Pete Molinari is a country blues singer-songwriter from the UK, currently residing in Los Angeles. Born into a large Maltese/Italian/Egyptian family in Kent, England, where he was discovered by the renowned artist Billy Childish.
When I first heard Pete play about 11 years ago here in France, I thought he sounded like a modern version of Woody Guthrie, but the more I’ve heard of him over the intervening years and now again recently, I realize that he is so much more than that.
Great as Woody Guthrie was, Mr Molinari has grown up and his repertoire has expanded, as have his video views, from a few thousand to over 200k plus, and they’re warranted, because Pete’s music now embodies a richer, bolder, dare I say it, more pop-like approach, without losing his melancholic vocal notes; a change which he needed to make and it’s worked, it really has.
His collaborations with Jakob Dylan (son of Bob Dylan), Evan Rachel Wood (Actress & musician), and Ronnie Spector (Motown legend) amongst other record industry greats are hopefully set to put him in the long-overdue spotlight.
Settled and in a harmonious relationship both in life and with his music, 2020 was to be the year that Pete broke the American music scene, but the crapfest that hit the world with Covid-19 has put all that on hold, along with his tour that was to promote his album ‘Just Like Achilles’.
Having made the move from the UK to New York several years ago, Pete now lives in LA with his girlfriend Mila, where they’ve been for 5 years. During this time, he’s slowly worked away at recording albums and touring, until last year when he came to the attention of record producer Linda Perry.
Linda put him in front of the right people, and things started to happen.
I interviewed Pete for over 2 hours, got loads of interesting facts and thoughts from him, but to be honest, I have struggled as to how best to present him, as he is multifaceted, not from this era, and really deserves to be ‘discovered’ (even though some of us have known him for years!). He’s a treat for the ears and a refreshing take on a mixture of Folk, Blues, Rock ‘n Roll, Country & Western with a bit of Soul chucked in.
His top 5 favorite tracks show his diverse influences:
Billy Holiday – Don’t Explain
He pretty much likes most of what she recorded.
Buddy Holly – Every Day
Loves the late 50’s period, composing their own songs, first signs of pop.
The Beatles – Strawberry Fields Forever
He loves everything they’ve done on a Pop and Rock N Roll level. Even if he doesn’t listen to it for a couple of years he still finds something very interesting about it. A whole new page for music at that point. The psychedelia bit interests him less.
Addio del pasato – From the Opera “La Travaiatta” by Verdi sung by Maria Callas
Sad undertones, areas of variation within a play. He listened to Opera before he’d even heard of rock n roll, at home from an early age.
Edith Piaf – L’accordéoniste
Incredible arrangement and melody with an amazing voice and intense nature.
He grew up within a large family of 5 brothers and 3 sisters, with Italian and Egyptian parents. His mum embraced the artist in him, always there nudging him along what could have been a tough path to walk. Luckily for Pete, his mum definitely wears the trousers in his family.
He studied Fashion at The Kent Institute of Art and Design, then he was accepted at the prestigious Camberwell School of Art, but by that time he was playing guitar and piano and started traveling to France and New York to play, so he didn’t go in the end.
I asked him if he felt that he had grown up in the wrong era – he laughed and said yes, always, and that he and his girlfriend have had the same conversation, as Mila is really into the 20’s and 30’s era. Her father was a magician, she went to clown school, learned how to tap dance, and sings Jazz – her whole existence has been theatrical and circus-like, she’s Brazilian and to talk to her you think that you’re in the golden age of Hollywood. Perhaps this is what has drawn Pete to Mila, vice versa, and in turn to LA?
It’s apparent that Pete has a very strong creative base that he could have used to go off in any direction, be it fashion, fine art, design, or music. Fortunately for us, he chose music, but I get the feeling that anything he chooses to do will be with grace, style, and a touch of glamour from a bygone age. His star is burning brightly and we wish him a well-lit path down whatever route he chooses to take.