Peter Himmelman has fascinated me since I heard he wears tzitzis and is son-in-law to Bob Dylan. He’s been recording since high school, lives in LA, does tons of music for TV and Hollywood, and is described as one of the most wildly imaginative performers on the scene. My recent journey to hear him play confirms this. More on that in a second. Meanwhile, his earliest recordings with Sussman Lawrence, the legendary Minneapolis group that evolved into The Peter Himmelman Band, live again with the reissue of its two distinguished and long out of print indie albums Hail To The Modern Hero (1980) and Pop City (1984). This limited edition two-disc set entitled The Complete Sussman Lawrence (1979-1985) also includes four rare bonus tracks.

Peter is promoting his latest album, Imperfect World, at a three show engagement in one of LA’s most original dive bars. The Cinema Bar is barely large enough to turn around in, and the band could reach the bar to grab a drink. The audience for Peter at these free shows has been, well, crammed to the gills.

Suddenly I’m forty five, I’m balding, and I’ve been cooped up indoors doin’ these thirty second snippets of television music for the last six years…I needed to make this record like you need to breathe.

He is famous for messing with the audience, and when I saw him last week, he had a random audience member up there blowing a harmonica into a mic. And this guy is blowing his brains out on the harmonica. And the audience is loving it, and he blows even harder. And then we notice that the mic didn’t have a cord and we couldn’t hear a note… Peter plays slide guitar on his knees and his effortless, melodic music and monologues passed by in a flash, and before we knew it we had to say “encore”.

Peter returns to Cinema Bar for one last show Wednesday night. His gig is from 9-11pm. See ya there.

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Rabbi Yonah

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