Dale Peterson walked into a recording studio four years ago to lay down a solo album. He walked out with a band.
The guitarist and vocalist had written all of the songs for Time Machine and enlisted the help of a couple of old friends, bassist Steph Traino and drummer Hampton Flanagan, for the solo recording. Then he realized he wanted an even fuller sound.
“As the songs were developing, I wanted to add keys and horns,” Peterson said. “So we added Mike Malone on keyboard and Gerard Boisse on sax. They were just more friends helping out. But we all meshed so well and it just felt right. Here I was thinking I was going to release a solo album, and I ended up with a 5-piece band.” Thus Trouble No More was born.
Peterson’s roots are in blues and country. His dad, James “Harry” Peterson was a successful steel guitarist and, while Dale grew up largely in Los Angeles, the family often traveled wherever the music took them. He calls himself an “old road dog.”
Peterson fronted the Rhythm Lords from 1988 until 2001, when he met Traino. It was during that time that he cemented his unique style of blues, country and rockabilly with a decidedly East L.A. sensibility.
“My influences are everything from blues to country to surf,” Peterson said. Time Machine proves it, with sounds as disparate as the Chuck Berry-esque “Little Girl, Shake it Down” to “Beatnik Bongo,” sharp-tongued spoken word over the sound of bongo drums. But while Peterson wrote all of the songs, it was Traino who gave the band its name.
“He just kind of came up with it,” Peterson said. “I loved it because “Trouble No More” is one of my favorite Muddy Waters songs and it just has a really positive message to it.
Trouble No More’s sound is, appropriately, upbeat. Peterson describes it as “music that will move people.” But the frontman has a darker side, too.
“‘Beatnik Bongo’ was inspired by the poets I love,” he said. “Raymond Carver, Richard Brautigan, and of course Bukowski, who is my king.”
“I love the darker stuff and stories that just draw you in.” he said. “Tom Waits is one of my kings of songwriting. But I guess I keep my songwriting more accessible to people. I leave the heavier stuff to poetry.”
Peterson has written three books of poetry and published Don’t Stop in the Red Zone. He finds himself lured by the tragic side of life.
“I have always been the fly on the wall.” he said. “When I was young I was always around all these scary and interesting people. I was never involved in their antics but I always ended up surrounded by all these insane people. I became an observer of that darker side. But, in life, I am a lot lighter. I’m an optimist.”
Peterson’s lighter side is what gives Trouble No More its carefree tone and widespread appeal. He knows how to reach people.
“I have played a lot of blues clubs over the years so I’ve leaned what people like,” he said. “And my music is all about moving people and drinking beer and having a good time.”
Come have a good time with Trouble No More on Saturday, October 12 at South Bay Customs, 115 Penn Street in El Segundo. The show is at 8 P.M. and tickets are $6. For more information, visit http://www.southbaycustoms.net.