After sitting in on vocals, keyboards and drums with bands throughout his teens, Schimke’s first professional gig was with the New Psychenauts and went on as the lead singer of the Swingin’ Combo; both bands formed part of the early Minneapolis rock scene that launched The Replacements and Hüsker Dü. Simultaneously, Schimke began composing for prominent Minneapolis theater companies. At about the same time, he played his first professional rock gig on keyboard with blues harmonica legend Charlie Musselwhite at the Blue Max on Maui. While living in New York, Peter performed at a steady Monday night gig at the Dean Street Café with Craig Bailey of the Ray Charles Band.
Schimke toured, performed and/or recorded with many artists, such as Mark Egan, David Friedman, Danny Gottlieb, Billy Preston, Sam Moore, Iffy, Likehell, Art Farmer, Tom Harrell, Fareed Haque, Mark Murphy, Frank Morgan, David Friedman, Jose Neto, Mike Gordon, Gregoire Maret (Pat Metheny), Emil Richards, Pete Escovedo (Latin Orchestra), Steve Wilson, members of the Wynton Marsalis group (Wes Anderson, Lincoln Goines, Rodney Whitaker), Charlie Persip Big Band, Bill Perkins, Tino D’Geraldo, Jackie Ryan (Ronnie Scott’s in London), Julee Cruise of “Twin Peaks” (Warner Brothers American Tour and London Palladium), Billy Peterson, Estaire Godinez, El Buho, Jeff Sipes, Victor Wooten, Rita Coolidge, Tony Joe White, Gonzalo Lasheras.