After more than 40 years in music, Peter Himmelman is not only still making music, but he’s back together with his best friends to play the role of his backing band.
“I haven’t used them together in a recording since 1994,” said Himmelman, a St. Louis Park native currently living in the Hudson Valley of New York – although he spoke with TC Jewfolk while in Tel Aviv. “I thought it was a great opportunity. Can we still play that well together? Everyone plays better than ever.”
Himmelman will be playing at the Dakota in downtown Minneapolis on Monday, June 20, with fellow St. Louis Park native Dan Israel opening for him. The show isn’t part of any big tour – a Chicago gig is the only other show this summer. But he is working on a new album, Peter, Son of David – although the title is subject to change. He has already released 15 solo albums, plus go with three live or spoken-word albums and five children’s music albums.
“Over 40 years, I’ve obviously experienced so much, as everyone has,” he said. “Being a father, husband and now grandfather, those are the primary resources of my life. The songs themselves have a very special place as they’ve accumulated and become a catalog and collection. It’s not like I’m not proud of it, but it’s a different sense. I’ve left this mark or legacy, maybe for my children or grandchildren.”
The show at the Dakota will be a very stripped-down show, with Himmelman being backed by his cousin and long-time bandmate Jeff Victor playing the keyboard, and Chicagoan Matt Thompson playing bass. The show he’s playing in Chicago will be an all-request show from the audience, (although he said if anyone has requests for his show, feel free to e-mail us or comment on our social posts and we’ll make sure he sees it). But over a long musical career, he’s played his songs in many different musical arrangements.
“Each configuration has its strengths,” he said. “My songs are constructed in a way that they are quite malleable; I can do them in jazz configurations, in reggae. It could be almost anything.
“Certain songwriters, a lot of what they do has a lot to do with production or grooves that, without that, may not work as well. Mine is classic singer-songwriter stuff. If a talented 15-year-old young woman played my music on an acoustic guitar, it would be able to have an effect. It wouldn’t need a special arrangement to move somebody.”
Himmelman is excited to have Israel open for him, as he said the two musicians have a lot of similarities in their music.
“Dan’s songs can stand-alone or they can be rocked up,” he said. “He’s really an inspiration to me too. It’s one thing to make a record or two, but it’s another to have a whole canon, and he’s definitely done that.”
Reflecting on a long career that shows no signs of slowing down, Himmelman said he is grateful for the career he’s forged.
“When I walk around, the idea of 40 years of writing songs gives me a warm feeling,” he said. “A lot of the songs, if not liturgical, they are prayers: Prayers of thanks. Angry prayers. Prayers of astonishment. Prayers of wonder.”
Want to go see Peter Himmelman in concert at the Dakota? We’ve got two pairs of tickets to give away for the show. Comment on our Facebook or Instagram post with your favorite song and tag a friend by 10 a.m. Friday, June 17. Winners will be drawn at random and notified later that afternoon. Please check out the venue’s COVID policy that is in effect.