By Johnny Petersen
The city of Göttingen in Northern Germany is the home to the exiting multi-instrumentalist and singer Peter Funk. Born in 1966 he began playing guitar at around 12 years old in his school’s music class. At the same time, he was singing in the church choir. It took only three years until he had formed his first band, an acoustic duo with his brother Tim on harmonica, largely inspired by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee as well as an electric band inspired by great blues artists such as Muddy Waters and Canned Heat and another band focused on Southern Rock. As an adult he formed two bluegrass bands as well as The Front Porch Pickers, a band that still is pickin’, both Hawaiian style music and Western Swing.
The reason for playing Hawaiian music came naturally when he learned to play lap steel and Weissenborn guitars, two instruments that has led Peter to fame as a virtuoso. The Weissenborn, being a favorite instrument, turned out to be the perfect instrument for other musical styles as well such as “The Titanic”.
Nowadays Peter Funk is playing alternatively with The Front Porch Pickers, as a duo with his brother Tim Funk and in an array of constellations with names such as Herbert Wegener, Ian Melrose, Bob Bonastre, Klaus Weiland, Ulli Boegershausen and Kevin Yost.
The electric days are long gone and now Peter is fully focused on the acoustic sound, even so hard core that he never uses a pick-up in his guitars. Peter thinks the guitar sounds more accurate with a good microphone in front of it. He is playing some really old high-class guitars and don’t want to destroy them by adding pick-ups, an operation where one usually has to drill holes in the instrument. Here’ an impressing list over his darlings:
– National Style 0 Roundneck 1932
– National Tricone Squareneck 1928
– National Lapsteel Electro 1935
– Weissenborn Hawaiian Guitar 1925
– Rickenbacher B6 Lapsteel 1948
– Fender Stringmaster Lapsteel 1953
Besides the various guitars he also masters the ukulele, the autoharp and the harmonica. (When thecountryblues.com calls him up he says the coming Sunday he will perform with a couple of guitars with pick-ups, due to practical reasons. He didn’t seem overjoyed by the idea…).
Over the years Peter Funk has recorded a number of CDs, both in EP format and full length, solo as well as with others. His latest recording is a 12” LP, “From Maui to Memphis”, a title that well describes his great span in music. He is also the author of various instruction book, mainly in German but one in English, published by the renowned Mel Bay.
When asked about his touring it turns out that he only plays in Germany as he holds a day job as an IT-tech besides his musical career. The only exception giving a concert at a resonator festival in the Tjeck Republic a few years ago.
Given the question on what contemporary artist he would like to invite to perform together with, his direct answer is, “Taj Mahal.” To Peter Taj Mahal embodies the heart of acoustic guitar and resonator guitar music as he also plays indigenous music, Hawaiian as well as Carribean, besides the blues.
Peter is quite sad that Corona pandemic has closed down all gigs that were booked and really looks forward to get to playing again.