That Guy Was Fun
Jefferson's Solo Folksy Version
Jefferson Berry & the UAC
Americana Folk Rock
for Urban Living
Jefferson Berry & the UAC
In 2006, at around 3am at the Falcon Ridge Festival, Jefferson and his banjo playing brother Hank were playing a Hillbilly version of “White Room” by Cream. In fest-jam fashion, each vocal verse was separated by an instrumental-lead verse. Out and of the shadows and into the light of the campfire came this guy with a mandolin and long red hair, playing the song’s iconic Clapton lead pretty much verbatim. As the sun was coming up, Jefferson asked Bud Burroughs if he wanted to start a band and Hippies and Hillbillies was born. The album Drumless America was recorded in Bud’s living room: a quirky mix of covers ranging from Robert Earl Keen and Townes Van Zandt to Neil Young and U2, the show and CD was fun for some, but considered blasphemous at the bluegrass festivals the band played.
Bud and Jefferson’s next venture involved Jefferson’s daughter. Briana Berry and her sister were raised at the summer festivals—Kerrville, Falcon Ridge, XFS and Philly. The Berry’s 2009 album, Fairmount Station featured songs written by Briana and her Dad. It was promoted nationally to radio by Powderfinger Promotions and charted fairly high for an independent release on the folk charts. The band played X-Fest and the Philadelphia Folk Festival that year.
The Urban Acoustic Coalition came to be in 2014 with the release of Guitar on the River. Again, Bud Burroughs served as the music director for a collection of Jefferson’s city-themed songs. Recorded at MelodyVision by Rodney Whittenberg, the album’s sessions grew the band. Jefferson Berry and the Urban Acoustic Coalition (a mouthful) played the Camp Stage at the Philadelphia Folk Festival that year with a Coalition of players from Boris Garcia, Bad Sister and Beaufort. This was an example of the “coalition” aspect of the band, an ethic that allowed players to keep their other projects alive while clearing dates with the UAC periodically. While bass players (Billy Hyatt, Dean McNulty) and female vocalists (Irene Lambrou, Emily Drinker) have cycled in and out of the band to pursue their own projects, the core of the coalition for the past six years has been Jefferson, Bud, Marky B! Berkowitz (on harmonica), Dave Brown (on banjo, guitar, keys and anything else needed), David Rapoport (on drums).
Jefferson connected with Smoking in Elevators, a book of poetry by Charlie O’Hay. Not wanting to deface this beat-poet’s art, Jefferson reached out to Charlie and he suggested the band use whatever we wanted of his work, like “helping yourself to parts from up under the car on blocks on the front lawn.” Dark in its tone and topics, The Habit was the Jefferson’s first project recorded at Kawari Sound with Matt Muir. As with the previous three records, Jefferson included arrangements of local songwriters’ tunes. “Responsibility” by Meghan Cary was such a song on The Habit, just as “King Midas” by Skip Denenberg had been on Guitar on the River; both duets with Irene Lambrou. For the past several years, Jefferson has hosted the “Cover your Friends” showcase at the annual NERFA Conference.
Filling venues with a coalition of three to six players, UAC shows are dynamic performances of songs about the city, the good love/bad love and these strange times. Double Deadbolt Logic will release in April, 2020 and continues Berry’s danceable style and contemporary point of view to a unique wing of Philadelphia’s local music scene.