And now, for something completely different!
For those of you who don’t know him, I’d like to introduce one of the coolest motherfuckers on the planet. I met rick in 2003 at a party in Cambridge, just after moving to Boston. I tried out to be the new bass player in his band. I was a terrible player, but he somehow managed never having to actually tell me that, and we became tight as hell. It was fine—I knew. (And I’m still not such hot shit on the bass.) Several years later we became, along with the excellent, recently betrothed Joost Rosenbaum, roommates at the apartment where Rick still lives, on the second floor right above Aida’s little gift shop in Jamaica Plain. I spent about a year there, working as a messenger, broke as fuck, listening to Rick’s wonderful hammering on his piano down the hall, singing loud and joyful enough to hear from the street, while I was sucking down pints of Seagram’s and beating on my MPC, writing my own album, falling asleep in the shower, coating all the forks in bacon grease, leaving stacks of cans on the table…Rick listened hard when I showed him my stuff. He gave me some of the only advice, the only criticism that’s ever been worth a shit to me as a musician or as a human being. Hell, he even hooked me up with shows. I don’t think I was totally aware at the time how damn fine the man’s words were or how deeply he was considering the things he said, but what of it? If you give a ten-year-old a Ferrari, he might not be able to reach the pedals yet but on some level he gets it, even if the full extent of the gift isn’t totally realized until much later.
Rick’s been making music forever, and it’s some of the most honest, nuanced, well-crafted, and perceptive shit I’ve heard, straight up. Dude listens, dude pays attention. Dude sees things you’d miss. He’s played me scratchy Walkman demos on the tape deck in the Pontiac that made me cry like a bitch. I’ve been to a ton of his shows and it’s always a trip, no matter how many times you’ve heard the songs before. On his most recent record, Paper Airplane, he’s got an amazing band, an amazing producer and some of the finest (says me) songs I’ve heard from him in years.
But…enough. I’m not a music writer and I feel like an idiot trying to talk about Berlin’s music. He’s got a new site up at Microfundo, where you can download some of the tracks from the new album for free, as well as a pay-what-you-wish for his previous record, Old Stag. Rick is the type of artist I will support to the fucking end, and this is a great way to do it.
Rick’s also got a hell of a website at rickberlin.com, where you can check out all the tunes past and present, a vast collection of his videos and photos, his writing and more.
Just lettin’ y’all know. Happy Halloween!