David Berchtold & Brian Stear | Ghosts of Music Past

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Folk: Folk Blues Rock: Acoustic Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Ghosts of Music Past

by David Berchtold & Brian Stear

David's fourth CD and Brian's first, but you'd swear they've been playing together for at least one lifetime. Solidly finger picked acoustic guitar, with lyrical blending accompaniment on harmonica and mando.
Genre: Folk: Folk Blues
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Mole's Moan (feat. Brian Stear)
David Berchtold & Brian Stear
2:37 $0.99
2. Bottle of Wine (feat. Brian Stear)
David Berchtold & Brian Stear
2:43 $0.99
3. Northern Sky (feat. Brian Stear)
David Berchtold & Brian Stear
4:15 $0.99
4. Going to California (feat. Brian Stear)
David Berchtold & Brian Stear
3:28 $0.99
5. Fishin' Clothes (feat. Brian Stear)
David Berchtold & Brian Stear
3:29 $0.99
6. How Long Blues (feat. Brian Stear)
David Berchtold & Brian Stear
3:11 $0.99
7. Water Song (feat. Brian Stear)
David Berchtold & Brian Stear
3:37 $0.99
8. Buckets of Rain (feat. Brian Stear)
David Berchtold & Brian Stear
3:08 $0.99
9. If I Were a Carpenter (feat. Brian Stear)
David Berchtold & Brian Stear
4:31 $0.99
10. Come and Go Blues (feat. Brian Stear)
David Berchtold & Brian Stear
3:12 $0.99
11. Parchman Farm (feat. Brian Stear)
David Berchtold & Brian Stear
5:37 $0.99
12. Somewhere Over the Rainbow (feat. Brian Stear)
David Berchtold & Brian Stear
4:14 $0.99
13. Summertime (feat. Brian Stear)
David Berchtold & Brian Stear
4:29 $0.99
14. Take Five (feat. Brian Stear)
David Berchtold & Brian Stear
2:09 $0.99
15. South City Midnight Lady (feat. Brian Stear)
David Berchtold & Brian Stear
4:53 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
David Berchtold
Propelled by a hard-driving alternating thumb, the infectious acoustic fingerstyle music of David Berchtold keeps feet tapping from start to finish. David’s heart-felt, melodic original tunes and expressive interpretations of familiar standards make for all-around audience delight. David regularly entertains at restaurants, bars, coffeehouses, private parties and concert venues with up to four hours of music – either with vocals or completely instrumental.

Ghosts of Music Past, the latest and 4th CD from David Berchtold, is his first collaboration with musician extraordinaire, Brian Stear. The CD is available online and at shows. Recent appearances of note include a performance at the Hickory Ridge Concert Series at Dixon Mounds Museum.

A dedicated perfectionist, David spent over 25 years diligently practicing his craft, learning from the likes of Jorma Kaukonen, Pat Donahue, and Woody Mann.

David has amassed a tasty blend of concert-quality acoustic instrumentals featuring his emotive finger picking (such as “Little Martha” by the Allman Brothers and “Embryonic Journey” by Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna) and a huge variety of folk, blues, ragtime, roots rock, gospel, and acoustic rock classics. His original tunes, such as “Things I’ve Seen,” “Suits Me Fine,” and “Aftermath” get great audience response everywhere he goes.

“Berchtold and Stear” is David’s new duo with multi-instrumentalist Brian Stear on harmonica, mandolin, guitar, vocals, and his Grandma’s old washboard. They are creating a buzz and getting return visits at nearly every venue they play.

David now plays as a solo or duo act. With his easy, laid-back stage presence, the music of David Berchtold touches and inspires as it entertains.

Brian Stear
The son of a very musical family, multi-instrumentalist Brian Stear grew up in the melting pot of music in the 1960s known as Los Angeles. While soaking up influences from Motown, musical theater, jazz, rock, and everything in between, he would sneak his AM radio under his pillow at night and fall asleep to the greats he would later pay tribute to. Above all, it was his Grandma, the one person in the family with no musical talent at all, who inspired him to follow a career in music by making him feel that he could do anything.

Proud of his reputation as a consummate sideman of over 30 years, Brian has developed a unique style and approach to each instrument in his arsenal. Though he started out on drums, his harmonica playing is melodic, joyful, soulful and searing. For him no melody is sacred, as he captivates the audience like the Pied Piper himself. For blues, rock and country guitar, it’s all about “The Three T’s”: taste, technique, and tone, as he uses the guitar to add the icing on the cake. For bluegrass, folk, and blues standards, Brian uses his mandolin as more of a support instrument to accompany the artist as opposed to pulling the spotlight. He’s even got his Grandma’s washboard for rhythm accompaniment, which he plays with bare fingers to really feel what he’s doing.

A guy you’d trust to get the job done (or be honest enough to say he can’t,) Brian has played with hundreds of great musicians, from local coffeehouse regulars like David Berchtold, to Grammy award winners like Koko Taylor. A self-described musical chameleon, he has the unique ability to bring exactly what’s needed to the table and blend into the song, creating a canvas of sound translated from the natural (and unnatural!) sounds of daily life all around us.

In addition to studio work and live performances, Brian also works with schools, youth groups, educators, and other organizations to present musical workshops to inform and motivate the next generation.



to write a review

Nick DeRiso - Ariel Publishing

Once again, Berchtold and Stear show that there isn’t much they won’t try, and l
In a way, Ghosts of Music Past couldn’t be a more appropriate name for Berchtold and Stear’s brilliantly varied, blues-steeped journey through time. From Tin Pan Alley to Deep South soul, from folk-singer musings to rock-band remakes, it’s all here. Still, don’t look for a dismal ride through age-old remembrances on this darkly titled new release. Instead, Ghosts of Music Past begins with a skipping little instrumental, “Moles Moan,” featuring Stear on a box-car rattling turn on harmonica. Berchtold weaves in and around these sharp hiccups, playing guitar lines that alternate between sweet-corn country and grease-trap blues. That upbeat mood continues with Tom Paxton’s “Bottle of Wine,” a sun-filled back-porch tune.

When Berchtold and Stear settle into the ringing melancholy of Nick Drake’s “Northern Sky,” their album finally approaches the strange mysticism of its title. The song brilliantly stirs in a country rock influence, like the J.D. Souther songs by the Eagles. Later, the duo goes even further into the rock realm, taking on Led Zeppelin’s acoustic classic “Going to California,” then “Water Song,” by Jorma Kaukonen of Hot Tuna and Jefferson Airplane fame; Bob Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain”; and, finally, “South City Midnight Lady” by the Doobie Brothers.

Already built on a bluegrass-inflected guitar signature, Berchtold and Stear ditch the lyrics for “California” and simply let the tune’s innate musical beauty move to the fore. Same on “Water Song,” as Berchtold and Stear combine for a stirring interplay of picking on guitar and mandolin. Berchtold neatly approximates the weary self-awareness that Dylan has cultivated so well over the years, but he and Stear take “Buckets of Rain” into a different, more emotional place along the way. Stear on vocals here is more open with the lyric, and the track benefits from Stear’s lonesome harmonica honk. They add a deeper nostalgia to the Doobie Brothers’ track, goosing it with a quick-step rhythm and a lilting vocal. In Berchtold and Stear’s hands, it’s not just a love song. It’s song about life’s lasting passions.

Berchtold and Stear also stir in a heaping helping of blues, taking on Doug “Little Brother” Jones’ “Fishin’ Clothes,” Leroy Carr’s “How Long Blues,” Gregg Allman’s “Come and Go Blues” and Mose Allison’s “Parchman Farm.” Stear is a revelation on “Fishin’ Clothes,” sounding so locomotive on the harp that he nearly carries the song through the front of the speakers. Berchtold turns in similarly gritty performances on Carr’s Piedmont blues and Allman’s gutsy groover. If anything, these two get greasier on the Allison track, a grim tale of enslavement and isolation. As Berchtold picks his way through a bent-note fury, Stear just hits a furious riff on the harmonica.

There are a few intriguing left-turn moments on the record too and, rather than distracting from these other triumphs, they illustrate just how deeply talented Berchtold and Stear are.
The duo performs “If I Were a Carpenter,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and a trio of tunes from the jazz idiom including the Gershwins’ “Summertime” and the Dave Brubeck Band favorite “Take Five.” Leave aside “Carpenter,” where perhaps to no one’s surprise Berchtold and Stear struggle to avoid sing-song clichés. But “Rainbow,” as it did in 1993 for Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, comes alive in their hands, first as a forlorn blues-soaked lament then (after a mid-song course correction) into a rattling affirmation of the hopes and dreams that song has always embodied. Same with their scuffed up rendition of “Summertime,” which finally connects completely with its own lyrics about backwater fishing and high cotton.

“Take Five” is Berchtold and Stear’s traditional set-closer before taking a mid-gig break. The pair is so at ease with this complex yet popular standard that they’ve jokingly begun referring to it as “Take Fifteen,” and that comfy familiarity shines through. It’s a toe-tapping delight.
Once again, Berchtold and Stear show that there isn’t much they won’t try, and less still that they can’t do well.

David Bateman - Community President - Easter Seals Peoria/Bloomi

The music provided by Berchtold and Stear received rave reviews from our guests
David & Brian-
Thank you so much for playing (no pun intended) a significant role in making Easter Seals’ 17th Grape Soiree’ a record breaking event. The music provided by Berchtold and Stear received rave reviews from our guests who insist that you be asked back next year. Not only was the quality and presentation of your music greatly enjoyed by all but the sincere and personal support you conveyed to those in attendance regarding Easter Seals’ mission was clearly heard and greatly appreciated.

Jim Johnson

Out of the park!
Whether or not David Berchtold is putting on his “Fishin’ Clothes” to try his luck at angling for bites at the Mackinaw River, Eureka Lake or the local fish market so he can act like he caught something, he really “hooks” fans (which include me) on his vast variety of music, be they his own, original productions (“C-Ya On Down The Road”, “Serenity”, “Waiting On Charlie”, etc.) or familiar classics like his (and Brian Stear’s) rendition of one of my favorites (“Bottle Of Wine”), in which the duo outdo the original artist (Tom Paxton).

As his one-time, long-ago sixth grade teacher and basketball coach, I always knew David was going to amount to something – I just wasn’t sure what. Now, I know, and it was neither academics nor athletics (although he exceled in both), but rather the artistry of music at a level of mastery few can hope to attain. You hit it out of the park, David!

John Vermilyea - Blues Underground Network

"Ghosts Of Music Past" is simply one album I cannot recommend highly enough. It
Berchtold & Stear are David Berchtold and Brian Stear whom together prove with their newest collaboration and CD "Ghosts Of Music Past", that music, great music, of a number of genres, can quite effectively be presented into one magically cohesive album. I have found no better proof of that, in a long time, then this amazing album, which has no problem showing us how songs such as Page & Plant's "Going to California", Tim Hardin's "If I Were a Carpenter", and Mose Allison's "Parchman Farm", to name a few, can be played in such a way as to have it feel totally natural to have such a collection of songs on one album.

"Ghosts Of Music Past" is David Berchtold's and Brian Stear's first collaboration together, something you may find hard to believe once you hear how seamlessly their music melds together, throughout this album. With 25 years of honing his craft, David Berchtold's forte' is his amazing expertise at finger picking. The genres David Berchtold explores throughout his shows at "restaurants, bars, coffeehouses, private parties and concert venues", run the gamut of "folk, blues, ragtime, roots rock, gospel, and acoustic rock classics". Some of his shows have been known to run up to 4 hours, some with vocals and some completely instrumental.

For over 30 years, Brian Stear has built a reputation of being a consumate sideman, a reputation he is very proud of. Over the years Brian has played with hundreds of great artists, from David Berchtold to Koko Taylor. An expert multi-instrumentalists, who first started out playing Drums, Brian then progressed to Harmonica, Guitar, Mandolin, even Grandma's Washboard, "which he plays with bare fingers to really feel what he’s doing." Brian Stear's commitment to music goes far beyond Studio Work and Live performances, as he "also works with schools, youth groups, educators, and other organizations to present musical workshops to inform and motivate the next generation."

"Ghosts Of Music Past" consists of 15 wonderfully done and interpreted Covers that show off David's and Brian's extraordinary talents, as artists, to perfection. "Ghosts Of Music Past" does have a fine collection of Blues songs, such as Gregg Allman's "Come and Go Blues", Leroy Carr's "How Long Blues", and Mose Allison's "Parchman Farm", to name a few, but there is much more great music to this album then just the Blues. You will find Led Zepellin covered here with "Going to California", which is done strictly as an instrumental, as is Paul Desmond's "Take Five", which they like to play Live as an end of a set song, and one that they humorously call "Take Fifteen". A few of the other great non-blues Tracks on "Ghosts Of Music Past" included "Bottle of Wine", "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", "Summertime", the Doobie Brothers "South City Midnight Lady", and the one that perpetually tugs at my heart strings, Tim Hardin's "If I Were a Carpenter". All great songs in their own right, offered in a bit of a different light, where they are once again allowed to brightly shine on.

All in all, I found "Ghosts Of Music Past" to be an extraordinarily good album, one that really surprised me, layered with rich textures of music that make you feel you are watching and listening to a couple of seasoned veterans, playing off the back of an old country porch.

It was not long into "Ghosts Of Music Past" that I really felt like I was listening to something really special and at times I the music even gave me goose bumps. Also I pondered about giving this album my highest rating of 5*****, not because I was thinking of not giving it my highest rating, that's a gimme, but as to whether that rating of 5***** was high enough, something that I can only remembering wondering about on one other album, I reviewed. "Ghosts Of Music Past" is simply one album I cannot recommend highly enough. It is an exceptional and rare offering, via 2 exceptional and rare artists.