Elmore Magazine

by Kay Cordtz | September / October 2011

Chris Bergson has a reputation as a New York guitar ace, but he is also a clever songwriter who draws inspiration from many sources. The title and protagonist of one track on his new CD arose from a conversation with a friend's young daughter, who curiously named her doll "Hello Bertha." In Bergson's hands, the song became a mysterious tribute to a sketchy woman who somehow "Manages to keep that smile on her face/Listening to a week's worth of lies." More than half of the numbers here are original compositions with equally interesting backstories. Bergson and his band also deliver great versions of some old blues tunes that aren't covered nearly often enough. Willie Dixon's "Down in the Bottom" and "You've Been A Good Old Wagon," most often associated with Bessie Smith, are just two examples.

Every track features Bergson's passionate vocals and fiery guitar, but most also have moments of brilliance from Jay Collins on sax, Bruce Katz on keys and the funky rhythm section of drummer Tony Leone and bassist Matt Clohesy. Closing the record, Bergson's vocal and guitar on Bob Dylan's "Standing in the Doorway" is drop-dead gorgeous.