Tuesday, January 31, 2017

10 new songs recorded to a single microphone in a back room somewhere in Florence, Alabama. 
Available for download at Bandcamp. Click here.

Video for the track "Garden House".

review by Jack Random (aka Ray Miller):


The first thing that comes to mind upon listening to Mystery Songs is the profound underlying presence of spirits in the house of poetry.  There be ghosts here and shadows rising from the earth, inhabiting the air and swimming in the water, haunting the blood and the bloodline of all sentient beings.  There is sentiment and memories and depth of feeling beyond the reach of mere mortals.

So many of these spirits are women with the strength to endure and thrive and rise like blooming flowers.  We feel the decay, the heartfelt mourning, the long decline before the rising.  Let your ghosts shine through.  Let the water be your blood.  The land, the Jimson Hollow, is who you are.  You cannot escape.  You can only drink and find the poet within your soul.  After a while you begin to glimpse the truth, the longing and the love.

Master poet Jake Berry has been working his chops, polishing his licks and it shows on this new solo work.  I love the down home feel and naked emotion of this work.  I believe it is a work of love, a tribute to the female seed of his soul, to the loves of his life, no doubt his mother, his grandmother and the woman who stands by his side through the ages, his loving wife.

Mystery Songs can never be solved but they give me hope that we can survive and thrive and grow despite the darkest days and the most haunting nights.

Thank you, once again, Mr. Berry, for yet another masterwork.


released March 14, 2016

Jake Berry - voices and guitars
photographs by Wayne Sides

Monday, July 30, 2012

Wilderness and Grace - Jake Berry

Now available at Bandcamp.

Listen to and download the digital version in the format of your choice, name your price (including $0). Download includes a 32 page digital booklet of lyrics, scans of the working lyric and chord charts, artwork and photos. The CD is available for $10 and includes a free download of the digital album and digital booklet.  Click here.

The video for the song "November". 

The video for the song "Starlings".


The shadow of the American Indian looms over many of these tracks and indeed over the work as a whole. For Jake Berry’s part of the world that shadow belongs to the civilized tribe, the Cherokee and the Trail of Tears.

For the artist it is not enough simply to lament, though a lamentation is clearly felt; it requires climbing under the skin, absorbing and feeling the full range and depth of emotion and perception.

There is jazz and blues on these tracks, always a touch of jazz, for jazz is the purest poetry of music. There is country and folk as well, a fusion of influences large and small, dark and light. Jacques Brel is alive and well and coexisting with Laura Nyro, Thelonious Monk and of course the poets Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti and Marshall McLuhan. On the back cover there is Mark Twain, the old west and is that Cormac McCarthy? On the front there is an ancient opiate dream.

Through it all there is the word and the lament.

Berry cries for a vision once more and the vision comes in many forms. It is a piece of work, an aesthetic charm, a forgotten muse, a hidden desire, a debt to be posted and paid.

As with all Jake Berry works, there are many layers, too many to contemplate at once. He is an artist that will not be cornered, not confined, never to be tied down or defined.

Those who are familiar with his work will find new clues to his mystery, another secret to his genius, his connection to another world. Those who are new to Jake may find themselves mesmerized, lost in an ever-unfolding universe that offers no answers, only question upon question, each moving closer to an eternal truth.

Long live Jake Berry.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bare Knuckles - Root Bound

New album available at Amazon.com/mp3, eMusic and iTunes.

Available as a CD On Demand from Amazon.com

Album details:


Produced by Bare Knuckles

1. Drag A Line – written by Jake Berry
J. J. Burgess – fiddle
Jake Berry – vocals, guitars
Wayne Sides – tub bass, percussion

2. Hide Me – written by Jake Berry
Jake Berry – vocals, banjo
J. J. Burgess – fiddle
Wayne Sides – tub bass

3. Chains From Galilee – written by Maxwell D. Russell
Maxwell D. Russell – vocals, guitar
Jake Berry – lead guitar
Wayne Sides – tub bass

4. Bitter Lovers Wine – written by Maxwell D. Russell
Jake Berry – vocals
Maxwell D. Russell – guitars
Wayne Sides – tub bass

5. Better Than Jesus – written by Jake Berry
Jake Berry – vocals, banjo
J. J. Burgess – fiddle
Wayne Sides – tub bass

6. Harley Horse – written by Wayne Sides
Richard Curtis – vocal
Jake Berry – banjo
J. J. Burgesss – fiddle
Wayne Sides – tub bass

7. When Grandma Speaks – written by Jake Berry
Jake Berry – vocal, banjo
J. J. Burgess – fiddles
Wayne Sides – tub bass

8. You're The Reason – written by Maxwell D. Russell
Maxwell D. Russell – vocals, guitar
Wayne Sides – tub bass

9. Crossroads Revisted – written by Richard Curtis
Richard Curtis – vocal
Jake Berry – guitars
Wayne Sides – tub bass

10. Tuscan Vespa Baby – written by Wayne Sides
Richard Curtis – Vocal
J.J. Burgess – fiddle
Jake Berry – banjo
Wayne Sides – tub bass

11. Bad Weather – written by Maxwell D. Russell and Jake Berry
Jake Berry – vocal, banjos
Maxwell D. Russell – guitars, fiddle
Wayne Sides – tub bass, percussion

12. I've Lived A Country Song – written by Maxwell D. Russell
Maxwell D. Russell – vocal, guitars
Jake Berry – lead guitar, piano, background vocal
Wayne Sides – tub bass

13. Beulah Land – written by Jake Berry and Maxwell D. Russell
Jake Berry – vocals, all instruments

14. Black Hole Train – written by Wayne Sides
Wayne Sides – solo vocal, tub bass
Richard Curtis – vocal
Maxwell D. Russell – banjo
Jake Berry - mandolin

Recorded August 2008, April, July and August, 2009
at 9th St. Laboratories, Florence, AL

© (p) 2009, Jake Berry, Wayne Sides, Maxwell D. Russell, and Richard Curtis

contact: bare.knuckles@live.com

Front Porch Recordings

Thursday, July 3, 2008

(photograph by Wayne Sides)

Liminal Blue (2008) - Jake Berry - Songs from the periphery, the dark corners, waking dreams, and visionary revels. Ranging from soulful ballads to laments to chamber folk. What at first sounds like a conundrum of scattered lines and musical styles becomes in a little over half an hour a mirror of the fragmented, isolated state of the human soul at the outset of the new century. This is a document of the contemporary landscape as seen from the inside. As with all Berry's albums this one was recorded in a back room in his home he calls 9th Street Laboratories. The first Front Porch recording to be released as an online digital album as well as a CD. Available at: Amazon.com, eMusic, iTunes, Rhapsody and Shockhound.

Jack Random's review at Amazon.com:

The first word that comes to mind in describing Jake Berry's Liminal Blue is Haunting. The second is Illusive. Jake Berry is a poet. He chooses words with care and sensitivity. The word Blue is obvious and inevitable. The mood is melancholy like the burning sunset of a toxic sky. The key word is Liminal and readers will be forgiven if they have to reference its meaning: belonging to the point of conscious awareness below which something cannot be experience or felt.

The word explains the haunting, the sensation of being lost, the foreshadowing of disease that hovers over this collection of poem songs.

Jake Berry is an artist. He paints these songs with a singular brush stroke. Folk and blues the genres chosen, a pleasant voice, a soothing sound but the words are like mystic bullets. They cannot physically harm you but they can scare you, shock you or burrow under your skin and haunt you.

No one has time any more for music with layers of meaning beyond the prosody and tone of the artist. No one has time for poetry but poets. Take the time and get to know an artist of rare and gifted voice...or simply enjoy the sound.

Van Eaton's response:

Yes!!!!! Jack hit the mark here, and what is also amazing to me is that with all the intelligent lyrics, these songs and tunes are extremely accessible , regardless of a persons chosen genre this is a great listen!

If you want to dig into poetry and don't have time for the written word, plug this album in and you have the best of 2 worlds ..written poetry and great music. This is an amazing set!

Hank Lazer's response:

jake's new cd is elusive and liminal. expect to listen to it several times as you attune yourself to its haunting tunes. bravo!

Naked as rain and the animal beneath (2007) - Jake Berry - A concept album of sorts composed interwoven themes. Making use of digital recording and editing for the first time, Berry began with basic guitar and voice or piano and voice demos, added tracks with virtually ever instrument he could lay his hands on and brought in his brother Jeff Berry to add electric guitar on several tracks. Then the deconstruction began. The result is an album that retains its connections to folk, blues and alternative music, but is neither of these. The themes combine to tell of a culture perilously close to collapse. What began as a dream of prosperity and freedom after the second World War gradually became a nightmare of empire building, greed, and a culture of self-absorption. Naked as rain charts the course of the shift through character studies, songs of social upheaval and scatological disintegration. To download "Ash on the Roses" click here.

Slow Motion Town (2006)
– Jake Berry – Having grown up in a small town, this set is a homage to the locales and people who inhabit the often overlooked and forgotten places whether they are rural or small neighborhoods hidden in large cities. This is also an unflinching series of observations and narratives about the heartland, the kind of work we do and the lives we live when the old traditions of family, steady jobs and friendly neighborhoods have vanished. At times nostalgic for a more rugged but reliable past, at times finding unlikely heroes and sympathetic anti-heroes in the most mundane places (department stores, all night dinners, and liquor stores), Slow Motion Town is a questing, earnest attempt to reckon with modern realities set to country waltzes, acoustic blues and contemporary ballads. To download “A Taste of Poison,” “One Sweet Night,” and “Black Cat Stomp” click here.

Strange Parlors (2005)
– Jake Berry – A radical departure from Berry’s previous songwriting, Strange Parlors expands on what is possible in folk music. From a review by Jack Foley: “These lyrics are the result of a genuine but ‘alternate’ religious sensibility, in which Western religion is simultaneously a source of immense personal pain and, at times, a profound judgment upon others. The words ‘deep’ and ‘dark’ repeat.… But the main point is the music.… it is music as deep atmosphere. The music is like the score to a wonderful, surrealistic film noir: in a certain sense it is ‘background,’ pure atmosphere, bringing us not only into an alternate understanding of harmonic relationships but into, as Berry puts it in a lyric, ‘some other time.’ It is deeply mysterious, surprising, at times ‘wrong’ in its rightness.… His active imagination and his extraordinary willingness to experiment bring him into territory which is far ‘stranger’ than either fiction or science fiction: ‘it all comes down,’ he writes in a song titled from Ecclesiastes, ‘to a single motion / that takes your breath away.’” To download the tracks “Dark Water,” “Four Ways Round,” and “Vanities” click here.