Over the course of a lengthy career, Detroit-born, L.A.-based musician Pete Anderson has worked with the likes of Dwight Yoakam, Lucinda Williams, Jim Lauderdale and Rosie Flores. He also worked, in the late '80s, with a then up-and-coming singer-songwriter named Michelle Shocked, who had just signed to Mercury Records. Anderson produced and arranged two of Shocked's Mercury albums, 1988’s Short Sharp Shocked, which introduced the offbeat folk rocker to a national audience thanks to the hit "Anchorage," and 1989's Captain Swing.
Shocked parted ways with Mercury after 1992’s Arkansas Traveler but continued to enjoy a successful career as an independent artist — though she lost a lot of goodwill among fans and fellow musicians in 2013 when she went into a bizarre "God hates fags" rant during a show at Yoshi's, a jazz club in San Francisco. Despite that infamous outburst, Anderson agreed to accompany Shocked on a tour revisiting her Mercury output, kicking off this past June in New York City — a tour for which Anderson now claims he and his band have yet to be paid.
Last Thursday, Anderson released the following statement on various social media platforms, giving his side of the conflict:
From the office of Pete Anderson
TO All Musicians, Promoters Venues and anyone who will be doing business with Michelle Shocked who is managed by Alan Wolmark from CEC Management.
We would like to address the unfortunate situation we encountered while working with artist, Michelle Shocked on her recent 30th Anniversary tour of her album, “Short Sharp Shocked”.
It’s been over 2 months since the band has returned home from the first set of dates of the summer tour. And Pete and the band have not been paid for their services.
We were told that the balance was to be paid via wire transfer. This was 2 months ago and there’s been no follow up information provided. All attempts from our office to contact Michelle have been ignored.
For someone who is a Christian, an Activist and the champion of the down trodden, it seems very hypocritical that she refuses to take care of her personal business. She seems to be operating in a very Donald Trump like fashion.
Let no good deed go unpunished.
Calls to Wolmark's office seeking comment on Anderson's statement were not returned. When L.A. Weekly called a cellphone number belonging to Shocked, the person answering insisted, after a long pause, that “you have reached the wrong person.” Later, on Twitter, Shocked specifically called out this Weekly writer by name. She also directed a lengthy tweet storm at Anderson, calling his statement "Extortion 101" and claiming, "I'd given him $2,500 cash night [sic] to pay his band in full." She did not respond to a further request for comment, instead blocking this writer.
Anderson insists he and his band are still owed $4,500 for the shows they played. So far, he says, their only compensation has been in the form of a credit card used for gas and other travel expenses, which Shocked is claiming the band misused. Anderson says he only went public with the dispute as a last resort.
“We’ve been friends since I produced her,” Anderson told L.A. Weekly, speaking of his relationship with Shocked. “She stayed at my house, hung out with my family." After the Yoshi's incident, he says, "I counseled her on how to handle it."
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Initially, Anderson says, when Shocked invited him to join her band for the tour, he declined. “I said, ‘No, I don’t want to play in anyone else’s band, but how about we have my band back you up?’ We rehearsed it all, got ready — on my dime — and drove out to do four shows, starting in New York. We finish the four shows, come back and I tell her, ‘Look, I need to pay my guys.’”
Instead, according to Anderson, Shocked and Wolmark demanded to see gas receipts for the credit card the band had been given to cover travel expenses, which Anderson says he provided. "And then she says, ‘I’m not paying you and I dispute $347 of these gas purchases.’ How can you dispute that? We drove from L.A. to New York. It was just crazy.”
Anderson says he has paid his band out of his own pocket and plans to take his case to small claims court. But for him, going public with the dispute was more a matter of principle than a simple matter of money.
“I am at the end of my career,” Anderson said. “I’ve been very fortunate — $4,500 means nothing to me, nothing. But this is about the musicians — prices go up, rent goes up, gas goes up, and we’re all still getting paid $50. You can’t do that to musicians. It’s not right. So I told [Shocked and Wolmark] I’ve got to put my foot down and call [them] out on this. You’ve got to pay your bills.”