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Peter Parcek plays the blues and a lot more

The legendary local guitarist returns to the Burren on June 18.

Timing, a little bit of luck, a lot of talent, and endless hours of hard work have gone into making Peter Parcek the guitarist he is today. When the Melrose resident returns to one of his local stomping grounds — the Burren — on June 18, he’ll undoubtedly be introduced as a bluesman. An apt designation, for sure, as he’s been steeped in traditional and contemporary blues for decades. But as his followers know, his music is made up of a lot more than just blues.

When he hits a stage, most often accompanied by either a Stratocaster or a Telecaster, Parcek could launch into all sorts of genres. An astute critic once wrote that Parcek “weaves rock, gypsy-jazz, country, folk, and blues.” It’s hard to wrap one’s head around the fact that the same guy is playing the guitar parts on a fiery cover of Peter Green’s “The Supernatural” (on Parcek’s album “Mississippi Suitcase”), the chiming and poppy “Find You” by Dragonfly and, during the end credits of the John Sayles film “Honeydripper,” the ripping-bluesy “Music Keeps Rollin’ On.”


It all goes back to that timing business. As a teenager in Connecticut, Parcek listened to his older sister’s Elvis and folk records, but he also tended to stay in his room, laser-focused on a radio with a powerful antenna that picked up distant stations playing the blues of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. He bought those albums, convinced his mom to get him a cheap nylon string guitar, graduated to a Harmony electric, moved to London and – more timing – found himself in the midst of the British blues explosion (though he played harmonica, rather than guitar at that point).

It wasn’t until he returned to the States, moved to Boston, played in the band Nine Below Zero, then — finding himself in the right place at the right time, and landing a gig in the studio and on the road with blues pianist Pinetop Perkins — that he got serious about playing the guitar.

Or, as he said in an interview a couple of years ago, “I wondered what I could be if I stopped being just a guitar owner, and became a player. Especially if you’re self-taught, it’s a huge mountain to climb. It’s an easy instrument to be mediocre on, but is a difficult instrument to be really good on.”


Parcek is really good on it, and he’s still getting better.

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