Singer-songwriter David Berkeley hopes for connection with audience at next Yellow City Sounds Live show
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By Chip Chandler — Producer
It took a while, but singer-songwriter David Berkeley eventually realized he wasn't the only one communicating at his shows.
"I think you go through a lot of your career and don't necessarily think about the audience and what they're going through and what brought them to the room that night," the Santa Fe-based musician said. "You just think about your songs.
"But the more I do this, the more I think about the connection," Berkeley continued. "I'm grateful to play my music and have people there to listen, and I want to value their time and their emotional world and not just push mine on them."
Berkeley will be communicating again with an Amarillo audience when he headlines the next Yellow City Sounds Live concert at 7 p.m. Friday in the Panhandle PBS studio, 2408 S. Jackson St.
The concert — a joint production of Panhandle PBS and FM90 — is free with a suggested donation of $10. Seating is limited, and tickets, which can be picked up at the studio or reserved online, are required. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Berkeley said he's excited to play for the intimate studio audience.
"In a smaller room, it's easy to think of it as a conversation even if you're the one doing most of the talking," he said. "I try to be very present every night, and in a smaller room, that's easier.
"And from an audience's perspective, they feel like they're getting more of you, and that's a nice thing."
The Americana singer-songwriter, winner of the 2015 Kerrville New Folk competition and ASCAP's Johnny Mercer Songwriting Award, has taught public school in Brooklyn, floated around as a river-raft guide in Idaho and once lived a year on the island of Corsica. His degree in literature from Harvard contributes not only to his lyrical output on his albums, but also to his second career as an author. Lately, he has devoted much of his time to a side project, a duo called Son of Town Hall that mixes elements of performance art with his folk songwriting.
"It is so different that it doesn't infringe on my turf as a writer," Berkeley said. "It's very clear when I sit down to write whether I'm writing a Son of Town Hall song or a David Berkeley song. ... Son of Town Hall is more of an act through and through, whereas I feel I've worked hard throughout my own career to put the act aside and be as honest and as emotionally accessible as I can brave to be."
That level of emotional honesty sometimes requires Berkeley to broach sensitive subjects, putting him on occasionally tricky ground.
"Things are really polarized, and that makes it challenging because I think everybody's emotions are so much more heightened," he said. "I'm not really interested in making people angry, but on the other hand, I have strong views and believe in those views and, to a certain extent, want people to see the world the way I do.
"It's not easy to write songs that speak to what's going on in a way that doesn't alienate," he continued. "But with at least a couple of the new ones, I've hit a place that I'm really proud of.
"Behind all of those surface differences, I'm trying to tap into a more universal place of love. ... I think that's the project now — to try to get back to places where we have some more commonality. It's scary to think that we may not, but I think the project is about going deeper and deeper until we can hit that place."