Peter and his wife Johannah have written a rock opera together that premiered to standing ovations at the Chocolate Church Arts Center in Bath, ME on September 30 – Oct 2. The next performances will take place at the Frontier Theater in Brunswick January 20 and 21. Tickets are available now at http://onewaytriptomars.bpt.me
Chocolate Church Hosts Premiere of Innovative Rock Opera “One Way Trip to Mars.”
Chocolate Church Arts Center hosted the world premiere of “One Way Trip to Mars,” a powerful work of art, music, and dance written by award-winning songwriters Peter Alexander and Johannah Harkness, in three performances: Friday and Saturday, September 30 & October 1 at 7:30 PM, and Sunday, October 2 at 2:00 PM.
“One Way Trip to Mars” is set in the year is 2030. During the previous decade several unmanned missions have transported to Mars the basic components for a human colony. Our hero, Paolo, is chosen from a worldwide competition to be the first human to travel to Mars. In taking on this mission Paolo relinquishes all he has ever known: his beautiful planet Earth, his family and friends, and his wife, Cassandra, who loves him even though she, in her wisdom, is aware of the misguided nature of his thirst for glory.
While on his way to Mars, war and nuclear terrorism on earth cause communication links to go down, leaving Paolo completely alone in the universe. In a last ditch attempt to colonize Mars (and save the human race, whose survival on the poisoned planet Earth is very much in doubt), the space agency sends Cassandra to join her husband. Paolo doesn’t know Cassandra is coming, and Cassandra doesn’t know if Paolo is even still alive. Through the course of 18 original songs leading to a dramatic ending, the story unfolds as Paolo evolves in emotional and spiritual maturity and Cassandra comes into her own power.
The stage production featured Bath-based Hollowbody Electric Band with guest appearances by Raging Brass Reggae, Vox Nova Chamber Choir, Mehuman Jonson, a quartet, a rapper, a dancer, and other guest performers peppered throughout the program in surprising and delightful ways. A light show designed by Mike Gudroe, and sound and special effects by Derek Roe, created the dramatic setting.
You can also read an excerpted chapter in the March 2016 issue of Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors Magazine here:
Peter’s “Hollowbody Electric Band” is soon to start recording of their next CD–a rock opera called “One Way Trip to Mars.” The storyline, music, and lyrics were written by Peter and Johannah, and the band has already worked up most of the material. The opera was previewed on January 9 at a private “studio party” in Bath, Maine.
Peter’s “Hollowbody Electric Band” released their “Prickly Stickers” CD in September, and it was accepted into the Grammys to compete in the Best Rock Album category (unfortunately, it didn’t get a nomination). The CD has 12 songs, including 7 written by Johannah Harkness. To hear the tracks or purchase the CD or downloads, go to http://www.hollowbody.us/music-store/
Peter Alexander’s song “Vicksburg,” about his great-great grandfather, the Reverend Eben Blachly, was winner of the 2014 Maine Songwriting Contest. It tells the story of Rev. Blachly’s run-in with a group of Confederate soldiers at the end of the Civil War when he rode down south from Wisconsin looking for his son, a Union soldier who had been captured and was wasting away in a military prison. The experience Blachly endured changed his life forever, and he was so moved by it that he sold his Wisconsin Farm, bought land outside Kansas City, KS, and founded the first university west of the Mississippi for former slaves and displaced Native Americans. Peter is a fine storyteller, both in song and on stage, and coupled with his quiet virtuosity on the guitar, his strong tenor voice, and a wagonload of original and cover songs, he is an engaging entertainer. Peter also performs with his Hollowbody Electric Band, which features his wife Johannah Harkness. It is a rich musical partnership, for Johannah is, if anything, an even better songwriter than Peter, and the addition of her voice, keyboards, and occasional turn at the ukelele make Hollowbody Electric Band both versatile and eclectic. You can learn more about the band at www.hollowbody.us
Here are a few samples of their music:
Peter’s song “Begging for Change–the Heath Care Blues”, written in 2009 at the request of SEIU for their campaign for universal healthcare, has been featured several times on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now program, most recently at the end of January, prompting an article about the song and its history in the Portland Daily Sun.
Peter also recently performed a solo concert as part of the 200th anniversary celebrations of Phippsburg, garnering this review: “Peter is a natural performer – a fine musician and singer, not to mention a gifted storyteller. He had the audience exactly where he wanted them.” – The Community Concert Series at Phippsburg Congregational Church
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Peter’s acoustic CD “Sunlight on the Crystal Sea — Songs from the coast of Maine” is now available. This is a re-mastered and renamed version of “In Between Blues” which has been selling consistently well for a couple of years at the Center for Maine Crafts. If you’d like a copy you can order here for just $10 including shipping (US only). This CD contains acoustic versions of a few of the same songs that are on Promised Land, but also about a dozen others like “Red Bird”, “She’s So Good to Me”, “Dancing All the Time” and a rocking version of “We’ve Got to Change This World”. For international purchases ($15 includes shipping) please click here:
Peter’s new CD “Promised Land” has been getting good critical acclaim. Recorded at Jud Caswell’s Frog Hollow Studio in Brunswick, it is full of some of Peter’s best songs, like “While We Were Dreaming”, “Promised Land” and “Fade Away.” Buy it here for $10 plus shipping
Read this excellent review from the Portland Press Herald.
We are organizing a series of concerts and other events to promote the CD, so please take a minute to check out the performance schedule and sign up for updates.