Peter Case appears in a release party for "Hwy 62" at Doc's Lab.  (Courtesy Greg Allen)

Peter Case appears in a release party for "Hwy 62" at Doc's Lab. (Courtesy Greg Allen)

Troubadour Peter Case remembers S.F. in the 1970s

Erudite ex-Nerves/Plimsouls anchor Peter Case, whose great new solo recording is called “Hwy 62,” also is the author of a scrappy autobiography, 2007’s “As Far As You Can Get Without a Passport.” Recently, he was overjoyed to reconnect with poet-publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti, whose City Lights bookstore was one of his favorite haunts when he first moved to San Francisco in 1973. “I went up to him and said, ‘Man, I want to thank you, because when I was a teenager, you guys never turned me out, and I read my way through here, in that room above the cash register,’” he says. “And he said, ‘Ah, yes. The science fiction room!’”

You’ve moved back to San Francisco from Los Angeles. But what was The City like when you first arrived?

It was a different scene, a different world back then. I got here in March of ’73, and the Haight was dead, but there was this energy all over The City of counterculture. I was a street musician, and there were really great musicians who would come through, and you’d only see them once or twice, playing on the street as they’d pass through town.

And you had no fixed address at the time?

I lived on the street — I didn’t have an apartment or any place to live for a couple of years. But there was a junkyard behind the heliport in Sausalito, so if things got really bad, there was a bread truck there that I lived in. But generally, you could always meet somebody and go stay at their places. But I just wanted to play guitar, you know? So I lived on the fringes, and that’s how I did it.

Where were the most lucrative areas to busk?

Every night, if I could, I’d get up on the corner of Broadway and Columbus, across from City Lights, and I had a band of different people. And in the day, I’d either be at Union Square, or at the Cannery. And sometimes if it was raining, we’d get on the bus, and go up and down the street, playing in the back.

Was it tough, moving to L.A. in ’77?

When we got there, we went to the Whiskey, and Van Halen was playing for 50 people. And we went, ”This dinosaur rock is still happening?” We couldn’t believe it. But we dug in, and we were just permanent. But I was in San Francisco for a long time, and I was on foot, so I really got to know the town from a particularly intense viewpoint. So I always really loved it here. And I knew I was going to come back.


Peter Case
Where: Doc’s Lab, 124 Columbus Ave., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Jan. 14
Tickets: $16 to $20
Contact: (415) 649-6191, www.ticketfly.comAs Far Away As You Can Get Without a PassportHwy 62Lawrence FerlinghettiPeter CasePlimsouls

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