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  • Writer's pictureJim Bessman

Peter Asher returns to the Cutting Room, this time with Albert Lee

Peter Asher, left, and Albert Lee perform Peter and Gordon's classic "A World Without Love"

Peter Asher brought his acclaimed Peter Asher: A Musical Memoir of the 60s and Beyond featuring the music of Peter and Gordon show to the Cutting Room in January, but when he returns there Sunday night he'll be with guitar hero and fellow Brit Albert Lee in their likewise acclaimed duo show.

"We've been doing it awhile now, off and on—and having a great time doing it," says Asher. "It's really fun—looser than Musical Memoir, where I have my band and am somewhat constrained by my video clips, which are arranged in a certain order."

Musical Memoir traces Asher's extraordinary history as one of the major players in the 1960s Beatles-spurred British Invasion, thanks to his Everly Brothers-inspired partnership with the late Gordon Waller in Peter and Gordon. The hit-making duo is remembered for numerous singles including the chart-topping 1964 Lennon-McCartney signature "A World Without Love."

Lee worked with the Everly Brothers for years.

"I've always been a fan of Albert's," says Asher. "He's on everyone's Top 10 guitar players list, at the very least—and a terrific singer, which a lot of people don't know. We did a couple benefits on the same bill, and out of curiosity tried playing together, and it was really cool."

The Cutting Room gig is the second night of two weeks on the East Coast, after touring together a month last year in the U.K.

"I usually don't do more than 10 days at a time because I have so much other stuff," says Asher, who will return to the road with Lee next month for another two weeks in the Midwest, ending with one date in Phoenix. They also have two night's at McCabe's in Santa Monica, Sept. 15 and 16.

"We may decide to make some changes in the show, since we've never done it at the Cutting Room," he adds. Otherwise, it remains " just us playing guitars and chatting and interacting with the audience.”

As for "other stuff," the ever busy Asher has just completed producing a bluegrass album for Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, having produced Martin's 2013 Grammy-winning Love Has Come for You album collaboration with Edie Brickell, as well as the award-winning Bright Star 2016 musical cast album it inspired (he also supervised the music for the musical).

"It's different from the Edie projects—which weren't particularly bluegrass," says Asher. "It's essentially Steve and the Steep Canyon Rangers, though I've tweaked it a bit, so it's not quite as straightforward as it might have been. It's also more of a live production, and getting great takes of the great music they write—mostly by Steve, who's a terrific composer."

Bright Star, by the way, is now slated for an Oct. 11-Nov. 19 run at the Ahmanson Theatre in los Angeles.

Meanwhile, in addition to mastering the new Martin/Steep Canyon Rangers album, Asher is hard at work on his new Peter Asher: From Me To You weekly Thursday night radio show on Sirius XM's new The Beatles Channel.

"I try to incorporate story-telling and history," says Asher, who writes each episode. "It takes some thought, yes!"

And while he was on his way last night to the satellite channel's Midtown Manhattan studios, he walked past Radio City Music Hall and took a picture of the marquis promoting the July 25-26 Hans Zimmer Live U.S. concert tour stop there. He's that show's director, too, and forwarded the photo on to Zimmer, who's now performing it in London.

"And now I'm out of work!" jokes Asher, who says he's been offered a couple projects.

"I'll get these tours done and get caught up on the next Beatles shows and see what's next," he notes. But he'll be in attendance tonight at the annual Songwriters Hall of Fame induction gala at the Marriott Marquis, accompanied by his daughter Victoria Asher, formerly the keytarist of Cobra Starship and a solo recording artist under the name Vicky-T.

"It's a great event that I always go to,"he says. "Benny Blanco, who's presenting the Hal David Starlight Award to Ed Sheeran, is a friend of both of us, and Ed is a great friend of mine."

Asher included Sheeran on Elton John's 2014 Goodbye Yellow Brock Road 40th anniversary CD celebration, which Asher produced.

"I've been a fan since the minute I first heard him when he was trying to make it in the U.K., and contacted him through Elton's management company," says Asher. "I said, 'Ed, I know a good singer-songwriter when I hear one, and you'e it. You're the James Taylor of today!"

Asher, of course, found, signed and produced James Taylor for the Beatles' Apple label after his Peter and Gordon glory waned, then managed him after leaving Apple. But these experiences are all a part of Musical Memoir.



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