Peter Calo BTD Artist Interview
Written by Matt Zin on March 17, 2021
Hey there Peter Calo, I am excited to interview you. I have plenty of questions to ask you, I hope you are ready!
You have a discography that is a mile long, you have been busy! But before we get into all that stuff, let’s learn about who Peter Calo is.
First where are you from?
I was born in Tofield, Alberta up in Canada and lived there till my teens when we packed up and moved to Boston where I started making music.
Who are your musical influences?
There are so many. I go through periods where someone has a big effect on me. First the British invasion bands then I moved on to classical guitar, Julian Bream, was a favorite. Then in high school I got into funk. This was when Sly was making great music. Early Kool and the Gang, James Brown.
I got into a blues band and really got into Peter Green, Robben Ford, Buddy Guy and the Allman Brothers. From there I got into the Jazz-rock bands. Al Holdsworth, John Mclaughlin, Pat Matheny, etc. Then I got back into pop with The Police. From there world beat. King Sunny Ade. Ju Ju Music etc. More recently I love singer Song writers. I’m into a good lyric. Now a days I listen to really anything and everything. Honky tonk country to avante garde Jazz. What can I say I love music.
I see you are a guitarist and a producer. I want to break this part down a bit. So here goes… guitarist… when did you start playing the guitar? Do you remember the first song you ever played and can you still play it today? What are your favorite licks to play, lead, power chords, etc… do you make your own stuff up as you go?
I started playing the guitar in high school. Ha, the first song. Well, it was the bass riff from “Midnight hour.” My brother Rick showed it to me and yes, I can still play it. J)) My favorite licks are funky licks on an acoustic guitar. But when you strap on a Les Paul and you crank it well, that’s heaven as well.
Funking out is a lot of fun. Having a good band that can take a jam places is incredible.
How would you best describe your guitar playing?
It gets me there, mostly. Ha…I’ve stepped on it a few times. That keeps you honest. But if I had to describe myself. I’m versatile. A Jack of all trades. That’s why I love doing session work.
Ok, now let’s talk about the producer side of you, when did you start producing and what inspired you to do so? Producing just evolved from folks asking me to help them record their songs. The more you do it the more you can see the big picture and hopefully help an artist find their voice and with some luck and work you can enhance what the artist is about.
I would like to talk about your album, “Time Machine.” You have eight great songs on this album, I like them all. Are you also the singer on this album? Your sound is sexy, especially in the song “Do I Love You Too Much”, your emotions really come out in this song. Can you tell us more details about this song?
Thank you. Yes I’m the singer. I’m glad you like the recording. It was recorded at home. The hardest part was the vocals. You never know when your own vocals are done. The song “Do I Love You Too Much? just came out one day on my back porch. I love those Rhumba grooves. Also it’s got the tempo change which folks seem to like. Having Jerry Marotta on drums and Pete Donovan on bass doesn’t hurt.
Which song is your most favorite on this album and why? Well, My favorite is probably “Sail Away”
I wrote that one Christmas eve with my wife, Marianne. I recorded it at Star Hatchery Studio outside Chicago. My friend John Hegner has a great studio. I said that “Time Machine” was recorded at my place. All but “Sail Away.” The story is I was on the road with, I think with Linda Eder and I stayed over Johns. He said lets’ record one of your songs. I said I had one song that had to be recorded with me singing and playing together, a performance, and that song was “Sail Away” We had been partying the night before and so I was a bit rough the next morning but when we went to record some how I pulled it together for one take and John said, “Man you did it.” Then he added a back ground harmony and an accordion. It got some nice airplay in Canada. It’s just guitar voice and accordion.
Did you produce this album? Yes I did. John Hegner from Starbell Hatchery Studio mixed it and Scott Hull from Masterdisk mastered it.
I see you have played guitar for one of the greatest female artists around, Carly Simon. That was for the “Touched By The Sun” 1995 album, right? That’s amazing. How did all that come about? Tell us about some of your experiences working with her. Do you still keep in touch with Carly?
The Album that the song “Touched By The sun” is on is actually called “Letters Never Sent.” It’s a very powerful song. It was the first song she taught me for that album. Which was the first record I recorded with Carly. I’ve recorded on 5 or 6 with her.
I first met Carly the summer of 1994 and by the winter of 1995 we were recording “Letters Never Sent.” I’ve been performing with her ever since. I have always enjoyed working with Carly. She’s very creative and giving as well. I’ve done many live shows with Carly. Many studio albums, TV and even some song writing. The 2010 release “This Kind of Love” I was the musical director with Jimmy Webb producing. That was a wonderful project. I do keep in touch with Carly. We e mail and send Christmas cards and in fact I just did a live stream with my friend, vocalist, Anne Carpenter. We did a set of Carly’s music. It was amazing fun to revisit the catalogue. Carly can’t wait to see the concert. We will be doing it again May 1 20121 at the Mohonk Mountain House in upstate NY
The buck doesn’t stop there, you also played guitar on Jon Cobert’s album “he had a hat” and composed music for the movie “Extra Innings.” I know there’s more but I welcome our listeners to go check out the rest at www.petercalo.com . You are in demand! When all these leads started coming your way, how did it feel? Take us back to the beginning of those feelings that you had back then.
Out of all your musical experiences, which ones are the most rememberable and why?
It is to hard to say which is the most remarkable musical experience because each gig, each session, each production has a life of it’s own. All the different people, vibes, situations. I just love making music with all the different people I know. Some artists are more well known than others. It doesn’t matter. There is so much talent and friendships. I cherish them all. That being said.
Some highlights that just come to mind would be were playing in Danny Seraphines’ Bad Ass big band with Will Lee on bass and singing some of those classic Chicago songs that I love, Playing with one of my guitar heros’ Robben Ford upstairs at Ryles back in the 80’s, performing as a featured vocalist in the Bernstein Mass with Maestro Bernstein coming on stage to give me a hug, playing Carnegie hall and trading licks with Johnny Winter and Eric Burdon, Playing a gig with Carly Simon and teaching Tom Jones the backing harmony to “You’re so Vain” and then going on Stage and trading licks with Joe Perry. Playing at a reunion show where Carly and James Taylor united a for a concert, meeting and playing with Don Grolnick. It turned out to be his last gig. I guess I could go on. Those are some memories that come to mind.
How has COVID changed the way you do music? Well on one day (March 12. 2020) lots off gigs got cancelled “Postponed” and then as the calendar progressed gigs just kept getting cancelled. So now we Live Stream and in the warmer weather some outdoor gigs. I teach more. Mostly on zoom. I really love my students. We are friends and I love watching them get better. I also do a bit of production work. I produce artists and also folks send me tracks to put guitar or mandolin or sing or lap steel of wherever.
Where can our listeners buy your music?
The usual suspects. Apple, Amazon, CD baby. Actually, CDs can be bought at Amazon, CDbaby or my website and most of my stuff is on Spotify. There are also some nice videos’ up on YouTube.
Also folks can visit www.petercalo.com for news, upcoming events or if they want to write me and get on my mailing list.
Well we are at a close of this wonderful interview, I have learned so much about you and your musical experiences. Have I left anything out that you would like to talk about?
It’s been a pleasure!
~ T Dawn