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about

“For an untrained musician who writes everything by ear, Berlin has a gift for the kind of emotive, subtle chord voicings that seem to draw from the heart of the American songbook.” (Jon Garelick/Boston Phoenix) 

Hi-N-Dry Records is proud to announce the release of Boston-based songwriter/singer/piano player  RICK BERLIN's “OLD STAG” on SEPTEMBER 16, 2008.
 
Rick Berlin’s 2nd release on the label, "OLD STAG" was recorded in Rick’s livingroom in Jamaica Plain, MA, by Joe Stewart (engineer). With a microphone out a window to get sounds of the street, and enough strange looking gear to start an insurgency, songs were recorded – verite – like a Truffaut film: with grit, romance and a black 'n' white mise en scene.

What is most breathtaking about this record, however, is the work of the string quartet arrangements by Brendan Cooney - a pianist, banjoist and composer living in W. Philadelphia.  He has arranged for several Philly-based bands including Dr. Dog and Buried Beds. Featuring Joseph Simcox - viola, Katie Franich - cello, Christiana Hornby and Meredith Cooper - violin, Cooney's arrangements lift the material into an emotional realm that is beautiful, musically inventive and always right.

Members of the Boston band Sand Machine add backup vocals on 4 tunes. 

The record was mixed by David Minehan (The Neighborhoods) at Woolly Mammoth Sound. A two time winner of the Best Producer at the Boston Music Awards, Sir David pulled disparate elements (strings, outdoor sounds, backups, piano, vox) together to spectacular effect.

The songs: As simple as the longing of a fan for a performer (“John Lennon's Nose”), as confusing as the white water turbulence of a relationship gone bad (“Always”), as envious as a straight-guy in a dyke bar (“Happy Lesbians In The Snow”), as lonely as war vet with no one to share his nightmare (“Unknown Soldier”) or as magical as a beautiful girl who while loving everyone, remains a mystery (“Elle”), Berlin, like an old stag in the woods, still stands, unbowed - an astute, empathetic observer of the painful distance between souls and of the exhilarating, oddball way we all manage to survive. 

'Old Stag' is as much an evolution as departure from his previous record "Me & Van Gogh": 'It may have taken 30-plus years for veteran Boston singer-songwriter Rick Berlin to make his masterpiece, but it was worth the wait. 'Me & Van Gogh' is an intimate, idiosyncratic collection of verite snapshots and cocktail-napkin sketches that together make up a tender, grandly tormented portrait of people wounded by dreams and bruised by experience. Berlin's spare, bold brush strokes of piano and conversational cabaret croon vividly illuminate this singular work.' (Jonathan Perry - Boston Globe Top 10 CD's of '06)

Rick has been around a lot of blocks. He's known a lot of incredible artists, well and not-so-well known. He played CBGB's (with Orchestra Luna) when the Talking Heads, Patti Smith and the Ramones took their first steps. He played Frank Zappa's 10 anniversary party. He was jailed in Grenada, West Indies for nudity on a film shoot. He shook Nixon's hand twice when he was a kid - cold, weak grip. He was fired from a co-ed school in Steamboat Springs, and busted for shoplifting in Santa Barbara. He dropped out of the Yale Drama school once he realized that he was a song writer and not an actor. He opened for J Geils' last Christmas tour, and played Jacques Cabaret (the oldest transvestite bar in the country) for ll years of Monday nights. He's also a lifer at Doyle's Cafe in Jamaica Plain, waiting tables there for 18+ years. Who knows what it is that makes an artist relevant. Perhaps it is that, like Dave Isay explains in his book about StoryCorps: 'listening is an act of love'. Rick's songs have a particular ear to the ground that x-rays, in his best work, the portraits of the lost and forgotten.

"From his documentary-in-progress about the people of JP, to his unfinished musical about a boy with a magic harmonica, to his pal-packed collaborative cabaret throwdowns, to his most recent masterpiece of heavily populated pop, 'Me and Van Gogh', the work of stalwart star Rick Berlin has always been a celebration of characters. But for seasoned and newbie local musicians alike, from the Dresden Dolls to Sand Machine, the character worth celebrating is Berlin himself.' (Michael Brokeur - The Weekly Dig)

You can learn more about Rick Berlin, read his short fiction, the script for his musical "The Kingdom", view clips of interviews for his documentary-in- progress (Jamaica Plain-Spoken – Ungated Community In The 21st Century?)  at www.rickberlin.com

credits

released September 14, 2008

Recorded + engineered by Joe Stewart in Rick's livingroom + mixed @ Woolly Mammoth by Sir David Minehan, Joe Stewart + Rick (w/ help from Travis Kern). String arrangements by Brendan Cooney. cello katie franich v2 christina hornby, v1 meredith cooper, viola joe simcox, back up vocals jay, dave, jeremy (sand machine), back up vocal recorded by noah scanlan, photos by rene rives, graphics by shaun wortis, produced by rick berlin

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about

Rick Berlin (now playing w/ THE NICKEL & DIME BAND) Jamaica Plain

A giant on the Boston music scene. His colorful songwriting + strong stage presence have influenced countless other artists since the early 1970s. He continues to make music w/ intelligence + integrity, building an international reputation around his knotty, singular piano playing, straight-from-the-heart singing and a style of character-based songwriting that's drawn comparisons to Waits + Cohen ... more

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Contact Rick Berlin (now playing w/ THE NICKEL & DIME BAND)

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Track Name: John Lennon's Nose
JOHN LENNON'S NOSE

john lennon's nose
tattoo heart
beat up shoes
yr eyes sure look smart
you hit my target
knew where t aim
bull's-eye kid
up there playin'

i could not hear
the words you sang
i could not catch it all
but the way yr eyes
locked on to mine
i was not sure
coulda been the wine
but ya carried me
ya carried me
away

there was a girl there tonight
she looked like my friend joan
she was pretty n high
she was amazing
but it was only you
the wall's receeding
the roulette wheel
stopped...

2 shots and a beer
2 shots and a beer
jes you and me alone
jes you and me alone
touching...everywhere

C

we own the night
Track Name: Always
ALWAYS

always
always
i love you
bitterly
every
night
i hold you close
+ i let you go
always

there's something
dark + impossible
that keeps me comin back
ya keep me comin back
always

always
always
i fight w/ you
bitterly
every
night
i want t say
im sorry
always

there's something
crazy + right
that keeps me comin back
ya keep me comin back
always

fools
pickin thru the trash
shattered + bleeding
fools
laughin in the grass
but they know they're dreaming

always
Track Name: Underground
Underground

i worked it all out
i had my act down good
i reel ya in easy
make ya feel understood
then i throw ya a curve ball
i throw you a line
but ya get too close
ya get too close

inside i am nuthin
i am empty n blank
i rip off confession
jes like robbing a bank
but here's what's happened
here's what I learned
i'm in hiding from everyone
i'm in hiding from everyone

my heart's goin underground
in this modern world, in the modern city
i wear a smile, but im feelin down
in this modern world, in the modern city

i take a bus
t th' end of the country
i leave all my friends behind
i say goodbye
i tell em i love em
but i don't give a damn
i don't give a god damn

C

i fool my family
i fool myself
fool my best friend
put em thru hell
the whiskey, the beer
the whip i use
buries me deeper
worse than abused

can i dig myself out
can i find my way home?

C

i'm hidin' from everyone...
Track Name: Happy Lesbians In The Snow
HAPPY LESBIANS IN THE SNOW

happy lesbians
in the snow
throwing snowballs
making angels
making angels
back n forth

all the boys
stand around
wishing they
were lesbians
they were lesbians

C

what do they do
when they go home
they lie on the floor
with the labrador
with the labrador

will they close
the iron curtain
+ keep the boys from
hangin' out?

happy world
filled with girls

C

back n forth
in each other's eyes
Track Name: How Can I Hate People I Don't Know?
HOW CAN I HATE PEOPLE I DON'T KNOW?

why do everybody try t make other people look bad?
make tall make em small call 'em nigger when ya can
yr a faggot a fatso yr a fuckin cunt
it's th same t me
wr all racist pigs
i say wr sunk

how can i hate people i dont know...
it's easy, i do it all the time

prejudice is simple
ya just make up a lie
judgemental is mental
it makes ya die inside
yr old, yr ugly, yr a frisbee freak
i hate you why not?
my face is buried
in the ass
of sheep

C

ya say you r my daddy
well i guess i am yr son
but it's worse than that mister
cuz we jus' fightin' over crumbs
red against the blue
guns shootin up bystanders
arabs killin' jews
victimized r victimizer?
what you teachin' me gang boy?
wr all stupid here
lightin fires...

C

look at Narcissus over there, he thinks he's the cat's ass
check out polyester housewife she do anything her daddy ask
how drunk can you get barfly? yr time is up
mr priest with the acolyte boy take yr dick out fill my cup

C
Track Name: E-ll-e
ELLE

e-ll-e
in french don't that mean she?
oh your smile 360 degrees
r ya here really?

like a cat in the dark
ya tip toe thru my heart
fireflies in yr hair
suddenly ya r not there

C

a nurse by a bed
nightmare in her head
a ballerina moves
in slow motion thru the room

i wish i may
i wish i might
fly out the window
with you tonight

C
Track Name: House On Fire
HOUSE ON FIRE

high on a roof
traffic down below
we wr stoned + we were spinning
feelin everything
everything

we wonder if the moon
we wonder if the stars
wr as clever as the 2 of us
knowing
how stupid
we r

the good ones often
have sadness in their smile
+ the pretty
can never come clean
but you my friend
made a trip
across a wire
all the way
all the way
to me

yr naked with yr clothes on
as fragile as a fighter
you hold me with yr eyes
when yr standing
in a house
on fire

C

you have a secret that inspires you
a secret, sacred place
+ you wr cryin + shakin when ya told me
+ i'll never forget the look
i can never forget the look
on your face

C
Track Name: Michiko
MICHIKO

my room mate michiko
she doesn't eat
i never seen her eat
anything

shoes
she's into shoes
high heel shoes

my friends t- they give me all this shit they say
what's up with yr hooker room mate, dude?
i dunno, she's got issues

my room mate michiko
i did some recon
she drive's a Beema
she rents out a condo
she's got a fiance
she's got a fiance
he's 70 yrs old
70 yrs old

he's a god damn sugar daddy, you asshole
i dunno, maybe he pimps her out

my room mate, michiko
she doesn't say much
i think i want her outa here
but when i met her
when i met her
i thought she was really hot
i thought she was really hot

but i was desperate back then, man god damn it
+ now i think she's fuckin' disgusting

C

the kitchen is immaculate
Track Name: Love On A Wire
LOVE ON A WIRE

every time i look at you
i jump
out of my skin
everytime i think about you
i smile
like a question
+ ya keep me honest
+ ya keep me sane
+ ya keep me balanced
on a wire

the homeless boy
on a icy street
his smile frozen down
his hands r cold + his pockets r ripped
+ he's starin' at the ground
does he know my song?
does he have a love like you?
who will catch him when he falls?

love love love love love love love love love love...

i been shopping again
in a hardware store
for a socket that won't give out
a pair of pliers
that'll never let go
+ a light bulb like a bible
+ it smells like sawdust
+ it smells like paint
+ i believe if i believe enough
y'll catch me

C

every time i look at you
i jump
Track Name: Psycho
PSYCHO

are you a psycho?
are you weird?
you gonna fuck me?
are you queer?
see i never take a man home
before
before

my apartment
is a mess
i gotta lotta art junk around here i guess
look, im lonely
that word
says it best
says it best

don't touch me
go away
into that room over there
ok
aah, you can kiss me
here
then go
just go

its snowing
its cold
i stink
yr old
stay
hold me
hold me
then go

are you a psycho...
Track Name: The Fan
THE FAN

sneak outa the house
steal money from his sister
he feel like a giant zit
drool on his t-shirt

the one with the band
lookin' bad ass

no kid t go with
song burnin up his bed
vodka n coke in the parkin lot
noddin his head

starin at the band
he's their #1 fan
lookin bad ass

he don't read books
don't like tv
watchin porn on the internet
bitin his fingernails til they bleed

starin at the band
he's their #1 fan
they understand

invisible girl
invisible friend
invisible family
invisible dead end
invisible future
invisible flight
invisible drugs
on an insane night

starin at th band...

where'd everybody go?
Track Name: Unknown Soldier
UNKNOWN SOLDIER

unknown soldier
i will kiss yr feet
unknown warrior
there's a window open
by the sea

hold, hold out yr hand
like a birthday candle
hold, hold out yr hand
like a sparkler
panhandler

where you lookin
w/ yr sissy-eyed stare
sittin on th couch
in yr underwear
can't drink whiskey
can't write letters
wondering out loud
'f things'll get better
we all been there
we all been there

hold, hold out yr hand
like a birthday candle
hold, hold out yr hand
like a sparkler
panhandler

overhearin voices
naked in the park
pettin' a dog you don' know
coughin n spittin
hopin for angels
beggin for someone
beautiful
someone

unknown soldier
i will kiss yr feet
unknown warrior
there's a window open
by the sea
Track Name: Your Light Is On
YR LIGHT IS ON

yr light is on
yr still up
i look out my window
top of the hill
it's christmas
but it ain't sad
smell like trees
some boy been bad
are you awake
are you alone
are you awake
are you alone
like me?

i picture yr face
it's beautiful
lookin at the moon
orchids in the air
what r ya doin in the morning
when ya step outside
will ya think of
me?

if it were possible
i'd call you up
wouldn't say a word
but you'd know me
in yr heart
+ i'd know you
in mine
+ that's enough
+ that's enough
cuz yr light is on
+ so is mine
yr light is on
+ so is mine

a silver star
a scully cap
a can of beer
a sleepy cat
yr light is on
+ so is mine
yr light is on
+ so is mine