Pianist Engages Audience with Relatable Originals
Pete Morley, Georgia resident since 1985, performed his piano-based solo set for Woodstock Coffeehouse on Friday.
Woodstock Coffeehouse hosted pianist, vocalist and songwriter Pete Morley Friday night, creating an enjoyable evening for everyone. Morley is friend to frequent performers Kevin Carlson and Bruce Gibson. Morley played at a Woodstock Coffeehouse open mic and decided to come back for more.
“It's got a great vibe. Everyone is really supportive,” Morley said.
This California-born musician enjoys visiting Woodstock, both for its small-town feel and its nightlife. Morley said he especially likes the downtown scene and has performed shows there before.
“I'm an architect by trade, so I appreciate what Woodstock has done to transform the downtown area into a live/work/play community," Morley said. "I played in a trio at Right Wing Tavern on Wednesday evenings last summer, and it was really cool to see folks hanging out at the restaurants."
Morley's musical style is self-described as in between folk and pop with a little bit of country. He has been told his songs would be ideal for movie soundtracks, but said he does not believe he fits into any particular style.
His love of music began early, probably because of his surroundings as a young child.
“I grew up listening to my dad play the piano, mainly Chopin and Debussy," Morley explained. "When he wasn't playing he was always listening to stuff. Seemed like our house was always filled with music of some sort or another."
This constant exposure to music led Morley to take classical piano lessons during his teenage years, and he has played in various bands since the seventh grade.
“I also played for a year in the Cal Poly jazz band. For a kid that grew up in rock bands and playing classical music I can honestly say that playing jazz was the toughest year of my musical life. It was also incredibly rewarding,” Morley said of his musical experience.
He has played piano in a cover band called Backtrax for the past 10 years and performs some covers of his own during solo sets. On Friday, his repertoire of covers included Elton John's “Daniel" and Jackson Browne's "Doctor My Eyes."
Morley said he likes to perform songs that cause some sort of reaction in the audience.
“You can instantly see if the music moves people. If I don't see a reaction it usually tells me I have some rewriting to do."
During his sets, Morley's goal is to engage his audience. He writes about real life experiences that he said he hopes others can relate to. His favorite originals are those that elicit an emotional reaction.
Morley has been able to compose piano music for quite a while, but in late 2003 he finally began developing his lyrical skills.
“It was a difficult time for me personally and I think the music just sort of bubbled to the surface."
He is inspired by musicians like Billy Joel, Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan and Chicago. He said he hopes to begin recording his second album by the end of this month.
“My first CD was primarily a piano/vocal thing with me and Steve Ward playing all the instruments," Morley said. "This CD will be different. We're going to let each song tell us what the instrumentation should be. It may be piano, it may not."
His first album, All and Everything, was released in 2008 and is available online at www.petemorley.com.