Chris Bergson (Musician)

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Chris Bergson
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Born (1976-05-24) May 24, 1976 (age 44)
New York
Occupation(s)
  • Guitarist
  • singer
  • songwriter
Associated actsChris Bergson Band
Websitehttp://www.chrisbergson.com

Chris Bergson (Born May 24, 1976 in New York, New York) is an internationally acclaimed American born guitarist, singer and songwriter. Hailed as "the New York street poet with a blues soul" (MOJO)[1] and "one of the most inventive songwriters in modern blues music," (All Music Guide)[2] Bergson is best known as the leader of the Chris Bergson Band. Elmore Magazine calls the Chris Bergson Band "one of the most talented bands playing today...From blazing rock to funk to soul to Delta blues and all that's in between."[3] Chris Bergson is also an accomplished sideman who has performed with luminaries across a wide range of genres including Pop/Rock (Norah Jones, Levon Helm), Blues/Soul (Hubert Sumlin, Bernard Purdie), and Jazz (Annie Ross, Al Foster and Matt Wilson (jazz drummer) Matt Wilson.) The Chris Bergson Band’s 2007 album Fall Changes, recorded at The Band drummer Levon Helm’s studio in Woodstock, New York, was named MOJO Magazine’s Number One Blues Album of the Year in 2008[4] by blues scholar Tony Russell. Chris Bergson was inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame[5] as a Master Blues Artist in 2015.

Early Life

Chris Bergson was born in New York, New York. In 1979, his family moved to Boston, Massachusetts before eventually settling in Somerville, Massachusetts. Bergson began taking guitar lessons when he was 7 years old. "On Chris Bergson’s tenth birthday, his parents gave the young guitar prodigy a pile of record albums. They included Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf’s Muddy and the Wolf, the Waters, Mike Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield and Otis Spann collaboration, Fathers and Sons, a Thelonious Monk disc and a couple of albums by Miles Davis. Bergson, who started taking classical guitar lessons at the age of seven, had just learned the modern blues scale so he could play along with Muddy and copy some Bloomfield riffs. “Hearing all that music at the same time had a really powerful effect on me,” he said." (Kay Cordtz, "Chris Bergson: Singer/Songwriter, Guitarist, Husband, Father Is Living His Dream," Roll Magazine[6], January 2018.)

Bergson began his professional career in Boston, Massachusetts playing in Boston area rock clubs at the age of 13.

In 1995, Bergson moved back to New York City and studied privately with jazz guitarist Jim Hall (musician) Jim Hall. From 1996-1999, Bergson attended Manhattan School of Music where he studied guitar with Rodney Jones (guitarist)Rodney Jones and Jack Wilkins before graduating in 1999 with a Bachelor of Music degree.

1990's

While attending Manhattan School of Music, Bergson began freelancing as a guitarist on the New York City jazz scene.

In 1996, Bergson recorded his debut album, Blues For Some Friends of Mine (Juniper Records) featuring bassist Dwayne Burno and drummer Greg Bandy. "With his first release, Bergson proves himself ready for the big time," Jim Fisch wrote in 20th Century Guitar Magazine[7].

In 1997, Bergson recorded with legendary jazz vocalist Annie Ross on her album Cool For Kids (Juniper Records.)

In the Spring of 1999, Bergson landed a steady gig at Vintage, a lounge in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen, where he led a trio two nights a week backing up singers including Norah Jones, Sasha Dobson and Dena DeRose.

2000's

In 2001, Bergson recorded a collaborative album Reunion of Souls with guitarist Sheryl Bailey and drummer Sunny Jain (Pure Music Records)

In 2002, Chris Bergson was appointed a Jazz Ambassador of the United States of America by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the U.S. State Department and toured 8 countries in West Africa giving concerts and workshops.

In 2003, Bergson performed at New York City's Blue Note Jazz Club and recorded the EP, Blues, live at Smoke (jazz club)Smoke Jazz Club with organist Brian Charette and drummer Matt Wilson (jazz drummer)Matt Wilson.

In 2004, the Chris Bergson Band performed at Joe's Pub in New York City sharing the bill with acclaimed soul singer Ellis Hooks with whom Bergson would go on to collaborate and tour extensively in the next decade.

In 2004, the Chris Bergson Band with saxophonist Jay Collins, bassist Chris Berger and drummers Matt Wilson (jazz drummer)Matt Wilson or Tony Mason were featured as Artists-in-Residence at New York City's Jazz Standard performing every Monday night in the Fall of 2004. "We were able to really develop as a band and that’s when I really started writing,” Bergson explained to writer Kay Cordtz in her profile of Bergson for Roll Magazine[8]. “We recorded the album, Another Day right at the end of our residency. It documented the tunes that we had been playing every week, and that was really the start of the Chris Bergson Band." Bergson credits the influence of The Band’s music for inspiring “High Above the Morning,” the first of seven original songs he wrote for Another Day."

In October 2006, the Chris Bergson Band recorded their first full length album, Fall Changes at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, New York. The band included saxophonist Jay Collins, keyboardist Bruce Katz and drummer Tony Leone with Helm's daughter, Amy Helm, guesting on a few tunes. It was at these sessions that Levon Helm first heard Bergson play and Helm invited Bergson to play with his band at his celebrated Midnight Ramble concerts at his home in Woodstock. Bergson is one of the artists included in photographer Paul LaRaia's book, The Levon Helm Midnight Ramble[9]. Fall Changes was released in October 2007 and received rave reviews including Living Blues[10] magazine hailing Bergson as "a serious talent." As Blues scholar Tony Russell wrote in his four star review of the album for Mojo (magazine)Mojo[11], "One of the major themes in blues is a sense of place, and this band lay down their local credentials in the opening track about a Brooklyn neighborhood, Gowanus Heights. The catchy melody, stabbing horns and fervent vocal also establish that these guys could strip down the engine of a soulbluesmobile and put it back together blindfold." Fall Changes went on to be named MOJO's Number One Blues Album of the Year in 2008 by Tony Russell.

In 2006, Chris Bergson opened for Etta James at B.B. King's Blues Club in New York City.

In 2008, the Chris Bergson Band performed at the Kaslo Summer Music Festival in Kaslo, British Columbia, Canada where they backed John P. Hammond.

In 2009 Bergson joined the guitar faculty of New York City's 92nd Street Y School of Music.

In March 2009, Bergson performed at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas.

In May 2009, the Chris Bergson Band toured in Europe for the first time including performances at Holland's Moulin Blues Festival in Ospel, Netherlands and Rhythm and Blues Night in Groningen, Netherlands.

In August 2009, Bergson performed with Howlin' Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock, New York along with keyboardist Bruce Katz and drummer Randy Ciarlante.

2010's

In 2010, the Chris Bergson Band including keyboardist Bruce Katz toured Europe including performances at Norway's Blues in Hell Festival and Ireland's Harvest Time Blues Festival.

Upon their return from Europe, the band recorded their third studio album, Imitate the Sun, at Brooklyn's Excello Recording with Hugh Pool engineering. Released in 2011, the album featured tenor saxophonist Jay Collins, keyboardist Bruce Katz, bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Tony Leone as well as a horn section arranged by Jay Collins with trumpeter Kenny Rampton and baritone saxophonist Chris Karlic. "Upon first hearing guitar man Chris Bergson and his gravely southern drawl, which is a combination of Levon Helm and Gregg Allman, you can hardly believe this guy is from New York City," wrote No Depression's Rick Bowen in his review of the album. "Imitate the Sun displays an artist dedicated to bringing blues and classic R&B into the future while honoring the past."[12]

Imitate the Sun was named one of MOJO's Best Blues Albums of the Year[13] for 2011 by Tony Russell.

In 2012, Chris Bergson opened for B.B. King at B.B. King's Blues Club in New York City.

In 2013, Bergson began writing songs and performing with acclaimed soul singer Ellis Hooks.

In June 2013, the Chris Bergson Band recorded a live album over two nights at New York City's Jazz Standard club featuring Ellis Hooks guesting on two songs, keyboardist Craig Dreyer and a three piece horn section arranged by Jay Collins including trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, tenor saxophonist David Luther and baritone saxophonist Ian Hendrickson-Smith. The resulting album, 2014's Live at Jazz Standard, was recorded and co-produced by Roman Klun and went on to be named one of MOJO's Best Blues Albums of the Year[14] for 2014 by Tony Russell. As Tony Russell wrote in his review of the album for The Blues Magazine(UK)[15], "Over the past decade, Chris Bergson has become one of the most interesting blues-inspired songwriters. He describes the streetscapes and nightscapes of city life, painting small, memorable pictures, a kind of Edward Hopper of the blues. Bergson doesn't do predictable, but there's a visible thread of blues awareness running through the fabric of everything he writes, sings and plays: he is a concise and subtle guitarist and tough, grainy singer."

In June 2013, the Chris Bergson Band performed at the Saratoga Jazz Festival in Saratoga Springs, New York, playing right before Tony Bennett and Buddy Guy.

In November 2013, Bergson performed for the first time in France at the Nuit du Blues Festival in Chaumont with the French musicians bassist Philippe Dandrimont and drummer Pat Machenaud, who would go on to be part of his regular European touring band for the next six years.

In 2014, the Chris Bergson Band, with the addition of French keyboardist Philippe Billoin, toured in Holland, Belgium and Germany and performed at the largest blues festival in North America, the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, Oregon.

In February 2015, Chris Bergson was inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame[16] as a Master Blues Artist.

In April 2015, Bergson performed at France's Salaise Blues Festival followed by performances later that year in August at Belgium's Gevarenwinkel Festival and France's Blues en Loire Festival.

In 2016, the Chris Bergson Band recorded their fourth studio album, Bitter Midnight, at Brooklyn's Mighty Toad recording studio featuring Ellis Hooks, baritone saxophonist Jay Collins, trumpeter Steven Bernstein (musician) Steven Bernstein, bassists Andy Hess, Richard Hammond, and Matt Clohesy, drummers Aaron Comess and Tony Mason, and keyboardist/tenor saxophonist Craig Dreyer.

Bergson continued to tour extensively in Europe playing Spain's Burlada Blues Festival and Sweet Cotton Blues Festival, Belgium's Swing Wespelaar festival along with an extensive 24 date tour of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Bitter Midnight was released in 2017 and was named "Album of the Month" by Holland's Gitarist Magazine[17] and France's Soul Bag Magazine[18] as well as landing again on MOJO Magazine's year-end list of the Best Blues Albums of 2017[19]. Gitarist Magazine's Kevin Passman writes, "As we've come to expect from Bergson, Bitter Midnight is full of tasty, intuitive guitar work and passionate vocals but besides that, the album's also a triumph for his qualities as a composer. An absolute must for fans of blues, soul and southern rock."

In 2018, Bergson and Ellis Hooks toured in Europe together for the first time including playing France's Blues Party and Tracteur Blues Festival, Denmark's Fredericia Blues Festival and Germany's Ingolstadt Bluesfest. They also performed in Normandy at the Zenith de Caen stadium as part of the Backstage Blues Association's Nuit du Blues festival. Their performance was filmed and recorded and released in 2019 on CD and DVD as Live in Normandy. "Live albums don't get any better than this," wrote Jim Hynes in Glide Magazine[20]. "Bergson and Hooks are both clearly on the rise...Bergson and Hooks have become a modern-day blues-infused Sam and Dave."

In March 2019, Bergson performed with master drummer Bernard Purdie along with keyboardist Dave Keyes and they would begin performing as a co-led group with Ellis Hooks later that year.

In May 2019, Bergson performed for the first time in Russia at the Arkhangelsk Blues Festival.

In June 2019, the Chris Bergson Band celebrated the release of Live at Normandy at New York City's City Winery augmented by a horn section featuring tenor saxophonist Michael Blake.

In July 2019, the Chris Bergson Band featuring Ellis Hooks performed at France's oldest Blues festival, the Cahors Blues Festival.

Live in Normandy was named one of MOJO Magazine's Best Albums of 2019[21]. Soul Bag Magazine[22]'s Marc Loison wrote, "Far from blues-rock clichés and guitar demonstrations in vertiginous pyrotechnics, here are 12 live tracks as additional proof of the vitality and authenticity of a major artist on the New York scene. In perfect harmony with the splendid vocalist Ellis Hooks, guitarist-singer Chris Bergson is accompanied by a "French connection" of choice: Philippe Billoin (keyboards), Philippe Dandrimont (bass) and Patrick Machenaud (drums)...Superb!" Jos Verhagen wrote in his review of the album for The Blues Magazine[23] (Netherlands), "The music of Chris Bergson and Ellis Hooks is genuine Delta soul blues...The soulful voice of Hooks is reminiscent of the great soul men like Sam Cooke and Otis [Redding], and together with Chris he turns it into a true party."

Discography

Recordings as a leader

  • 2017 Chris Bergson Band - Bitter Midnight (2 Shirts Records / Continental Blue Heaven)
  • 2014 Chris Bergson Band - Live at Jazz Standard (2 Shirts Records / Innsbruck Records)
  • 2011 Chris Bergson Band - Imitate the Sun (2 Shirts Records / Bertus Distribution)
  • 2007 Chris Bergson Band - Fall Changes (2 Shirts Records / Bertus Distribution)
  • 2005 Chris Bergson Band - Another Day (2 Shirts Records)
  • 2003 Chris Bergson - Blues (2 Shirts Records)
  • 2000 Chris Bergson - Wait For Spring (Juniper Records)
  • 1997 Chris Bergson - Blues For Some Friends of Mine (Juniper Records)

Recordings as a co-leader

  • 2019 Chris Bergson and Ellis Hooks - Live in Normandy (2 Shirts Records / Continental Blue Heaven)
  • 2012 Chris Bergson & Neal Miner - Playdate (Gut String Records)

Recordings with other artists

  • 2018 Charlelie Couture - Même pas sommeil (Rue Bleue / Flying Boat)
  • 2017 Alexis P. Suter and the Ministers of Sound - Live at Briggs Farm (Briggs Farm Blues Records)
  • 2008 Jay Collins and the Kings County Band - The Songbird and the Pigeon (Sundown Recordings)
  • 2001 Sheryl Bailey - Reunion of Souls (Pure Music Records)
  • 2001 Annie Ross - Cool For Kids (Juniper Records)
  • 2001 Neal Miner - The Real Neal (Juniper Records)

References

  1. [cite journal last1=Tony first1=Russell title=Review journal=MOJO Magazine date=June 2014 issue=#247]
  2. Template:Cite web last1=Skelly first1=Richard title=Review url=https://www.allmusic.com/artist/chris-bergson-mn0000280091 website=All Music publisher=All Music Guide
  3. Template:Cite journal last1=Hynes first1=Jim title=Review journal=Elmore Magazine date=May-June 2014
  4. Template:Cite journal last1=Bergson first1=Chris title=Blues Album of the Year journal=Mojo Magazine date=January 2009 issue=182
  5. Template:Cite web last1=Bergson first1=Chris title=NY Blues Hall of Fame url=http://www.blueshalloffame.com/Local Blues Talent/Local Blues Talent of New York 2-11-15 BB Kings.html website=New York Blues Hall of Fame
  6. {{cite web last1=Cordtz first1=Kay title=Singer/Songwriter, Guitarist, Husband, Father Is Living His Dream url=http://www.rollmagazine.com/chris-bergson-singersongwriter-guitarist-husband-father-is-living-his-dream/ website=Roll Magazine publisher=Roll magazine}}
  7. Template:Cite journal last1=Fisch first1=Jim title=Reviews journal=20th Century Guitar Magazine date=July 1998
  8. {{cite web last1=Cordtz first1=Kay title=Chris Bergson: Singer/Songwriter, Guitarist, Husband, Father Is Living His Dream url=http://www.rollmagazine.com/chris-bergson-singersongwriter-guitarist-husband-father-is-living-his-dream/ website=www.rollmagazine.com publisher=Roll Magazine date=January 2018}}
  9. Template:Cite book last1=LaRaia first1=Paul title=The Levon Helm Midnight Ramble date=2009 publisher=Backbeat Books location=New York
  10. Template:Cite journal last1=Ruthenburg first1=Dave title=Fall Changes journal=Living blues date=February 2008 volume=39 issue=194
  11. Template:Cite journal last1=Russell first1=Tony title=Fall Changes journal=Mojo Magazine date=October 2008 issue=179
  12. Template:Cite web last1=Bowen first1=Rick title=Chris Bergson Band url=https://www.nodepression.com/chris-bergson-band-imitate-the-sun-cd-review/) website=No Depression date=August 2011
  13. Template:Cite journal last1=Russell first1=Tony title=Imitate the Sun journal=Mojo Magazine issue=218 date=January 2012
  14. Template:Cite journal last1=Russell first1=Tony title=Live at Jazz Standard journal=Mojo Magazine date=January 2015 issue=254
  15. Template:Cite journal last1=Russell first1=Tony title=Live at Jazz Standard journal=The Blues Magazine date=May 2014 issue=12
  16. Template:Cite web last1=Bergson first1=Chris title=NY Blues Artist url=http://www.blueshalloffame.com/Local Blues Talent/Local Blues Talent of New York 2-11-15 BB Kings.html website=NY Blues Hall of Fame date=February 2015
  17. Template:Cite journal last1=Passman first1=Kevin title=Album of the Month journal=Gitarist Magazine date=March 2017 issue=312
  18. Template:Cite journal last1=Loison first1=Marc title=Album of the Month journal=Soul Bag Magazine date=June 2017
  19. Template:Cite journal last1=Russell first1=Tony title=Best Blues Albums of 2017 journal=Mojo Magazine date=January 2018 issue=290
  20. Template:Cite web last1=Hynes first1=Jim title=Review url=https://glidemagazine.com/235398/chris-bergson-and-ellis-hooks-bring-their-magic-to-northern-france-on-live-in-normandy-album-review/ website=Glide Magazine publisher=Glide Magazine
  21. Template:Cite journal last1=Russell first1=Tony title=Best Albums of 2019 journal=Mojo Magazine date=January 2020 issue=313
  22. Template:Cite journal last1=Loison first1=Marc title=Best Albums of 2019 journal=Soul Bag Magazine date=September 2019
  23. Template:Cite web last1=Verhagen first1=Joe title=Live in Normandy url=https://www.bluesmagazine.nl/recensie-chris-bergson-and-ellis-hooks-live-in-normandy/ website=The Blues Magazine publisher=The Blues Magazine

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