Session 200: Peter Mulvey // Caley Conway

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August 22, 2018

Peter Mulvey is a veteran singer and songwriter from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He began his career on the streets of Dublin, Ireland, as a busker, and from there moved on to performing in the subways and streets of Boston, Massachusetts. This led to his first record deal and a leap to full-time national and international touring, beginning in the early Nineties.

Mulvey is an iconoclast within the singer/songwriter world. Restless and inventive, he has made seventeen records, spanning rock and roll, folk, Jazz, spoken word, and Americana. A long-standing gig at the National Youth Science Camp led to a spoken word piece, Vlad the Astrophysicist, which became a TEDx talk, and then an illustrated book. In 2007 he began an annual late summer tour by bicycle instead of by car and airplane- the 10th annual bicycle tour will happen this September. He has taught songwriting and guitar workshops at the Swannanoa Gathering and at various folk festivals across the U.S.

In 2015, Take Down Your Flag, his song about the victims of the shooting at the AME Emanuel Church in Charleston, reached 200,000 people when many songwriters, including Ani DiFranco, Anais Mitchell, Keb Mo, Paula Cole, & Jeff Daniels, re-wrote the middle verse and posted their own videos of the song. This movement led to an online benefit concert, and a deepening of the friendship between Mulvey and DiFranco. Early in 2016 DiFranco produced Are You Listening?, Peter Mulveys 17th record, which was released on Righteous Babe Records.

Mulvey continues to tour, playing over a hundred shows a year as he has for the past twenty five years. This is the core of what he does: music, in a room, performed for a live audience.


A funny thing happens when Caley Conway steps out into the world to learn organic farming: she ends up on a path that winds back, and more deeply so, into music. Its little wonder that the songwriter's infectious sound has combined ukulele, Hindustani scale elements, and the rural ramblings of acoustic slide guitar. Her first serious bandmates were also her sustainable farming mentors - both of them sixty something, music-on-the-side guys, performing often while keeping up farms on Maui and New Zealand's north island. After three years of traveling abroad from farm to farm, (and eventually to India, following a band of Sufis on a musical pilgrimage), Conway longed to re-immerse in old friendships, collaborations, and a nurturing scene for original music. 

Caley landed in Riverwest in 2012, where her own songwriting served as a side project while she cut her teeth singing backup for Myles Coyne and the Rusty Nickel Band, and D'amato. Soon after, she formed Caley Conway and the Lucy Cukes with a
few longtime friends to record original Caley Conway songs which, until then, scarcely left the walls of her bedroom. The band dispersed in 2016 after 3 years of playing together.

Today, in a gesture of self-sufficiency within a vastly male-dominated industry, Conway arranges, performs, and releases her music under her own name and calls on a more fluid cast of players to fit the needs of the music. She endeavors to be her own lead guitarist- a move that has guided the compositions to more experimental places in recent years.

One thing hasn't changed: Conway's reputation for storytelling in an honest, and at times jarring, lyrical style. Critics note her performances as having "poise," "quiet ease," and an "extroardinarily light touch." Her lyrics are at once humorous and sorrowful, being called "sharply detailed," and "eloquent in describing the mundane."

The Milwaukee native now has two EP's, one LP and a B-side collection to her name. No Depression Magazine credited her work as "becoming the next big thing in folk music." Her 2016 full-length, Silk For Life, was hailed "an ambitious piece that puts
Conway on the map for 2017," by Paste Magazine, and was nominated for three Radio Milwaukee Music Awards last year. Caley tours the midwest this October after selfreleasing
the double B-side, "Barrels." She is currently recording an EP with her trio, set to release early next year.