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Tyler Childers

Whiskey soaked folk tunes

Tyler Childers

Eddie Berman, Senora May

Tue, August 15

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Doug Fir Lounge

Portland, OR

$10.00 - $12.00

This event is 21 and over

Tyler Childers
Tyler Childers
Like many great Southern storytellers, singer-songwriter Tyler Childers has fallen in love with a place. The people, landmarks and legendary moments from his childhood home of Lawrence County, Kentucky, populate the 10 songs in his formidable debut, Purgatory, an album that's simultaneously modern and as ancient as the Appalachian Mountains in which events unfold.

The album, co-produced by Grammy Award winners Sturgill Simpson and David Ferguson, is a semiautobiographical sketch of Childers' growth from wayward youth to happily married man, told in the tradition of a Southern gothic novel with a classic noir antihero who may just be irredeemable. Purgatory is a chiaroscuro painting with darkness framing light in high relief. There's catharsis and redemption. Sin and temptation. Murder and deceit. Demons and angels. Moonshine and cocaine. So much moonshine and cocaine. All played out on the large, colorful canvas of Eastern Kentucky.

Childers had been searching for a certain sound for his debut album for years as he honed his craft, and was finding it elusive when his friend, drummer Miles Miller, introduced him to Simpson, the Grammy Award-winning musician and fellow Kentuckian. Childers sent Simpson a group of his songs, then went to visit him in Nashville.

"And he said, 'There's this sound. I know what you're trying to get at, the mountain sound,'" Childers recalled. "'So I asked, 'What are you doing?'"

Intrigued, Simpson enlisted the aid of Ferguson, the Grammy Award winning sound engineer. They assembled a band that included multi-instrumentalists Stuart Duncan, Michael J. Henderson and Russ Pahl, bassist Michael Bub and Miller on drums, of course, and helped Childers make a debut album of consequence that announces an authentic new voice.

"I was writing an album about being in the mountains," Childers said. "I wanted it to have that gritty mountain sound. But at the same time, I wanted a more modern version of it that a younger generation can listen to -- the people I grew up with, something I'd want to listen to."
Eddie Berman
Eddie Berman
The title of singer-songwriter Eddie Berman’s new album, Before the Bridge, refers to the period of time in the LA-based musician’s life between getting married and the birth of his first child. It was that span, spent mulling the decision (and consequences) of creating a life, that also inspired this crowning musical work. The album was written and recorded during that one-year interim, as Berman was coming down from the crest of his lauded 2014 self-released debut LP, Polyhymnia. The songs on Before the Bridge draw, more than ever before, from Berman’s own life experiences, resulting in a rich, evocative, and moving collection.

“My wife and I were being confronted with the somewhat unknowable complexities of trying to bring a life into the world—and specifically into the little sphere of our lives, living in Los Angeles in 2016,” Berman says. “My writing falls between being autobiographical, narrative, and a bit obtuse—but each of these songs were certainly informed by my own life.”

Berman grew up in Southern California and taught himself guitar and piano. He fell in love with the troubadour styles of Bob Dylan and Dave Van Ronk as a teenager and learned to fingerpick on his father’s 1950s Martin guitar, first writing his own songs as a college student at Berkeley. He made waves in the acoustic music world half a decade ago when his bedroom demos were given significant airplay on influential LA radio station KCRW. In 2013 his EP Blood & Rust, featuring duets with British artist Laura Marling, along with his subsequent international tours, connected him to an even bigger audience. All the while, Berman steadily developed his craft while staying true to a familiar formula.

Despite an open-tuning change and adding a bit more percussion and harmony, the sound of Before the Bridge retains the stark, elemental power of Berman’s former work. “I love the sound of just a person with their instrument and their voice,” Berman says. “That’s always been what’s spoken to me the most.” In addition to that foremost calling card, the album was recorded with his same crew of expert musicians from Polyhymnia: Gabe Feenberg, Gabe Davis, Sarah Pigion, and Polly Hall, with engineer/mixer Pierre De Reeder—and in the same manner: tracked live, together in a single room, in only two days.

The first song Berman wrote and completed for the album is the stark and lovely “Joann,” with its lilting harmonies and melodic, reverberating finger-picking. In addition to being the first release from the album, the track also represents for Berman the core of what Bridge is all about, as the song shares its name with his wife—well, almost. “When I was writing the chorus, the three-syllable ‘Joanna’ just didn’t quite work. So I feel like: glass half-full I wrote a song for my wife, glass half-empty: I got her name wrong.”

Another standout track, “Untamed,” is a soft and slow-burning number led by Berman’s guitar and confident, quiet vocal delivery, and accented by piano notes and low, stirring strings. In Berman’s finger-picking style, the song ends with the delicate delivery of the line “We’ll know we were alive once and at least for a moment untamed.” Like “Joann” before it, he identifies the sentiment as one examining the notion of modernity closing in on them.

“It’s about the strange isolation of a metropolis, which is only getting intensified by people being sucked further and further into this dystopian obsession with media, paired with the feelings of wanting to escape it, but not knowing how or where or if that’s even possible anymore.”

“Easy Rider” is a toe-tapping, steady strum through some of Berman’s most assured vocals to date. Piano rolls trickle throughout and as Berman’s smoky voice is joined by his backing crowd in the “Come on, you easy rider” refrain, it’s easy to imagine the song filling some lamplit cabin in deep woods or floating out of your car stereo as you drive up the coast.

Steeped among its moments of direct beauty and questioning laments, Bridge is filled with sly nods and thoughtful references—take the minor keyed, yet upbeat, cautionary track “Tarmac Blues,” the title itself an anagram for a favorite philosopher/writer. Berman allows that his songwriting is quite dense, and he relishes the chance to inject his wit and thoughtful observations into his lines. By the time the album ends with the gorgeous, fiddle-laden “My Will Be Done” and its farewell delivery (“So love me just enough to miss me, but not enough to track me down”), it’s clear that there is as much to enjoy in Berman’s well-crafted lyrics as there is in his instrumental prowess.

And so we have Before the Bridge, a triumphant take on a familiar foray from an accomplished singer-songwriter encouraged by a decision to rise to the challenges of creation.
Senora May
Senora May is a Kentucky based singer-songwriter.