David Berchtold
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David Berchtold

Bloomington, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Bloomington, Illinois, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Americana Acoustic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"All in all, I found "Ghosts Of Music Past" to be an extraordinarily good album, one that really surprised me, layered with rich textures of music that make you feel you are watching and listening to a couple of seasoned veterans, playing off the back of a"

Berchtold & Stear are David Berchtold and Brian Stear whom together prove with their newest collaboration and CD "Ghosts Of Music Past", that music, great music, of a number of genres, can quite effectively be presented into one magically cohesive album. I have found no better proof of that, in a long time, then this amazing album, which has no problem showing us how songs such as Page & Plant's "Going to California", Tim Hardin's "If I Were a Carpenter", and Mose Allison's "Parchman Farm", to name a few, can be played in such a way as to have it feel totally natural to have such a collection of songs on one album.

"Ghosts Of Music Past" is David Berchtold's and Brian Stear's first collaboration together, something you may find hard to believe once you hear how seamlessly their music melds together, throughout this album. With 25 years of honing his craft, David Berchtold's forte' is his amazing expertise at finger picking. The genres David Berchtold explores throughout his shows at "restaurants, bars, coffeehouses, private parties and concert venues", run the gamut of "folk, blues, ragtime, roots rock, gospel, and acoustic rock classics". Some of his shows have been known to run up to 4 hours, some with vocals and some completely instrumental.

For over 30 years, Brian Stear has built a reputation of being a consumate sideman, a reputation he is very proud of. Over the years Brian has played with hundreds of great artists, from David Berchtold to Koko Taylor. An expert multi-instrumentalists, who first started out playing Drums, Brian then progressed to Harmonica, Guitar, Mandolin, even Grandma's Washboard, "which he plays with bare fingers to really feel what he’s doing." Brian Stear's commitment to music goes far beyond Studio Work and Live performances, as he "also works with schools, youth groups, educators, and other organizations to present musical workshops to inform and motivate the next generation."

"Ghosts Of Music Past" consists of 15 wonderfully done and interpreted Covers that show off David's and Brian's extraordinary talents, as artists, to perfection. "Ghosts Of Music Past" does have a fine collection of Blues songs, such as Gregg Allman's "Come and Go Blues", Leroy Carr's "How Long Blues", and Mose Allison's "Parchman Farm", to name a few, but there is much more great music to this album then just the Blues. You will find Led Zepellin covered here with "Going to California", which is done strictly as an instrumental, as is Paul Desmond's "Take Five", which they like to play Live as an end of a set song, and one that they humorously call "Take Fifteen". A few of the other great non-blues Tracks on "Ghosts Of Music Past" included "Bottle of Wine", "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", "Summertime", the Doobie Brothers "South City Midnight Lady", and the one that perpetually tugs at my heart strings, Tim Hardin's "If I Were a Carpenter". All great songs in their own right, offered in a bit of a different light, where they are once again allowed to brightly shine on.

All in all, I found "Ghosts Of Music Past" to be an extraordinarily good album, one that really surprised me, layered with rich textures of music that make you feel you are watching and listening to a couple of seasoned veterans, playing off the back of an old country porch.

It was not long into "Ghosts Of Music Past" that I really felt like I was listening to something really special and at times I the music even gave me goose bumps. Also I pondered about giving this album my highest rating of 5*****, not because I was thinking of not giving it my highest rating, that's a gimme, but as to whether that rating of 5***** was high enough, something that I can only remembering wondering about on one other album, I reviewed. "Ghosts Of Music Past" is simply one album I cannot recommend highly enough. It is an exceptional and rare offering, via 2 exceptional and rare artists. - John Vermilyea - Blues Underground Network

"Parchman Farm is so intricate and so well done, it belongs in everybody's Blues playlist!"

“Parchman Farm” showcases some of the duo’s most passionate playing. David’s acoustic guitar is complemented by some of Brian’s most “down and dirty” harp. Brian also juxtaposes the acoustic lines with piercing notes from an electric guitar. Mose Allison’s ode to the famous prison has never sounded deeper. - James "Skyy Dobro" Waker, Friends of the Blues Radio Show 91.1FM WKCC radio

"Berchtold and Stear show that there isn’t much they won’t try, and less still that they can’t do well."

Artist: Berchtold and Stear
Album: Ghosts of Music Past
Review by Nick DeRiso

In a way, Ghosts of Music Past couldn’t be a more appropriate name for Berchtold and Stear’s brilliantly varied, blues-steeped journey through time. From Tin Pan Alley to Deep South soul, from folk-singer musings to rock-band remakes, it’s all here. Still, don’t look for a dismal ride through age-old remembrances on this darkly titled new release. Instead, Ghosts of Music Past begins with a skipping little instrumental, “Moles Moan,” featuring Stear on a box-car rattling turn on harmonica. Berchtold weaves in and around these sharp hiccups, playing guitar lines that alternate between sweet-corn country and grease-trap blues. That upbeat mood continues with Tom Paxton’s “Bottle of Wine,” a sun-filled back-porch tune.

When Berchtold and Stear settle into the ringing melancholy of Nick Drake’s “Northern Sky,” their album finally approaches the strange mysticism of its title. The song brilliantly stirs in a country rock influence, like the J.D. Souther songs by the Eagles. Later, the duo goes even further into the rock realm, taking on Led Zeppelin’s acoustic classic “Going to California,” then “Water Song,” by Jorma Kaukonen of Hot Tuna and Jefferson Airplane fame; Bob Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain”; and, finally, “South City Midnight Lady” by the Doobie Brothers.

Already built on a bluegrass-inflected guitar signature, Berchtold and Stear ditch the lyrics for “California” and simply let the tune’s innate musical beauty move to the fore. Same on “Water Song,” as Berchtold and Stear combine for a stirring interplay of picking on guitar and mandolin. Berchtold neatly approximates the weary self-awareness that Dylan has cultivated so well over the years, but he and Stear take “Buckets of Rain” into a different, more emotional place along the way. Stear on vocals is more open with the lyric, and the track benefits from Stear’s lonesome harmonica honk. They add a deeper nostalgia to the Doobie Brothers’ track, goosing it with a quick-step rhythm and a lilting vocal. In Berchtold and Stear’s hands, it’s not just a love song. It’s song about life’s lasting passions.

Berchtold and Stear also stir in a heaping helping of blues, taking on Doug “Little Brother” Jones’ “Fishin’ Clothes,” Leroy Carr’s “How Long Blues,” Gregg Allman’s “Come and Go Blues” and Mose Allison’s “Parchman Farm.” Stear is a revelation on “Fishin’ Clothes,” sounding so locomotive on the harp that he nearly carries the song through the front of the speakers. Berchtold turns in similarly gritty performances on Carr’s Piedmont blues and Allman’s gutsy groover. If anything, these two get greasier on the Allison track, a grim tale of enslavement and isolation. As Berchtold picks his way through a bent-note fury, Stear just hits a furious riff on the harmonica.

There are a few intriguing left-turn moments on the record too and, rather than distracting from these other triumphs, they illustrate just how deeply talented Berchtold and Stear are.
The duo performs “If I Were a Carpenter,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and a trio of tunes from the jazz idiom including the Gershwins’ “Summertime” and the Dave Brubeck Band favorite “Take Five.” Leave aside “Carpenter,” where perhaps to no one’s surprise Berchtold and Stear struggle to avoid sing-song clichés. But “Rainbow,” as it did in 1993 for Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, comes alive in their hands, first as a forlorn blues-soaked lament then (after a mid-song course correction) into a rattling affirmation of the hopes and dreams that song has always embodied. Same with their scuffed up rendition of “Summertime,” which finally connects completely with its own lyrics about backwater fishing and high cotton.

“Take Five” is Berchtold and Stear’s traditional set-closer before taking a mid-gig break. The pair is so at ease with this complex yet popular standard that they’ve jokingly begun referring to it as “Take Fifteen,” and that comfy familiarity shines through. It’s a toe-tapping delight.
Once again, Berchtold and Stear show that there isn’t much they won’t try, and less still that they can’t do well.

Review by Nick DeRiso
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5) - Nick DeRiso of ReviewYou.com and ArielPublishing.com

"“Live on GLT” is one of Top 20 Entertainment Events of 2007 in Bloomington/Normal."

Local finger picker David Berchtold is all about his predecessors. His latest CD, released in February 2007, is an authentic throwback to traditional roots music. Berchtold combines folk, blues, gospel, and ragtime to produce a sound that is easy on the ear, but slightly radical in message. Influenced by artists such as Chet Atkins, Doc Watson, Gregg Allman, Leo Lottke, John Fahey, Rev. Gary Davis, and Jorma Kaukonen, Berchtold covers a wide range of styles, while managing to hone one of his own. As a live performer, he’s as personable as they come. Look for him this winter in Bloomington and other Central Illinois locations, or check out his schedule at davidberchtold.com. - Town and City Magazine

"Thoroughly enjoyed having you play"

Folks loved your music. Someone said you had a "real sweet voice" ... we thoroughly enjoyed having you play at the Trout Lily Cafe, and look forward to listening to you again. - Kate Hawkes, Owner - Trout Lily Cafe, Springfield, IL

"Rousing wake-up call"

The David Berchtold Trio gave the Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market a rousing wake-up call. David’s intriciate fingerstyle guitar sound – incredible enough by itself -- took on new depth and drive when backed by Joe Weisenfelder’s rich, energetic bass and Todd Ward’s rock-solid percussion. The DBT’s 9 a.m. performance proved it’s never too early in the morning for really great rock (or folk, blues, and gospel, for that matter)! - Elaine Sebald - Downtown Bloomington Farmer's Market

"The perfect fit!"

Thank you so much for your willingness to play at the Easter Seals Grape Soiree. The committee was ecstatic to have you return for another year. You are a perfect fit for The Grape Soiree, with the right amount of energy to carry us through the evening. We look forward to having you next year if you are available! - Stacy Mavec - Easter Seals Grape Soiree Committee


"Berchtold and Stear: Ghosts of Music Past" (Apr 2011) 
From Tin Pan Alley to Deep South and Piedmont soul, from folk-singer musings to rock-band remakes, it's all here. Berchtold and Stear show that there isn't much they won't try, and less still that they can't do well. 

"Live on GLT!" (Feb 2007) David's 3rd CD. Acoustic fingerstyle with folk, blues, and country blues flavors, played by a 30 veteran of acoustic guitar and captured live, on the air, in the studio at WGLT 89.3 FM. 

"The Cliffhangers!" (May '04) features David with fellow pickers Cliff Anglen on mandolin and dobro, and Dave Fryer and Gary Dickson on acoustic guitar. Recorded in a single evening, this live set of six songs captures the fun of good friends playing great acoustic music. 

"Things I've Seen" (Feb '04) A tasty mix of acoustic finger picking instrumentals and songs about life. 

See David's website for reviews



When done well, fingerpicking a guitar looks so easy anybody could do it. But the task of convincing several digits to make music while moving simultaneously in different, yet coordinated directions, when it appears effortless, takes a good deal of concentration and practice. David Berchtold, an acoustic guitarist for more than 40 years, makes the process seem like spreading butter on hot bread as he picks the six-string with melody and rhythm while singing.

Blessed with more than an hours worth of original songs, the Illinois native also chimes in with tunes from the cream of the fingerpicking crowd, including Chet Atkins, Doc Watson, Rev. Gary Davis, Leo Kottke, John Fahey and others. Hes made three visits to the Fur Peace Ranch guitar camp, founded and run by another of the greats, Jorma Kaukonen, performing at the student concerts and once playing along with Jorma. Expect a range of rock and folk standards including music from The Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, Doobie Brothers, Bob Dylan, JJ Cale, Grateful Dead and others to pop into the varied song list of this talented performer.

(by Tom Irwin, Illinois Times)

Recent performances of note include: opening for Joe Bonamasa, C/U Folk and Roots Festival, Hickory Ridge Concert Series, Sugar Creek Arts Festival, and Concerts in the Woods.

David is occasionally accompanied by one or more of these fine musicians:
- Brian Stear: Harmonica, Mandolin, Guitar, Vocals, Washboard
- Chris Kaufman: Upright Bass
- Tater: Fretless Electric Bass
- Bruce Bergethon: Violin/Fiddle, Mandolin

Band Members