Green Apple Festival: Wrap-Up Party
For nearly thirty years, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band has defined and redefined the New Orleans sound on sparkling, genre-busting albums; in thousands of concerts in all parts of the globe; and as in-demand collaborators for everyone from traditional revivalist Danny Barker to space-age rock star David Bowie. Just listen to the first few notes of pretty much any song included here. Kirk Joseph's extra-funky sousaphone, the skittering percussion and the way the brass ensemble shifts from loose conversational play to massive power in the span of a chorus and there's no mystery to why so large and varied a roster of stars has come a-calling.
In the course, the Dirty Dozen have bridged the traditions of brass bands stretching back a century with the most modern of musical ideas taken from jazz and even classical formats. They've become the godfathers to several younger generations who have made the scene more vibrant than ever with their own unique twists. And they took New Orleans music to places it had never gone before.
For nearly a decade Michael Harrison Berg of Van Ghost was a behind the scenes type of guy. Having poured his energy into his ventures as a concert promoter and band manager, little was left over for personal creative endeavors.
That all changed in 2007 when Berg's close friends encouraged him to revisit the acoustic guitar he put down in his younger days and asked him to perform a song at their wedding. Melding the inspiration from the many talented bands he has worked with and his own passion for music, the singer returned to his roots. He began writing songs, drawing from his life experiences, creating a heartfelt and staggeringly honest perspective. After building up a solid repertoire of folk ballads, gritty alt country tunes and classic rock laced jams, Berg assembled an all-star cast of musicians and named the project Van Ghost.
With an exquisite eight piece band flavored with pedal steel guitars and haunting guy/girl harmonies, the band played it's debut show before a packed audience at Chicago's revered Metro in January 2008. It was an auspicious beginning for one of Chicago's most promising new acts.
With plans for a record and a national tour, Berg has established that he is as comfortable operating under the spotlight as he is behind the curtain. With Van Ghost he sets out to inspire music fans the same as other artists have inspired him-- one song at a time.