Oct. 1: David Berkeley w/ Rachel Ries

@ The Falls Church Episcopal
115 E. Fairfax St., Falls Church
8 pm (doors at 7:30 pm)
Tickets


"Berkeley sings in a lustrous melancholy voice with shades of Tim Buckley and Nick Drake.... As his melodies ascend to become benedictions and consolations, the music shimmers and peals." - Jon Pareles, New York Times

"A performance from David Berkeley is always an intimate and contemplative one, rich with vivid lyrics and passionate yet understated vocals. Despite his studio albums' success, there's something particularly special about hearing the singer-songwriter's work performed live" - Paste

It began with the brontosaurus. While living in California several years ago, David Berkeley came across a strange sculpture of a dinosaur in front of an otherwise handsome home. "It was a pretty unattractive piece of lawn art," the critically acclaimed singer/songwriter/author remembers. "But it spun me into thinking about people's different appreciation of beauty. I began imagining a story about an eccentric guy who is totally taken by this thing. Maybe the people in the house happen to be getting rid of it (understandably), and so this man takes it home." 

From this seed an adventure grew, culminating in Berkeley's latest achievement: a set of interwoven stories offered in his second book, The Free Brontosaurus, and a batch of accompanying songs on his sixth studio album, Cardboard Boat. The songs are sung from the perspective of each story's main character. The releases are a rare compliment to each other, but with a degree in literature from Harvard, over a decade of touring under his belt and a stage show that melds profound songs and hilarious anecdotes, Berkeley is uniquely positioned to bbe able to pull off such an ambitious project.

Berkeley has amassed a dedicated and widespread following who fully funded the creation of this new album and book. He's been a guest on This American Life, Mountain Stage, World Café, CNN, XM Radio's Loft Sessions, WFUV, NPR's Acoustic Café and many more. He won the 2015 Kerrville New Folk competition and ASCAP's Johnny Mercer Songwriting Award. Called "a musical poet" by the San Francisco Chronicle, "sensational" by the Philadelphia Inquirer and "spellbinding" by Blurt, critics praise Berkeley's carefully crafted philosophic lyrics and soulful baritone, which at one moment resonates richly only to swoop into a fragile falsetto in the next.

Though he now calls Santa Fe home, where he lives with his wife and two young sons, his explorations have taken him from busking in Harvard Square to the mountains of Corsica, from the back roads of Alaska to the crowds of New York City. Each port of call opened him to new experiences, as a public school teacher in Brooklyn, a river rafting guide in Idaho and, always, a chronicler of life as he observed and embraced it.



Daughter of Mennonite missionaries, Rachel Ries -- opening for Berkeley -- hails from the inspiring, vast expanses of South Dakota, by way of Zaire. Her formative years were filled with Congolese spirituals, Mennonite hymns, Suzuki violin and The Carpenters. Currently splitting her time between rural Vermont and New York City, Rachel crafts sly and compassionate songs for the crooked hearted. With an electric guitar, clear voice and steady hand, she pulls the listener into her world of city grit, country dirt, and her open-eyed search for redemption and reason. Her songs are fine-tuned delicacy with a snarl and disarming candor. Proudly carrying the torch of her love for the domestic arts, Rachel's homemade preserves and hand-stitched notebooks can often be found at shows, nestled amid the 180 gram vinyl, cds and t-shirts.

Rachel, returning from a years-long hiatus, released her third long player, Ghost of a Gardener last winter. Her voice at times echoes that of Regina Spektor or early Maria Muldaur and this new album is full of thoughtful and inventive arrangements. Fingerpicked melodicism pairs with sweeping strings & analog synths while a Merle Haggard-style drinking song struts with trumpets and close knit harmonies. The album, produced by Ries along with Secretly Canadian artist David Vandervelde, also includes Emmett Kelly (Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Cairo Gang), Gregory Alan Isakov, Evan Bivins (Cary Ann Hearst, Duncan Sheik), members of Brooklyn's Cuddle Magic, strings from RSVQ and long-time bandmate Ariel Bolles.

Since 2008's Country EP, a split 45" with Anaïs Mitchell released on Righteous Babe Records, Ries ("reese") has recorded and toured extensively with Mitchell, supporting Bon Iver and others. In addition to Mitchell, Rachel has recorded and collaborated with Jeremy Messersmith and Gregory Alan Isakov, who appears on Ghost. She was granted a Chicago Arts award in 2010, worked in Chicago theatre, toured Europe and the States, learned how to repair Wurlitzers and (kind of) play the drums.