SongVault Artist Profile
Illinois, United States
Alternative Country / Americana
"Imagine a run-down bar somewhere along the road packed with truckers shooting pool, smoking and drinking beer. Someone is passed out in the men's room, a couple of guys are fighting out front while others are playing stud or dancing with the local girls. The sound from the jukebox is more than likely to sound something like Pete Berwick." So wrote Christer Davidson of Mutinyzine Magazine. "Hard edged and whiskey infused" is how one radio DJ described Pete Berwick's music, and music critic Rev. Keith Gordon, former contributor to Creem Magazine wrote, "Berwick pens his own reality and, much like Hank, Waylon, Towness Van Zandt and Steve Earle, his songs are inhabited by heartbreak, humor, insight and emotion." The UK's Maverick Magazine mirrored that sentiment, writing, "Berwick's songs are dark, sad, funny, spooky, hell raising, facinating and always interesting, and Chuck Eddy, senior editor for Billboard magazine and former writer for Rolling Stone wrote, "Pete Berwick, an Illinois roughneck who has somehow fallen through the cracks, writes songs that rock right through their platitudes.
Berwick's journey began in Illinois in the mid seventies, hammering out irreverant country, roots rock and reckless honky tonk rave ups night after night to anyone in the midwest who cared to listen. Then after after almost fifteen years of non stop performing he headed to Nashville with a fistful of songs and the clothes on his back. By the time Berwick arrived in the music city, Steve Earle was on his way to jail and Jason & the Scorchers had broken up. Signed by an up and coming independent record label in the heart of music row, Berwick was heralded by many in town as the one to run with the cowpunk gauntlet left at the roadside. After years of belting it out in biker bars and nowhere dives, Pete now found himself opening shows for Charlie Daniels, Doug Kershaw, and other musical legends. He was invited to make cameo appearances in music videos by The Kentucky Headhunters and Travis Tritt, and also appeared on a commercial for Monday night Football. But as fast as luck goes up in Nashville, it comes down even faster. The promising record deal went bust, but not before the recording of the critically acclaimed "Ain't No Train Outta Nashville." Recorded in Waylon Jennings old studio, The album was shelved in 1991 due to contractual disputes and economic hardships. Disgusted with the politics of the music industry, Pete bought several acres of land fourty miles east of Nashville and resigned to shooting his guns, writing some of the songs that would become his third album "Just Another Day In Hell" and working at the local factory.
Berwick later moved back to his hometown in northern Illinois, and free from the publishing and other legal disputes tying up the album, he released "Ain't No Train Outta Nashville" on his own label in 2007. From there it shot to #5 on Cross Country Satellite Radio and #20 on The Roots Music Report Charts, and the title song appeared in Paramount Pictures "The Thing Called Love" starring River Phoenix. Prior to releasing "Ain't No Train Outta Nashville" Berwick recorded and released also on his own label "Only Bleeding" with Brian Wilson bassist Bob Lizic, and as the critical acclaim started pouring in, he hit the road once more in support of both albums.
It's been over thirty years since Pete Berwick stepped on a stage for the first time, and thousands of shows and two albums later he has delivered his third recording, "Just another Day In Hell". An eighteen song epic of non fictional tales which colorfully and often brutally describes the trials and hardships left behind on the long hard trail, "Just Another Day In Hell" is Pete Berwick's biography and heart and soul worn on his tattered sleeve. From shattered relationships, broken dreams and drug abuse, to prison walls and battles with angels and demons, this is as real as it gets. Pete's rough and ready vocals spit out stark tales of heartache, pain and redemption, and just like life, the endings aren't always pretty.
Unlike the country music hacks of Nashville today who are judged more on their poster appeal than the merits of their music, Berwick is not afraid to take the listener to that dark side, that desolate and heartbreaking place where dreams die hard. Performing on the album are Berwick's former band mates, guitarist Rick Devries, bassist Nick Verbic, and drummer Rob Sury. "The last thing I wanted was the slick Nashville sound'' said Berwick."I wanted to capture what it really sounded and smelled like on the road and in the trenches of life, and I knew no better way then with my old band. "These guys stood behind me for years as we played dump after dump for half a dozen drunks and an occasional dog, and this album tells some of those stories in all their beer drenched glory."
Though well below the radar throughout most of his career, Berwick's die-hard spirit and gritty songs have earned him due respect from critcs and fans weary of the cookie cutter fluff churned out by the country music industry, and his albums have earned several top ten album of the year awards, and americana artist of the year awards.
Like the country outlaws before him, Berwick lives the songs and then writes about them, and from the titles on his new album it's obvious the living hasn't always been easy. The only things that ever did come easy for this fifty one year old veteran are the hard breaks, yet Pete Berwick carries on down the road less travelled regardless of the potholes and roadblocks. Call it roots rock, call it americana, call it alternative country or call it cowpunk. In the end, it's "Just Another Day In Hell."