By Brian Rill
Songwriter Peter G. Israel is one of the many weighty names from Salida’s long musical history. He is best known for the song Midnight at the Palace Hotel, and the 2007 album that bears the same name. This catchy tune celebrates the old multi-story brick building where countless outlaws and first-class connoisseurs have held court and bedded down for the evening or in some cases, a lifetime.
“Joey’s bringing strangers to his room upstairs; they might be undercover, he don’t care. You can hear the couple fighting in the room next door; there’s noises in the night and magic in the air. Because it’s midnight at the Palace Hotel, this isn’t heaven, but it sure ain’t hell. When it’s midnight at the Palace Hotel, I’ll meet you baby at the top of the stairwell.” This mournful rock ballad grooves with a quick up-tempo and a sarcastic lyrical style.
This excellent, full-length CD starts out with the simple song, Sweet Mountain Air, an acoustic masterpiece with a joyfully bounding beat. Its sonorous testament alludes to the blessing of being able to breathe the clean mountain air in the Colorado Rockies. “I’m going where the sun is shining, up where the air is fresh and clear. I’m leaving the past behind me, no more chains to bind me now.”
Woman In The Mountain is a track that worships the female deity of Tenderfoot Hill, a local Salida landmark better known to newcomers as “S” Mountain. “Woman in the mountain, sunshine in your eyes, water fire earth and sky meet and collide. When the night is over and the morning star shines, I see you in the mountain in the morning light.” Peter’s smooth rock guitar style sways in and out of the melodic verse lines dancing through the entire length of this blissful tune. His gritty vocals roughly vibrate behind vowels and crisply caress the corners of consonants of his lyrics that draw out casually in this down home ditty.
A deep blues cut from the album called Don’t Kick A Good Man blares out of the speakers with a loud syrupy slide guitar and a shuffle beat. Stu Pappenfort from the infamous Salida band, The Lazy Aliens, drops his masterful lead guitar licks from a Stratocaster into the mix. The chorus proclaims a direct message from a man who is broken-hearted but still retains a prideful and stoic character. “Don’t kick a good man when he’s down on his luck, because when you come running back to me baby, you know that door is going to be shut.”
The hard rock number called Lose It All includes a binaural dueling guitar solo that rips across the left to right stereo mix panning between both ears. It’s a song that discusses the devastating remorse that a down- on-his-luck musician faces in the struggle to survive in the long lost avenues of homelessness while still trying to come to a reconciliation with his beleaguered humanity. “Can you tell me what it all comes down to when the smoke turns into ash? Will there be another resurrection and a turning from the past?” Peter G. Israel was rumored to have passed away recently while striving to make a feeble existence doing what he loved: playing guitar while living among street performers and busking musicians in the deep dark underbelly of Los Angeles. A sample of his work can be heard at www.myspace.com/petergisrael
Brian Rill is a teacher, performer, activist poet and award-winning Latin songwriter voted Salida’s best musician 2009.