Friday, 6 July 2012

BERKLEY HART

Live Review

Robin2, Bilston, Wolverhampton

Meaning no disrespect, but on first sight the San Diego duo Berkley Hart look like a parody of a folk group. They have the appearance of couple of characters from a sketch show but, don't be fooled, they are extremely entertaining and serious musicians, which just proves the old adage of never judging a book by its cover.

Jeff Berkley and Calman Hart
Supporting Eve Selis at the Bilston venue on American Independence Day, they kicked off their set with the all time great Little Boxes written in the 1960s and made a hit by legend Pete Seeger. This warmed them to the crowd straight away and laid the marker down that they were damn good.
The two Californians, Jeff Berkley and Calman Hart, have been around for more than a decade but still have a rawness about them which you usually only find with bands new to the circuit, but they turn this to their advantage having a stage presence that is laid back and almost lazy.
Their repertoire includes songs which uphold the great folk tradition of focusing on the human condition, poignantly picking out stages in life and putting them down in song where they connect with their audience's own experiences.
No better example of this was My Name Is Sam which was a clever musical montage which saw the same two minutes through the eyes of several connected people.
It was very much in the Cat's in the Cradle vein and, given a little booze, is the sort of song that would reduce grown men to tears.
I Still Dream in California was a yearning for home song which was inspired by a conversation Jeff had with one of his friends who had moved to Louisiana. Showing their versatility they then produced a love song, a rasping kind of ballad called She's So Beautiful from their album Las Vegas.
During the set Berkley hammered his guitar, making it ring like a heavy metal Fender while he sang and partner Hart, singing a lot of the time with his hands buried deep in his jeans pockets, also provided guitar and harmonica.
They evoked memories of Canned Heat with another track from Las Vegas, Misery and finished off their set, before coming back on later with Selis for her encore, with the jaunty High School Town which is on their Wreck and Sow album.
Berkley Hart's new album Crow is available now click on to the link to their website for more information.