Burning It Up At The Bottom Line | WGLT

Burning It Up At The Bottom Line

Mar 28, 2016

Credit Jean-Luc Bouchier

The latest album from Blues/Roots Rocker Peter Karp titled "The Arson's Match" is actually an over decade ago live date with former Rolling Stones member Mick Taylor.  In this Skype conversation with WGLT's Jon Norton, Karp details how he and Taylor met, and how as a teenager, he coincidentally found his calling at the "The Bottom Line," the same famous New York City nightclub where he recorded his new album shortly before the venue closed in 2004.

"I guess one of the most famous shows that happened there was a Springsteen show in the 70's, where he burst onto the scene.  The big club held about 800 people."  

Karp says he met Taylor through a DJ friend of his and hit it off almost immediately.  They recorded a studio album and a number of shows together, including a recorded gig at The Bottom Line.   However, Karp says a recording of that show wasn't released at the time because the masters got lost.  

"I had a copy of it, but I never knew what to do with it, cause after I was done with it I was on to new things.  I got a record deal with Blind Pig, and I started doing a little more of what I was doing and where I was going. "

5 years later Karp's wife of 25 years got sick and eventually died of ovarian cancer.  He says it was only until recently that he began to deal with her loss. And it was about that time the master to The Bottom Line show with Taylor reappeared.

"It didn't make any sense to me to release them as a new record, but it's stuff I still perform and I'm very fond of the songs."

He says he comes from a different place than most traditional blues songwriters.

"I come more from the world of novelists, like Dylan and Van Morrison.  But I also like boogie-woogie and dance music, so I like to mix the two together."

Karp does say his interest in slide guitar comes from a blues great.

"The two biggest influence as songwriter and musician is Bob Dylan and Elmore James.  Elmore James to me is the essential, raw, emotional blues.  Basically he's playing two strings with a slide and it's just pure emotion."

He says Duane Allman was also a key influence.

"As a kid he kinda turned me on to slide. That's what sorta made me go back to Elmore James.  I heard James when I was a kid in a trailer court in Alabama. My Dad was in the service.  I heard him on one of those stations at the end of the dial on my AM radio." 

Karp said he knew early on music was going to be a big part of his life. 

"The first time I heard Elmore James, Bob Dylan, Otis Redding, T-Bone Walker, I got chills up my spine.  And I'll tell you one thing.  I was 16 when I saw Bruce Springsteen and I saw him at the bottom line. And it's funny that it's coming back to this because I never thought of this.  I had a girlfriend at the time that got me to go to the Springsteen show.  It was at the Bottom Line.  And when we got there it was a long line. And this is before he was really known.  I was about to leave, and another woman turned to me and said 'if you leave, you'll regret this for the rest of your life.'   So I stayed.  And I was the last person into the club, and they put me front and center.  I was 3 feet from Springsteen.  It was everything I'd heard my whole life that I love, from Albert Collins, to Dylan, to Van Morrison, and then he's singing about my life in New Jersey.  He's singing about every little piece.  I went home and was in a coma for four days.  I could not get out of bed.  And it all coalesced for me there.  I said 'I get what all this means.' This is important to be able to express myself, it's important to connect to people.  I understand what my mission in life is."