Blues Bytes

May 9, 2011 | By Graham Clarke

New York guitarist Chris Bergson has backed jazz singers Annie Ross, Dena DeRose, Sasha Dobson, and Norah Jones over the past fifteen years, but has also released his own recordings during that time, including the well-received Fall Changes in 2007, Blessed with an expressive vocal style, impressive guitar chops, and a talent for songwriting that encompasses blues, folk, and pop, Bergson is rightly considered to be an artist of the future in the blues. Based on his latest release for 2 Shirts Records, Imitat
e The Sun, all indications read that the future may be now.

Bergson has spent time playing in drummer Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble shows in Woodstock, NY, and it's easy to see the influence of The Band on his latest release, especially on the opener, "Goin' Home." The title track is deep soul with a great sax solo from Jay Collins, keyboards from guest Bruce Katz, and Bergson's spot-on guitar work. Bergson also shines with some shimmering slide guitar and a vulnerable vocal on the solo on "Shattered Avenue," and "Hello Bertha" is a supple slice of Memphis soul. The funky "Mr. Jackson" is another original track that stands out. "Laying It Down In White" is a plaintive blues ballad with a heartfelt vocal and lovely guitar.

Bergson also does four covers..for blues fans, a pair of familiar tunes (Howlin' Wolf's "Down In The Bottom" and a sharp version of "Dust My Broom," minus slide guitar ) and a not-so-familiar pair (a cool take on Bessie Smith's "You've Been A Good Wagon" and an emotionally-charged reading of Bob Dylan's "Standing in the Doorway").

Hearing Imitate The Sun, it's hard to figure why Chris Bergson isn't better known in blues circles. Maybe that relative anonymity has allowed him to continue to develop his refreshing vision of the blues, mixed with soul, folk, rock and pop undisturbed. Whatever the reason may be, it's hard to imagine him remaining anonymous for much longer. Seek this one out, by all means.