Chris Bergson Band | Bitter Midnight

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Bitter Midnight

by Chris Bergson Band

"...Tasty, intuitive guitar work and passionate vocals...An absolute must for fans of blues, soul and southern rock." GITARIST Magazine (NL)
Genre: Blues: Country Blues
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Pedal Tones
Chris Bergson Band
2:56 album only
2. 5:20
Chris Bergson Band
3:43 album only
3. Just Before the Storm
Chris Bergson Band
3:13 album only
4. Knuckles & Bones
Chris Bergson Band (Feat. Ellis Hooks)
3:38 album only
5. Explode or Contain
Chris Bergson Band
3:44 album only
6. Lullaby
Chris Bergson Band
3:27 album only
7. 61st & 1st
Chris Bergson Band
4:04 album only
8. Blues for Dave
Chris Bergson Band
4:56 album only
9. Small Trouble
Chris Bergson Band
3:44 album only
10. Another Day
Chris Bergson Band
5:14 album only
11. Bitter Midnight
Chris Bergson Band (Feat. Ellis Hooks)
4:22 album only


Album Notes

"Four stars...With his sixth album Bergson again proves himself an expert writer of blues short stories..." MOJO, #3 Blues Album of 2017

"Throughout this expertly balanced mixture of blues, funk, R&B and soul, Bergson sings confidently through taut lyrics with more matured vocals since his extensive touring." Living Blues

"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." GITARIST (NL) Magazine, Album of the Month, March 2017

"One of the most talented bands playing today...From blazing rock to funk to soul to Delta blues and all that's in between." Jim Hynes, Elmore Magazine

"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." Tony Russell, The Blues Magazine (UK)

The Chris Bergson Band’s new release Bitter Midnight is the band’s first studio album since 2011’s critically acclaimed Imitate the Sun. Bitter Midnight showcases the band’s “gut-busting, horn-bedecked NY blues” (MOJO) with eleven original songs all recorded to two-inch tape at Brooklyn’s Mighty Toad Recording Studio. New York Blues Hall of Fame guitarist/singer Chris Bergson " of the most inventive songwriters in modern blues music" (All Music Guide ) is joined on the album by soul singer Ellis Hooks (Steve Cropper), baritone saxophonist Jay Collins (Gregg Allman), trumpeter Steven Bernstein (Levon Helm), drummers Aaron Comess (Spin Doctors), Tony Mason (Darlene Love), bassists Andy Hess (Gov’t Mule), Richard Hammond (Joan Osborne), Matt Clohesy (Patti Austin), and keyboardist/tenor saxophonist Craig Dreyer (Dispatch).

“It was great to record with some of my favorite musicians,“ says Bergson. “Some of the guys, like Richard Hammond, Aaron Comess, and Tony Mason, I’ve been playing with for years but had never recorded with before, so it was nice to finally document the rapport we’ve developed over many gigs.”

“I got it - just drums and clav on the intro!” And with that impromptu suggestion in the studio from drummer Aaron Comess, so begins “Pedal Tones,” the album’s opening track which Bergson penned with one of his most frequent collaborators, co-lyricist Kate Ross. With Comess’ opening snare drum fill leading to a funky clavinet riff from Craig Dreyer, the swampy groove keeps percolating with the addition of Jay Collins’ cowbell in this rumination on absence and loss.

Many of the songs on the record were inspired by Bergson’s recent European tours that have included performances in France, Spain, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Slovenia, Ireland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. As Bergson explains, “One of my favorite things to do when I get a day off on the road is to get out and explore.” “5:20,” written with co-lyricist Kate Ross, was inspired by a visit to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. “I kept returning to this one Monet painting - it captured a beautiful sadness I couldn’t turn away from…Standing in front of the painting, I heard echoes of Hank Williams and Robert Johnson and thought of all the great American train songs.”

The soul ballad “Just Before the Storm,” first introduced on the Chris Bergson Band’s Live at Jazz Standard (MOJO’s #3 Blues Album of 2014) is a three-part collaboration between Bergson, Ellis Hooks and Craig Dreyer. The added textures of Dreyer’s Fender Rhodes and Bergson’s acoustic guitar provide lustrous additions to the dynamic groove provided by bassist Richard Hammond and Aaron Comess.

Bitter Midnight also documents Bergson’s ongoing partnership with acclaimed soul singer, Ellis Hooks, who is featured here on two songs the pair wrote together - “Knuckles & Bones” and the album’s title track. The driving “Knuckles & Bones” finds Bergson’s working band of Craig Dreyer on Wurlitzer, bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Tony Mason “augmented with a horn section expert in the snap and crackle of bluesy soul” (The Blues Magazine UK) with a Stax-styled horn arrangement by Jay Collins.
“Explode or Contain,” an anthem that speaks to the current new world order, showcases Bergson’s soaring slide guitar propelled by explosive drumming from Tony Mason and anchored by bassist Matt Clohesy.

The album closes with the haunting slow blues “Bitter Midnight” with Hooks and Bergson trading verses as the story unfolds over another hip horn arrangement by Jay Collins. “It was a treat to record with some of my favorite horn players,” said Bergson, happy to be reunited with longtime saxophonist Collins and trumpeter Steven Bernstein, whom Bergson performed with in Levon Helm’s band at the late drummer’s famed Midnight Rambles in Woodstock, NY. You can hear Bergson paying tribute to two of his biggest blues guitar influences in his solo including Hubert Sumlin, with whom Bergson performed in his later years, and Freddie King.

Chris Bergson
Chris Bergson was inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame at B.B. King’s Blues Club in February 2015. With MOJO Magazine's #1 Blues Album of 2008, Fall Changes, #2 Blues Album of 2011, Imitate the Sun, and #3 Blues Album of 2014, Live at Jazz Standard, New York guitarist/singer Chris Bergson has established himself as "one of the most inventive songwriters in modern blues music" (All Music Guide), creating his own blend of blues, roots and soul. Chris Bergson has performed and/or shared the stage with Hubert Sumlin, Levon Helm, B.B. King, Norah Jones, John Hammond, Etta James, and Bettye LaVette, to name just a few.

Notable past performances include: Swing Wespelaar (Belgium), GeVarenwinkel Festival (Belgium), Moulin Blues (Holland), Groningen Rhythm and Blues Night (Holland), Festival Blues en Loire (France), Salaise Blues Festival (France), Bain de Blues Festival (France), Harvest Time Blues (Ireland), Rhino Jazz Festival (France), Sweet Cotton Blues Festival (Spain), Burlada Blues Festival (Spain), Blues Postojna (Slovenia), Blues Open (Holland), Blues in Hell (Norway), Leicester Blues Festival (UK), Waterfront Blues Festival (Portland, OR), Saratoga Jazz Festival (NY), Levon Helm's Midnight Rambles (Woodstock, NY), River to River Festival (NYC), Joe’s Pub (NYC), The Blue Note (NYC), Jazz Standard (NYC), John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (DC), SXSW, and opening for B.B. King at B.B. King's Blues Club (NYC).

Born in New York City but raised in Somerville, Massachusetts, Chris Bergson returned to Manhattan in 1995. While backing jazz singers Annie Ross, Dena DeRose, Sasha Dobson and Norah Jones, he released Blues for Some Friends of Mine and Wait for Spring on Juniper Records in 1997 and 2000, respectively. In 2002 Bergson was appointed a Jazz Ambassador of the USA by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and he toured Africa with his trio. Evolving to further embrace the blues while also adding pop influences, he followed up with Blues (2003), Another Day (2005) and his triumphant artistic breakthrough, the widely acclaimed Fall Changes (2007) -- MOJO’s #1 Blues Album of 2008 -- that established him as an eloquent, evocative and lyrical songwriter with a sharp urban vision. Recorded at Levon Helm’s Woodstock studio, it led to Bergson being personally invited to perform at the famed drummer’s Midnight Rambles while opening the way for more stateside festivals and subsequent tours of Europe.

Selected Press

”The Chris Bergson Band sets a bold new standard for roots music…” Hittin’ the Note

”Authentic but not stifled by tradition…Bergson is the classic triple threat.”

"Chris Bergson plays the kind of guitar you can build a house on - it's B.B. meets Steve Cropper meets John Scofield." ROLL Magazine

"Four Stars - another bulletin from the New York street poet with a blues soul... the music is as tight as a hangman's knot." MOJO



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