The Chris Bergson Band's latest CD Bitter Midnight was released in Europe by Continental Record Services on March 17, 2017 and in the U.S. on 2 Shirts Records on April 4, 2017.
Bitter Midnight, the Chris Bergson Band's fourth consecutively critically acclaimed release, was ranked MOJO Magazine's #3 Blues Album of 2017.
"Authentic but not stifled by tradition...Bergson is the classic triple threat." Jambands.com
"The album closes with Gowanus Heights, a flag waver with descriptive lyrics and killer guitar solo, percolating rhythm section, and regal blasts from the horn section. Bergson and band sent the crowd home, satisfied and dancing on the streets of Manhattan." Living Blues
"One of the most inventive songwriters in modern blues music." All Music Guide
A NY Blues Hall of Fame inductee, "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
"One of the most talented bands playing today...from blazing rock to funk to soul to Delta blues and all that's in between." Elmore Magazine.
Chris Bergson Band's virtousic musicianship seamlessly marries inventive songwriting with eclectrifying improvisation, creating unforgettable live shows. Chris Bergson Band has sold out renowend venues such as NYC's Jazz Standard and become a festival favorite. Chris Bergson has performed and/or shared the stage with such greats as Levon Helm, Norah Jones, Hubert Sumlin, B.B. King, John Hammond, Etta James and Bettye LaVette.
Bitter Midnight, whose track list includes songs inspired by Bergson's successful 10 country European tour, features guest artists such as drummer Aaron Comess (Spin Doctors), bassists Richard Hammond (Santana)and Andy Hess (Gov't Mule), trumpeter Steven Bernstein (Henry Butler), saxophonist Jay Collins (Gregg Allman) and acclaimed soul singer Ellis Hooks (Steve Cropper.)
At the heart of it all is the "New York street poet with a blues soul." MOJO
The Chris Bergson Band's latest release Bitter Midnight was named Album of the Month in the March 2017 issue of Gitarist Magazine (NL). Kevin Pasman writes: "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. And that is exactly why it's not fair to keep labeling him as a blues artist: both his songs as his guitar skills go far beyond the borders of the genre. We hear here the work of a man who imposes on himself absolutely no limitations, with a swinging, lively record as a result. An absolute must for fans of blues, soul and southern rock."
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 "...one 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.
"One of the most talented bands playing today...From blazing rock to funk to soul to Delta blues and all that's in between." 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." The Blues Magazine (UK)
Chris Bergson was inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame in February 2015. With MOJO Magazine's #1 Blues Album of 2008, Fall Changes,#2 Blues Album of 2011, Imitate the Sun, #3 Blues Album of 2014, Live at Jazz Standard and #3 Blues Album of 2017, Bitter Midnight, 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:
Harvest Time Blues (Ireland), Moulin Blues (Holland), Rhythm and Blues Night (Holland), GeVarenwinkel Festival (Belgium), Swing Wespelaar (Belgium), Festival Blues en Loire (France), Rhino Jazz Festival (France), Salaise Blues Festival (France), Bain de Blues Festival (France), Sweet Cotton Blues Festival (Spain), Burlada Blues Festival (Spain), Blues Station (Tournon d'Agenais, France), Eden District Blues (Oraison, France), 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. The Chris Bergson Band's next studio album Imitate the Sun (2011) was named MOJO’s#2 Blues Album of 2011 followed by Live at Jazz Standard (2014) which was named MOJO’s #3 Blues Album of 2014. The Chris Bergson Band's latest CD, Bitter Midnight was released in Europe on March 17, 2017 by Continental Record Services and was ranked MOJO's #3 Blues Album of 2017.