Have you ever heard of Alex Berkley? The folkie singer/songwriter has been a local staple for some time and is normally found with his classical guitar on a quiet weekday night on Allen Street or playing a hushed living room somewhere on the west side of town. Fans of Mountain Goats and the Weakerthans would find Berkley’s quirky and, at times, sardonic wordplay right up their alley.
Take some time to poke around Berkley’s Bandcamp page and you will find an eclectic assortment of releases, from an early holiday album for friends and family to an homage EP for his beloved “Star Trek” films which allowed the musician to get down with his inner geekdom to the flat out great “Lists and Listlessness.”
His most ambitious releases, though, would have to be his two (and I would assume counting) albums coinciding with the annual Fun-a-Day project. Put on by local DIY collective Sugar City, Fun-a-Day asks you to do something fun, interesting and artistic every day during February. Following the month, a showcase is held to display the various works of creativity.
Berkley’s first Fun-a-Day installment, “28 Days of Fun,” found the mild manner musician creating a unique song for every day of the month, clearly not a project for those suffering some the occasional writer’s block.
Then there’s “28 Days of Fun 2: Sick of the Sounds of My Voice." The standout track, “In His Hands,” bounces between genres nearly as often as an out-of-nowhere name gets dropped (Edward Snowden anyone?), only to be capped off by a clever nod to the Beatles on the song’s touching conclusion. The album’s diary installments (again recorded daily) tie together mostly mundane, everyday occurrences of the writer’s life during the another rough winter in Buffalo. It’s a nice look at a week-in-the-life of an Elmwood Village every man that nearly anyone can relate to.
At times, Berkley has looked to flesh out his sound. A few years back, he gathered up a backing band, the Atlanta Falcons, comprised of Buffalo music mainstays: Sonny Baker (Wooden Waves, Lazlo Hollyfled, A Hotel Nourishing), Colin Griffin (Parade Chic, Bear Exchange) and Billy Fulton (Aye Karou, Wooden Waves). The Falcons were an excuse for Berkley to plug in and give some of his solo work a bit of an oomph.
The quartet ended its prolonged “off season” early in 2014, and sprinkled in the occasional show throughout the year, included a spring Porchfest set as part of the Elmwood Village’s seasonal festival and a headlining slot at the buffaBLOG fourth birthday party back in March. Schedules allowing, Berkley would like to get the team in the studio to record an album.
“I’m hoping to do an Atlanta Falcons record with Brandon Schlia (Steak and Cake), though everyone in the group has been super busy recently. I’ve still have to get in touch with him about setting some kind of recording date, but I’m thinking that’s going be about eight songs long.”
First comes first, though. New solo work, while still in its early stages, is on the way.
“I’ve been working on about 10 new songs for an acoustic record,” he teased. “So far, only two of the songs are completely finished being written.”
Listen to “In His Hands” below.
Mac McGuire is editor of buffaBLOG.com