxury Wafers road show will be at the Wonder Bar, 186 Harvard Ave., Allston on Sunday, July 21. Music starts around 8 p.m. Then the Luxury Wafers crew crosses the river for a show at 8 p.m. Monday the 22nd at Club Passim, 47 Palmer St., Cambridge.

"We're breaking the old model," says Malick. "There are more opportunities, though less money. That separates out the people who got into it to balance a spreadsheet."


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About the author

Scott McLennan is a Boston Globe music correspondent and previously wrote a music and entertainment column for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette for 15 years. After seeing the band Boston in the Boston Garden as a teenager he never looked back and eventually figured out how to be a professional fan. Scott is very good at writing in the dark. This blog is an ongoing discussion about music happening in and around Boston. Scott will be leading the trek across genres looking for new releases and hot shows as well as just checking in with the people who make Boston such a great place to listen. More »
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