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♦ Peter Hall ♦
♦ Acoustic Guitar Music • San Diego, Ca. ♦

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Hall set to launch CD-release party for 'Schwagtown' at The Harp
By Bart Mendoza

The lure of San Diego's pop culture to musicians may seem like a recent trend, but it has actually been a reality for decades. Some of the most recent notable performers include Jewel (Alaska), Jason Mraz (Virginia) and Grand Ole Party (San Francisco). Yet jazz and pop artists, such as Frankie Laine (Chicago), began arriving in the late '60s.

Perhaps the most important influx of new blood came during the early '80s, when transplanted performers such as the Unknowns (Georgia) and Mark DeCerbo (New York) were establishing themselves on the local club circuit. Singer- songwriter Peter Hall, a longtime mainstay of the local pub and coffeehouse circuit, arrived on that wave.

Hall will perform at The Harp in Ocean Beach on Sunday, Aug. 16. The show will be a CD-release event for Hall's latest album, "Schwagtown." "The title is my nickname for Ocean Beach," Hall said. "I was briefly in a band called the Schwags, and since OB was my adopted home for 20 years, it felt appropriate to bring it all together for a title".

Raised in Massachusetts, Hall originally attended college in Durham, N.H., arriving in San Diego in 1980. He lived in Ocean Beach for the first 20 years before settling down in Claremont. He said his reason for the move west was pragmatic.

“I had nothing to lose," Hall said. "I had dropped out of college and the California dream was calling me."

His sister had recently relocated to San Diego, making the area an even more obvious choice. Hall got his start in music a little later than the average musician, learning to play the guitar at age 20 in 1979. He cites two main reasons for his foray into music.

"The first thing that comes to mind is all the artists that were happening in those days," Hall said. "You had the classic stuff like The· Beatles and The Rolling Stones, punk was happening and there were a lot of artists like Elvis Costello and The Pretenders starting out. It was a great time for music."

The move from fan to musician came with his arrival at college. "It seemed like guitars vvere everywhere," Hall said. "Guys were jamming in dorm rooms, playing on the lawns; it was everywhere. It appealed to me, so I went out and bought a cheap guitar and learned a few chords. It wasn't long before I knew that writing and performing is something that I would want to be doing for the rest of my life."

Hall has released two previous albums, "Ataraxia" (1995) and "Uncluttered" (2002), with original music being the main focus. "Schwagtown" mixes thinigs up a little more, including only five originals among the 12 tracks. The album includes classic blues songs such as Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love" and Willie Dixon's "You'll Know Me," alongside more contemporary material such as Bob Dylan's "You Ain't Going Nowhere."

"I suppose I had other songs of my own that could have been included," Hall said. "But when I play gigs I include a lot of classic blues titles. As it became time to put the album together, these songs seemed to fit the bill better. As it turns out, they give a pretty accurate representation of the cross-section of songs you might hear at one of my shows."

Now a 30-year veteran of the local music scene, Hall said he is pleased with his career to date and is looking to "take things to a new level." But whatever lies ahead in terms of sale and airplay for "Schwagtown," he considers the joy he gets out of playing music to be the true benchmark of success. "There's nothing better than the feeling I get at the end of a gig when the audience responds;" Hall said. "That's a feeling of accomplishment my day job never gave me."

Peter Hall performs at 4 pm. on Sunday, Aug. 16 at The Harp, 4935 Newport Ave. The show is for those 21 and up and there is no cover charge.

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