Musician Marc Berger to perform ‘Ride’ at Basalt library
He’s a New Yorker, but Marc Berger draws inspiration from a land far from his home — the American West. You might say it’s something of a spiritual home for the musician, whose first trip to this side of the country was a road trip at age 21. He’s remained West obsessed in the years since. Berger’s latest album, “Ride,” is a love letter to the region.
Berger will play songs from the album and share stories from his personal experience in the West tonight at the Basalt Regional Library. He’ll be joined by a trio of Colorado musicians: Lester Price on acoustic and electric guitars, Chris Gopelrud on drums and Mike Facey on upright and electric bass. “We’ve never even met each other in person. We’ll do a little rehearsal when I get out there, and then we’ll hit the road and start playing these songs. Sometimes when that happens, it’s really magical,” Berger said. “I think that’s going to happen here.”
We spoke to Berger in advance of tonight’s show. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Post Independent: It’s obvious that the West has affected you. Tell me about your experiences.
Marc Berger: I definitely came back from that first trip transformed. When I came back to New York, all I wanted to do was get back out there. The next five summers … I got in my car and drove across the Hudson River and drove out West by myself.
I became very aggressive about getting up on top of mountains and getting into backcountry. Those drives were incredible. I was in my early 20s, there was no cell phone then. You could really get into a zone. Then your destination was always amazing.
Living in New York City most of my adult life, I always felt like I saw enough people. I didn’t care to go to Paris. I just kept getting out to the West.
PI: Did writing these songs differ in any way from your previous albums?
MB: Vastly so. … I spent a lot of years standing in front of an electric guitar with rock ’n’ roll bands in lower Manhattan, screaming into the microphone.
As I got to be a better and better singer, I created this body of songs — it’s only one of the things I wrote about. But eventually I encountered a writer, a guy by the name of A.B. Guthrie, who writes about the west in a way that really communicated to me. He wasn’t writing about cowboys and Indians, he was writing about the vibe and what it elicits in a human being to be in that environment. It was in particular a book called “The Big Sky.”
… That book is what got me thinking about combining my love of the West with my love of music and my love of American history and creating Ride.
PI: You’ve got two runs through Colorado coming up. What’s on your agenda when you’re not performing?
MB: For me to be able to come out to the West, play in the evening and hike in the daytime, it’s ridiculous. It’s so wonderful. Among the Western states I’ve spent time in and exploring in my 20s and 30s, I probably didn’t spend as much time in Colorado as I did in the others.
It’s my fourth time coming to Colorado to play, first time with a band. I’ve really gotten a great hit off this state. I’ve realized how unique it is. It’s extremely progressive, really culturally aware and interested. I’m in the process of developing a bit of a love affair with your state.