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Friday
May182018

Blossoming Time

Greetings Music Friends,

Finally! After having survived an exceptionally long winter, the arrival of blooming flowers and blossoming trees is much appreciated. Except for raging tree pollen allergies, this spring weather is a welcome relief from winter’s blast!

One of the good things about our Atlantic Northeast winters is that the cold weather offers the best excuse to stay inside and write or practice! That said, it is so worth it to venture out for music and adventure. I have had some wonderful musical opportunities lately and wanted to share them with you.

Most recently, the Singin’ Seniors had their Spring recital on Friday, May 11th

The Singin’ Seniors are a group of well–elderly citizens who are members of The Lenox Hill Senior Center, located on the lower level of St. Peter’s Church at 3rd Ave and East 53rd Street. I teach a vocal ensemble class with the help of accompanist, Clare Cooper, through the support of Feel The Music, a non-profit organization founded by friend and fellow songwriter, Valerie Ghent. We offer three vocal ensemble sessions during the year and take the summer months off.

The Singin’ Seniors performed eight great songs on Friday, complete with harmonies, counter melodies, and a band! Marc Daine joined us on guitar, Steve Marks on bass, and Gary Fritz on percussion.

Here is the set list: Hello Mary Lou, A Kiss to Build a Dream On, You’re the Top, With A Little Help from My Friends, Teach Your Children, Dance Me To The End of Love, Everyday People, Dream a Little Dream of Me.

I am very proud of the Singin’ Seniors and wish them good health and a wonderful summer!

In February, over President’s Day weekend, I traveled to the Pacific Northwest for a fantastic PSGW winter music retreat.  Singing, writing and playing music with wonderful friends and fellow musicians filled our days, nights and wee hours. I had a blast!  And after music retreat, I finally made it to Wintergrass!  Wintergrass is a huge Bluegrass convention held annually in Bellevue, WA, where, besides hearing great performances of vital bluegrass musicians, I met and jammed with a group of fantastic women (including good buddy, Rachael Snyder) who are involved with the non-profit organization, The Handsome Ladies. This fabulous group is dedicated to bringing bluegrass music jams to a ladies-only playing population. They’ve got over 300 members across the country, and they host monthly Ladies’ jams in five different towns. Watch this space for info about a possible New York City area jam!

 

After the total immersion of music retreat, Mike flew to Seattle to meet me for a visit with my Berg family north of Seattle. That is always a special time. At the ripe old age of 97, my father, Darrel Berg, is hanging in there.  He’ll tell you, some days are better than others, but his attitude is unwavering. He is always so glad to have his family visit. We drink coffee in the morning and talk, talk, talk and read the paper and discuss various topics, his favorites are baseball teams from his childhood (1938 Chicago Cubs) the justice activism that I'm participating in, and updates on his McCarthy grandchildren (Dan is a first mate on a tugboat in the New York Harbor and Keenan is graduating from IYRS in Newport RI in two weeks)! He likes to say, “You gotta be good to be lucky”.  That motto seems to have carried him through life!  I ❤️ my Dad!

 

A Bunch of Bergs!, niece Ursula, me, Darrel and brother Bruce

 

Per usual, Middle Church Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir has been very active this year and I have been busy singing and practicing civil rights with them!

In the beginning of 2018, on January 20th, we marched in NYC from 72nd and Central Park West to 6th Ave and 42nd Street, in the 2nd annual Women’s March, joining in solidarity with thousands of other State wide marches, to once again, support the rights of women; equal pay, fair wages, a woman’s right to choose, affordable health care, work based child care, affordable legal aid … and the list goes on. That was quite a day.  
 

Photo by Peter Calderon

On March 11, a group of us sang in front of one of Wendy’s corporate offices on Park Avenue to protest unfair wages and to offer support to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a worker-based human rights organization based in Florida. Dave, you should know better! Cheaply purchased, below-wage lettuce prices for your franchise is not worth a legal battle! Fair pay and better conditions for fair work hours and quota.

And again, on March 24, gospel choir sang and marched to support gun control awareness with a huge crowd of inter-generational Americans with March For Our Lives, organized by students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida who were themselves victims of a brutal gun-toting rampage of a fellow student.  Among the songs we sang were Down By The Riverside, Give Peace a Chance, and Rich Man’s House.

 

On Easter, at Middle Church, I soloed on the beautiful gospel song, “The Storm is Passing Over.” Is there ever a time in our lives when we do not welcome an opening in the proverbial clouds to see the sun finally shine through? “Take courage, my soul, and let us journey on, though the night is dark and I am far from home” …

Photo by Patrick Mulcahy

I was not scheduled to sing the solo. I was not listed in the church bulletin. But at choir practice, director John del Cueto asked me to improvise at the end of the song. It was more a spontaneous improvisation than a solo— I couldn’t say exactly what was coming out of my mouth! But I felt a positive charge and a lot of good Easter energy coming through me as I improvised. To me it felt like the whole room was breathing.

The song starts around 30 minutes into the video at this link!

On April 16, I sang backup for the boldly talented Madge Dietrich in,“The Year of Madgical Thinking,” a benefit for Middle Church’s LGBTQ Ministry and Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Youth. With musical director Drew Wutke on piano, Basssik on bass, Jeremy Price on Hammond organ, and John Del Cueto and I singing backing vocals.

In the club scene world, I had the pleasure of singing the lush harmonies of Monica Passin’s beautiful CD, “Monette” with Monica Passin and Sherryl Marshall twice—at both Cornelia Street Café off of Bleecker Street and also at the legendary Treehouse at 2A in the East Village. 

Also in April, girlfriend Sherryl Marshall and the Girleens (including me!) had a great time back at Tom Clark’s Treehouse at 2A. Sherryl’s songs are soulful and solid, groove-based and quirky and very fun to sing! With Elise Morris, Tricia Scotti, Stephanie Seymour and band mates, Charlie Giordano, Paul Pimsler, Lincoln Schleifer, and Fred Wolcott. What a hoot!

Photo by Jessy Dunn

I have booked some time in the recording studio this summer to record a few new tunes! In my opinion, recording is one of the most wonderful experiences a musician can have. It is quality time specifically set aside to work on and create the tone and mood and message of the song. Each songwriter has their own unique expression. Listening back to what was recorded is confirmation of who we are and what we do.  Chris Tedesco on violin, Richard Hammond on bass, and Charlie Giordano on accordion are joining me, on acoustic rhythm guitar, to find the groove and lay down basic tracks at Grand Street Recording in Williamsburg, with the fabulous Ken Rich producing.

I know, no drums.  What has happened to my rock and roll roots??

 

Portrait of Renie McFee, my new Goodall guitar!


More to come! Thanks for listening!

Love to you,
xxx
Deborah

Wednesday
Feb142018

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day, Dear Ones!

We have survived January’s five Mondays and two full moons and are now rocketing through February and beyond! Today I am heading out to the Pacific Northwest for a lovely, low key music retreat in the woods at the camp where PSGW holds its summer sessions. Afterwards I will be visiting my PNW Berg family, including Darrel, my 97-year-old Dad!

Sunday, January 28, was a very musical day. I sang with the Middle Church Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir as part of an evening called "Spiritual Sounds of the East Village," an annual evening of collective celebration amongst a radically diverse group of faith traditions. Over 12 different communities of faith joined this year! It’s always a profound event, and this year felt especially so. It was a great gift, to be received and encouraged to share your faith with others who are both like you and not like you but who somehow walk the same path. Good medicine for our divisive times.

After that, I hustled over to The Treehouse at 2A for The Field of Stars Great Harmony Swap: It’s A Musical! We covered some classics and some of the more obscure songs of musical theater that night. With the remote help of PSGW buddy, Alison Pollowitz, I worked out a bossanova arrangement of "On The Street Where You Live," and asked the legendary Fausto Bozza to solo with his beautiful jazz swing guitar. It was a wonderfully fun and eclectic night of music. I was so happy to share it with so many other colorful and talented local musicians!


This year's Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday service at Middle Collegiate Church was powerfully dynamic. Gospel Choir sang a protest song, arranged by our director, John del Cueto, called "Rich Man's House” with the refrain "Ain't gonna let the system walk all over me." We are here in solidarity, our voices of resistance will be heard. We the people will not be ignored. Elizabeth Stanley also sang solo on the beautiful devotional song, "My Help."

Ruby Sales spoke with Rev. Jacqui after the service at Art & Soul. She spoke about her vast experiences with civil rights, starting as a 17-year-old activist in the South in the 60s. She urges women to look beyond the existing glass ceiling of class and gender roles and build a whole new roof! Every minute of their talk is incredible; you can watch it here.

So that was January and half of February!

Along with singing in gospel choir, March will find me continuing to practice, write, and arrange songs on guitar and with my small but mighty trio, Chris Tedesco and Charlie Giordano.

My good buddy Sherryl Marshall and I will be singing backup for fellow NYC songwriter, Monica Passin at Cornelia Street Cafe to promote her newest CD, "Monette":

Thursday, March 1, 2018
Cornelia Street Cafe
8pm

________

Also on March 1st, the Singin’ Seniors will be starting up their spring 2018 session - our 13th together! I lead a vocal ensemble group with our illustrious piano accompanist, Clare Cooper. The Singin’ Seniors are a group of well-elderly senior citizens who are frequenters of The Lenox Hill Senior Center in midtown Manhattan at St. Peter’s Church. Through the non-profit organization, Feel The Music, classes are offered in vocal ensemble and hand drumming! Feel the Music’s director, Valerie Ghent, is a NYC musician herself and has made quite a stir in France with her new CD, "Velours."

Thank you for your interest in my corner of the world! I hope you are well. I love hearing from you!

Wishing you love and happiness!

Love,
xxx
Deborah

Thursday
Oct262017

Keep on Turnin'

Greetings friends!

Like Tina Turner sings in "Proud Mary," those big wheels keep on turning, and just like that, the days get shorter, the nights get cooler and autumn rolls on in.

Here in NYC the weather may change, but the music stays playing, and Monica Passin’s Field of Stars this Sunday night is upon us! This event happens every last Sunday of the month at The Treehouse at 2A, a cozy upstairs music club with a small but stocked cocktail bar and a great soundman - the one and only Tom Clark!

This Sunday, October 29th, I am first up at 8:30pm with a 40 minute set! That is a lot of time! Which is good because I have four new songs to play for you! Plus a few other new-ish songs that some of you may recognize from past gigs.

Next up will be the fabulous and lovely Sherryl Marshall and then, to finish out the evening of women songwriters, our hostess with the mostest, Monica Passin!   

Please come and enjoy a night of groovy goodliness.  Adding musical tastes, flavors and backing vocals are stellar guests, Charlie Giordano, Stephanie Seymour, and Chris Tedesco.

Sunday, October 29
8:30-11:00pm
The Treehouse at 2A - upstairs

25 Avenue A at 2nd Street
Cover - Pass the Bucket!

The Singing Seniors and I started our classes again on October 12th, accompanied by the illustrious Clare Cooper. On the song docket this season so far are: "Can’t Get Used to Losing You" (Doc Pomus), "Islands in the Stream" (Bee Gees), "Fields of Gold" (Sting), "On The Street Where You Live" (Lerner & Loewe from “My Fair Lady”), "I Won't Back Down" (Tom Petty), and "Jambalaya" (Hank Williams).

We are gearing up for a December 15th recital at the Lenox Hill Senior Center at 54th and Lexington on the lower level of St Peter’s Church. 1:00pm. Come on down! Take the 6 Train to 51st Street, easy as pie!

Going back in time a bit now…

JUNE
In June, we celebrated Mike’s 70th birthday on the beach. The photo to the right was snapped just after the more formal photo. Ebet baked a lovely checkerboard cake and then the kids decorated it. It was delicious!

AUGUST

Being part of the teaching staff at Puget Sound Guitar Workshop this summer was a true honor. I taught songwriting and stagecraft and lucked out with wonderful students who inspired me with their creativity, enthusiasm, and dedication to their craft. Two stagecraft students -- strangers before the week of camp -- even played a gig together in their shared hometown the week after!

With Phylis and DarrelNot for nothing, the directors of PSGW, Janet Peterson and Peter Langston received the 2017 Folk Alliance Region -- Best of the West Award for outstanding leadership and coordination! Visiting my dear dad and his lovely wife, Phylis, is always the very best way to round out my time in the beautiful PNW. 

SEPTEMBER
It’s a good thing I went to Dusty Strings in Seattle after camp, with Jeff and Teresa Nelson and found a wonderful Goodall guitar there! I played about a dozen guitars there but kept sitting down with the one I finally purchased. I went back the next day and they wrapped it up and shipped it to me. It has a wonderful tone and plays like a dream.

My New Goodall

My wonderful 1993 Perry Bechtel Martin OM-28 guitar needed a bit of TLC, so I took it to the Martin guitar factory for some serious bodywork. I would highly recommend taking a drive out to Nazareth, PA, and taking the tour of the factory.  I'll bet you know what Band song I was singing in the car…

It's my loyal work horse guitar and I will still travel with it when I fly anywhere. It too has a beautiful sound and will soon play smoothly again. I love talking about guitars. Can you tell?

After a summer sojourn, Gospel Choir is back! Middle Collegiate Church at 7th Street and Avenue A. Last week, I sang the solo on a wonderful song by Margaret Douroux called “One More Day.” Sometimes the simpler the message, the better.

I am proud to report, in honor of the 16th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, my song “Fly Now” aired on Women of Substance Radio.

For the first time, I visited the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in mid-September when my Berg family was in town. Some of you may know that back in 2001, I became the “flower lady” at the Ladder 3 firehouse on East 13th Street.  I took care of the flowers at the front of the firehouse that were left by friends and neighbors for the days, weeks, and months after the attack. I was so moved to see Ladder 3’s fire truck in the museum. I have saved newspaper articles and photos from that Flower Lady time with the intention to make a photo book of that indescribable year of service at Ladder 3.
NEVER FORGET

OCTOBER
Mike and I took a wonderful road trip up to Rhode Island and Maine.  Visiting Keenan in Newport is always fun.  Portland is an awesome city and Acadia National Park outside Bar Harbor is spectacular! Imagine hiking along the craggy cliffs of the Maine coast with its rugged treeline, breathing clean, crisp air. Ahhh, Nature! We must have eaten our weight in lobster, along with some lobster laksa -- a Malaysian curry base noodle soup, done up Maine style. So delicious! 

I was absolutely heartbroken to hear the news of Tom Petty’s sudden death. I resonated with his music so much that I felt as if we were close personal friends. Looking back through the years, so many memories seem to have a Tom Petty song as their soundtrack. The first Tom Petty song I covered was in 1977 in San Francisco, where I sang “Refugee” with Random Walk, a cover band I was in briefly between Contact dance rehearsals.

On October 15th, I joined a group of musicians at the 12th Street Bar & Grill in Park Slope, Brooklyn, at the Radigan Roundup, headed by Terry Radigan, for an evening dedicated to the music of Tom Petty. A dozen or so musicians performed their favorite Tom Petty songs (I sang “I Won’t Back Down”) and took heart in the legacy he has left us. It was so moving, I did not want the evening to end.
xxx R.I.P. T.P. xxx

That’s it for now, Thanks so much for reading all this and giving a rat’s ass!

Take care, be well and may peace be with you!

Love,

xxx,

Deborah

Thursday
Aug102017

Off to Teach at Puget Sound Guitar Workshop

Photo by Mikelle SaccoHello friends,


Reporting live from the Pacific Northwest, where I've spent one week as a student at Puget Sound Guitar Workshop and one week visiting family and friends, while also prepping for two classes that I will return to PSGW to teach beginning on Saturday!  

I am honored to be on the PSGW teaching staff during week 3.

I'll be offering two classes: Songwriters Unite! and The Nuts and Bolts of Stagecraft.

This marks my 21st year attending music camp outside of Seattle. Every year, the camp experience fills me with gratitude and respect for many things, in particular the tireless and detail-oriented directors, Janet Peterson and Peter Langston, the rustic location, a UCC conference center with cabins, lodge, and dance floor, a generous, hard-working and good natured staff, the extraordinary and patient teachers, and my talented fellow students. There seems to be a laugh around every corner and musical happiness blooms daily under the tall pines.  It's truly my musical home away from home.

Photo of Brian BechtelMy intention is to share what I know through the classes I am offering, but mostly to listen and coach songwriters and performing artists to continue finding their voices, open their hearts, and deliver a musical message that others can feel right down to their toes. Having fun is a major component! It has been wonderful spending time out West. Friendships, family, and musical moments make up my idea of heaven.

I hope wherever you are, you are finding your version of heaven, too!

Thank you for your support and encouragement in my life-long love of musical pursuits. Some of us go back a very long time! How cool is that?! We continue to share our lives and make new memories together, and for that, I am truly grateful.

Be well!

Love to you in August,
xxx
Deborah

Wednesday
Apr192017

Springing All Over The Place

I tell ya -- when it rains, it pours!

From Easter Sunday at Middle Collegiate Church to three backing vocal gigs, this week is a flood of wonderful music with great musicians!

Here are the two shows coming up this week that you can come find me at:

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19
Cliff Westfall and Li’l Mo (Monica Passin)
The 11th Street Bar
510 E 11th Street, NYC
9 p.m.

I'm proud to be both singing with BOTH bands on this bill. I'll be singing backup for Li'l Mo (with Sherryl Marshall on harmonies), and I’m doing a duet with Cliff at the 11th Street Bar, so come on by.

SUNDAY, APRIL 23
Sherita and The Girleens
The Treehouse at 2A
25 Avenue A, NYC
8:30 p.m.

Come see Sherita and The Girleens (Sherryl Marshall with Stephanie Seymour, Deborah Berg McCarthy, Leslie Wagner, Emily Bindiger, Elise Morris, and Tricia Scotti) singing their hearts out for all of you. Featuring the fabulous band: Charles Giordano, Fred Walcott, Lincoln Schleifer, and Paul Pimsler.

We love Tom Clark and the Treehouse and are happy to be playing there. Get there early, have a few drinks, and enjoy the music!

~ ~ ~

My Easter Sunday was bookended with singing! First, I had the great honor of singing a solo with the Middle Collegiate Church Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir on "Mary Don't You Weep" at Easter Sunday services this week.

Full disclosure: I haven't watched this video yet. The message — the power of faith and the power of community — and experience of singing this song with the choir truly transported me, so it's very strange to see that from the outside after having experienced it from the inside!

I hope this gives you a taste of how it was in the sanctuary on Sunday!


That night, I headed to the Treehouse at 2A for Tom Clark’s “Tribute to Jesus: A Night Celebrating our Favorite Hippie.” I got to soak in some fun covers of Jesus-themed songs, and I contributed an acoustic version of “Long as I Got King Jesus” and my take on Kris Kristofferson’s “Why Me Lord.”

 ~ ~ ~

This Thursday, the next round of Singing Seniors starts up at the Lenox Hill Senior Center.

And on Sunday, my song “Wild” — an old favorite from “Places Where I Dream” — enters rotation over at Women of Substance Radio. I’ll share more details when I have them!

Many good wishes to you!

xxx

Deborah