Interview With Peter Griesar

By Waldo Jaquith

Peter Griesar calls out from across the parking lot.

"I've got two glasses of wine in me! I just went to Wendy's to get a burger. Ninety-nine cents!"

Indeed, he has a half-consumed cheeseburger in his right hand, which he's gesticulating with as he suggests that we go into The C&O and sit down. The C&O has been hailed as one of the best restaurants on the Atlantic coast by Bon Appetit, Food & Wine Magazine, The New York Times and The Washington Post. Not coincidentally, The C&O is also where posh Charlottesvillians go to see and be seen. And on this summer Thursday night, it's packed.

Pushing his way downstairs to the bar of the four-star restaurant, Griesar plops down and polishes off his burger while a woman, just a few feet from him, starts on a twenty-four dollar steak. He is completely oblivious to any potential conflict.

Peter Griesar is off in his own little world much of the time. Sometimes, while talking to him, you get the sense that he's having a wholly different conversation than you are. It's as if he simply can't contain all of his creative energy, and it has to manifest itself somehow. As a sort of impulsive-savant Tourett's Syndrome, he ends up making surprising connections between seemingly-unrelated topics, and does so constantly. He effectively thinks in hypertext, which causes him to make an enthusiastic point about, say, nuclear disarmament when he has simply been asked if he has the time.

It's just this unusual style of thinking that makes him a shockingly talented writer. He's written some of the best songs being recorded today. Some are famous (DMB's smash-hit "So Much To Say"), but most you've never heard of ("Pulling," "Superfastgo," "Dreams.") His songs are often referred to as "catchy," or "poppy." Most of them are a lot of fun, and all reveal a genuinely rare talent for composing music, writing lyrics and assembling songs.

Perhaps the most frustrating part of Griesar's music is the very real possibility that very few people in the world will ever hear it. He's fiercely independent. Most of his recordings are entirely created by him in his home, hand-packaged and -sealed. He's seen the record industry, and knows it for what it is. Although a grassroots promotion movement has already started, it very well may take a major label to launch him. But given Griesar's rather unpleasant experiences with Big Music, it may take a lot of convincing for a label to convince him to sign. Once he's discovered, though, they may very well be interested in doing a great deal of convincing.

. . .

It is quite clear that Griesar has had at least two glasses of wine. He's completely at home in The C&O, having worked and relaxed in Charlottesville bars for just over a decade. He knows half of the people there, and many of them interrupt to provide an enthusiastic greeting.

"That's the lovely Kara McLaine at that table. Hey, Kara, I'm saying that on mic! I'm being interviewed. That's the lovely Kara McLaine, at that table."

Page 2 ››