"I come from a family of storytellers," says Peter Case by phone, stealing a few minutes just before soundcheck in Hamilton, Ontario. "Things happen in my family basically just so they can become stories." It makes sense, then, that kindred spirit Will Kimbrough has described Case as having "a storyteller's eye" in addition to "a melodist's ear, a folk singer's soul and a rock 'n' roll heart."
Case has relied on those anatomical gifts to forge an inspiring career, one that started in the clubs around Buffalo, N.Y., and then moved to the streets of California—all before he'd turned 16. From there, he power-popped with the Nerves, guided the R&B-tinged guitar rock of the Plimsouls, and crafted a modern troubadour style that taps into the past while never feeling stale.
And now Case is taking those storytelling skills to the page in the form of As Far As You Can Get Without A Passport, a back-pocket book that tells the story of his move to San Francisco at 15. He played and lived on the streets. "Some people are comparing it to Dylan's Chronicles, but I call it the Anti-Chronicles," Case offers with a wry chuckle. "Dylan came east and made it to the top. And I went west and bounced off the bottom."
Joining Case on the bill at Raleigh's Hideaway BBQ is western North Carolina's Malcolm Holcombe. It's a smart pairing. Case and Holcombe have similar ways of sharing a song, with emotions tumbling out feeling raw and ancient, words something close to sacred. It's as if you're hearing many voices—ancestors and musical pioneers alike. Case and Holcombe are restless journeyers, with each stop along the way offering another story, another song. And now, for Case, another chapter.
Peter Case and Malcolm Holcombe play the fourth show at Hideaway BBQ in Raleigh at 2210 Capital Blvd. on Thursday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. For more, see Hideaway BBQ's Web site.