An esteemed contributor to Bluegrass Today, Dave Berry doesn’t simply talk the talk. The sounds this San Francisco-based scribe makes with a group of friends and fellow travelers, as represented on his excellent new album, Morning Walk, reflects his reverence and respect for music that taps into tradition while also providing an exceptional outlet for his own creative desires. By his own admission, he’s a latecomer to this endeavor, having only picked up on his chosen instrument, the mandolin, at the age of 40. After being forced into an earlier retirement, he became thoroughly engaged, expressing his interest via jam sessions, band activity, and sharing his own original songs.
Happily then, his indulgence has paid off. As he states on his website, Morning Walk reflects his a heritage sown from bluegrass and Celtic roots, and those influences are obvious on the majority of these instrumental outlays. Each of these offering evoke upbeat emotions, whether it’s the dainty designs found in the whistled refrain of the title track, the sprightly sounds of Pipehorn Backstop and Payne Gap, the rousing revelry circulated through Blackwater Flood at Buffalo Creek, or the jaunty delivery and fiddle fitness of Dutch Flatt and Scotch Hops. By the same token, Berry and company know how to share some repose as well — the lilting Western Crossing and the delicate strains of Buster’s Farewell contribute to a mellower motif.
Credit must also go to the friends mentioned on the marquee, including Simon Chrisman (hammered dulcimer) and Leslie Chin (whistle) on the aforementioned title track, and Brandon Godman (violin) and Henry Salvia (piano) on Buster’s Farewell. As for the rest, suffice it to say that Berry’s enlisted a veritable army of contributors throughout the entire album, effectively imbuing these arrangements with a rich, robust sound that resonates well even after the notes eventually fade away.
As a first entry, Morning Walk is a decided success. Consider it an excellent way to start each day, not to mention a soothing soundtrack for the afternoon and evening as well.