MP3 Aaron Berg - Love & Coffee Tapes, Vol. 2
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7 MP3 Songs in this album (29:53) !
Related styles: Folk: Fingerstyle, Country: Americana, Mood: Dreamy
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Not many musicians could truly claim a background sufficiently steeped in the American roots tradtion to boast the label voodoo chile but if ever there was another among them it would be Aaron Berg. Born in 1984 and raised by âmom & popâ record store owners in upstate South Carolina, he spent his childhood days largely under a record bin and was playing upright and fender bass by age fourteen in nightclubs, cafes, and bars with a variety of folk, blues, and rock n roll bands. In addition to having owned the record store in Greenville, SC since 1975 (called Horizon Records) during his teenage years Bergâs family also ran a regional concert promotion company which promoted artists such as Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Lyle Lovett, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Sam Bush, Gillian Welch, Los Lobos, Wilco, Lucinda Williams, John Prine, Dr. John, Tony Rice, Bela Fleck, and The Band, among many others. During these early years Aaron was never far from sight absorbing from the wings of a dozen different stages a spiraling array of American folk and roots music.
âI met Jimmie Vaughan when I first started playing,â Berg recalls. âI will never forget him leaning down with all those rings and his greased back hair to shake my hand. All he said was âplay what you want to hear, son.â I think that could be the best advice anyone has ever given me.â Aaron sights delta blues and Appalachian folk as his initial sources of inspiration. âI think John Lee Hooker is the closest cousin to the music of the future. His music is made almost entirely of soul and improvisation. It is most of all about the raw intention of the singer. Hip Hop is what will be drawn inside next. Blues and Rap have a lot more in common than has been realized.â Despite Bergâs heavy draw from folk and blues as primary influences his background stretches in virtually every direction as does his music.
Although Aaron's interest in performing and singing made its debut in 2007 with 'Songs For Madame X' the initial traces of inspiration begin three years earlier when he landed a gig playing upright bass for bluegrass icon Peter Rowan (known also from The Grateful Dead song as Panama Red) who was guitarist and leadsinger for Bill Monroe in the sixties and bandmate of arists such as Jerry Garcia, Tony Rice, and Sam Bush. âI met Peter Rowan in New York City on the morning of my twentieth birthday at the Washington Square North Hotel. I was sitting in the marble lobby under a giant reproduction of the John Singer Sargeant painting âMadame Xâ which as fate would have it ended up being the title of my first album. Peter walked in with a silver-banded sombrero, a silk shirt, and a red headed daughter. In terms of being a traveling, singing performer that pretty much sealed the deal.â
"After I met Peter I really started going out and singing more in the city, staying out all night and meeting lots of strange people. This was the time when things really started to change. I lived pretty much anywhere that would have me. This was a much different kind of madness from what I had seen during my brief art school days. These were people truly standing in the cracks you know, in a transition beyond their own understanding, speaking an incomplete language. Some were homeless, divorced, unlucky. Others just seemed to find comfort in the view from the fringe." Berg's songwriting during this time began to take a more fragmented view, the images and chords delivered faster and with greater tension. "I wrote my first songs in one sitting during that time and really got the machinery of it together. I was experimenting all the time. Really learning the tools and pieces of crafting a song."
In the Spring of 2007 Aaron traveled on a brief ten day tour through the South and back to New York. Joining him on the trip were two friends, later redrawn in the completed rendition of 'Midnight Shining Sun' under the pseudonyms Johnny and 'the bearded man in overalls'. Although Berg had performed extensively in New York City gaining a small but highly devoted following, he now set his sights on touring. "Once I did that first little East Coast tour I realized the importance of the road. It's the crowning piece to the musician's craft. I basically started without knowing what I was doing." Living in his van and crashing on couches Berg spent time in Philadelphia, the Hudson Valley, Chicago, Nashville, and Western North Carolina. Eventually he wound up back in Brooklyn drawn north by the familiar circle of friends and the endless rolling hours of city living. "I spent a lot of time just listening to people tell their stories. If you give someone the proper chance you will be amazed what they will tell you. I hung out once again at diners and friends houses as well as Pete's Candy Store, The Lucky Cat, Rosemary's Tavern on Bedford, all over."
"I had the van parked and was sleeping one day near Lorimer Street when somebody started knocking on my window. I opened the door and found Rosy Nolan standing on the pavement with a friend. They were walking the friend's dog. The dog just started at me and panted. I got out of the van and we went and got breakfast. Those were great times." Nolan, a native Californian and a songwriter herself, also shared Aaron's desire to do an extended cross-country tour. The pair met originally in the summer of 2006 and quickly became friends.
Berg and Nolan ultimately traveled nearly 15,000 miles over four months from the coast of Wilmington, North Carolina to California's Pacific and back to the very same beach where they began. On the road they performed both seperately and together blending their distinctive brands of American folk into a fascinating counterpoint of music and poetry. The pair slept in state parks, occasionally in motels, and in the car. Shows ranged from dive bars, house concerts, and coffee houses to small local theatres and clubs. âTraveling that year changed me in ways I had not expected,â Aaron reflects. âThe feeling of being completely anonymous both in terms of identity and geography took hold somehow. Not only that we were broke too. I mean really broke. I remember at one point in Texas stealing firewood so we could cook our dinner later at the campsite where we were staying in Pedernales Falls outside Austin.â The duo traveled as far North as Minneapolis and as far South as New Orleans meeting an incredible cast of characters along the way.
In 2008, Aaron returned to South Carolina where he began to record in a two-room garage apartment in his hometown of Greenville located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains just south of Asheville, NC. The resulting tracks combined with live tapes from the road, bootlegs, rap remixes, and the occasional thread-bare hotel demo have made been collected into an on going series titled 'Love & Coffee Tapesâ.
Love & Coffee Tapes Volume 2 represents the next installment of this on-going series by Aaron Berg. Composed of live bootlegs, moody demos, and after-hours sessions, the performances are raw and unadorned. On 'Where The River Meets The Sea' you can hear the wooden chair Berg is seated on creaking as he nears the end of his whispery finger-picked love letter sung with as much tongue and cheek affection as deadly serious desperation. 'Until I See Her Again' is a kind of cosmic drinking song needing only a change to waltz time, a clump of raised glasses, and a chorus of drunken singers to transform itself into a full blown Irish ballad.
'Farewell Song' is a mono bootleg recorded on a forty dollar Radioshack hand-held recorder by the Heavy Love bassist at the time Ira Rosoff while rehearsing on Paris Mountain, South Carolina. Other band includes: John Byce (drums) and Mike Bagwell (Pedal Steel). The center-pieced to this volume arguably is the home-recording of 'Honey For You'. "I wrote 'Honey For You' with hundreds of verses originally each one going on to some other place," Berg explains. "I went all around the world, into the past, the future, nightmares, friend's houses...each versing starting with 'I have seen...". Eventually the song was narrowed down to a mere trinity of verses forming what Berg now describes as "...a song to a future wife perhaps...where someone says I have seen many things I could not understand as well as many turned truthes but I understand you. I commit to you." The most bare-bones performance on volume two is undoubtedly the re-discovered demo of 'Give Back My Heart' which combines a lilting slow dance tempo with a tidal wave of uncontained emotion. Berg describes the song with a heavy but resilient grin, "Definitely a crying-in-your-beer kind of song. I know I did. I always kind of imagined some smoother, nicer country singer recording this song. This is the only version I have down on tape. Almost forgot about the song until I came across this demo recorded it sounds like the week I wrote it."
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