Discography

Phil has released four albums to date. Phil recorded the first two albums, "The High Rollers" and "High Time," with the High Rollers, the band he founded in 1996. The two most recent CDs, “All Night Party” and “Phil Berkowitz Plays … Louis' Blues: The Music of Louis Jordan,” are solo albums on which Phil is joined by other leading Bay Area blues musicians.

Here you can read Phil's comments about the albums and listen to samples of all the songs on "Louis' Blues" and "High Time."

All Night Party

"All Night Party" CD cover

Here it is, folks! My fourth official CD. It was a long time coming, but I'm very proud of the results. Unlike the last CD, “Louis' Blues,” this CD contains eight original songs. I would have to say that this represents the most diverse range of styles of all my recordings to date. Three of these songs I co-wrote with the great Danny Caron. Danny also co-produced this recording and even lends some of his guitar playing ability to a couple of the songs.

There were some great musicians who contributed to this recording. My good friend, Sean Carney, plays on several of these songs. As a matter of fact, I traveled to Sean's hometown of Columbus, Ohio in 2007 to begin working on this recording with his band of Merry Man. The weather went from 80 degrees to snowing in the 30's while I was there. That's April in Ohio for ya! One of the songs we recorded, “Straight Up,” is featured here as the second track. Sean is a great person as well as a gifted performer who is quickly becoming a renowned figure in the blues world. Also featured on the CD is the inimitable Bill Stuve, veteran bassist who worked with the legendary Rod Piazza for over thirty years. I am very grateful to the talented core group of Bay Area musicians who played on most of the tracks: Tim Wagar, Bowen Brown, William Beatty, and Marvin Greene. There are also some great horn parts from Jeff “Irv” Irvin, Robert Dehlinger, and Doug Rowan. Doug actually played on my 2001 recording with The High Rollers. Also a special thanks to the engineer, David Bell, and the vocal abilities of Craig Knudsen.

The ideas for these songs came to me over a long period of time. Some of them more personal than others. I knew for a while that “All Night Party” would be the main theme as well as the opening track. And “The Party's Over” would appropriately be the closer. Ghost Child, Tonka T and Ginger T were inspired by my dearly departed mother, my dearly departed dog and my strong-willed “medicinal” wife (in that order). “Midnight Rooster” was something I wrote while in Mexico back in 2003. I guess you could say it's a commentary on the sustaining and unwavering life-force of the blues in a rapidly changing world. “Beach Bar Boogie” was inspired by my trip to St. John in 2007 where I got to play with and see great artists like Chubby Carrier, Mitch Woods, and Tab Benoit. The song is undeniably New Orleans, a style that best conveys my experience there. The cover songs here gave me an opportunity to pay tribute to some of my idols: Jimmy T-99 Nelson, Ray Charles, Billy Boy Arnold, Louis Jordan, and Earl King … five huge blues icons who have influenced and inspired my music in many ways over the years.

So there you have it. A musical story containing many characters and themes from my life. I am confident that you will enjoy it as much as I did in bringing it to you. And remember, when the “Party” is over, there will always be a new one waiting for you just around the corner!

Songs on the CD

  1. All Night Party (5:41)
  2. Straight Up (4:06)
  3. Tonka T (3:41)
  4. Ghost Child (4:40)
  5. Always A First Time (3:35)
  6. Ginger T (3:57)
  7. Beach Bar Boogie (3:49)
  8. Fine Little Honey Dripper (3:31)
  9. If You Were Mine (5:02)
  10. Here’s My Picture (3:09)
  11. She’s My Baby (3:51)
  12. I Want A Roof Over My Head (2:38)
  13. Midnight Rooster (5:32)
  14. The Party’s Over (5:15)

(click on the Listen button to hear samples of the songs)

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Phil Berkowitz Plays … Louis' Blues:
The Music of Louis Jordan

"Louis' Blues" CD cover

This is my best album yet! Don't all artists say that about their most current work? But seriously, I put the most amount of my time & effort into this project and I'm very proud of the results.

About a year and a half ago, I had expressed to my friend & mentor Danny Caron that as a harmonica player, it would be cool to do a recording of Louis Jordan songs. He agreed with me and decided to not only play on it, but also help me produce it. It was quite a challenge interpreting Jordan's material. He truly was the master at delivering fluid lines on his ax as well as seemingly effortless phrasing & timing on his vocals; all of it replete with the uncanny humorous charm that gave his performances legendary status.

I used all new musical personnel, three of the six members from the Bay area swing group Stompy Jones. I guess it goes without saying that this material was right up their alley. Scott Lawerence on piano, Bowen Brown on drums, & "Little" David Rose on bass. I recorded again at Bellboy (Dave Bell even backs me up vocally on "Blue Light Boogie"). My wife, Ginger, provides some great back-up harmonies (and hand claps) on "A Dollar Down" as well as "Cat Scratchin'."

I alternated between using my Bassman and my little 1x15 Supro amplifier. I got a good effect with the Supro by indirectly miking it on " … Outskirts of Town." Blistering guitar from Danny on "Caldonia"; I also managed to get a nice gritty metallic tone through my Supro on that tune. I guess you could call it "Caldonia on Steroids!"

Songs on the CD

  1. Salt Pork, West Virginia (2:46)
  2. Let the Good Times Roll (3:15)
  3. I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town (4:32)
  4. A Dollar Down (2:50)
  5. Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby (3:38)
  6. Caldonia (2:50)
  7. Do You Call That a Buddy? (Dirty Cat) (4:37)
  8. Cat Scratchin’ (2:51)
  9. Blue Light Boogie (5:15)
  10. If You’re So Smart, How Come You Ain’t Rich? (2:59)
  11. Early in the Morning (5:10)
  12. Choo Choo Ch’ Boogie (2:38)
  13. Three-Handed Woman (3:46)
  14. Saturday Night Fish Fry (5:13)

(click on the Listen button to hear samples of the songs)

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High Time

"High Time" CD cover

This was my transition album, both personally and professionally. By writing nine out of the twelve songs on it myself (with some help from Danny Caron), it was the first time I felt I could really express myself creatively from my own life-experiences. At the time, band personnel was changing, my life was changing. I got married shortly before we recorded it. It seemed like there was a lot of turmoil going on.

We recorded it at Bellboy Recording in Richmond, California, summer of 2001. We still had Des and Elvis playing with us, but this time there were a bunch of other participants. A couple of great horn players (Doug Rowan & Spazz) as well as a phenomenal New Orleans influenced piano guy named Tom Whitehead (former workshop instructor) on "Before You Go." My wife, Ginger T., sings lead vocal on "5-10-15 Hours."

We also had a guy originally from Poland, Pavel Kuczera, play some fine piano on at least six of the tracks. He had approached me one night in a drunken stupor when we were playing at the old Paradise Lounge in the city, and said that we were in desperate need of a piano player and that he could play just like Otis Spahn. At the time, I was thinking "Yeah … Right!" Boy, did he prove me wrong!

Songs on the CD

  1. 24-7 Man (3:50)
  2. Before You Go (3:36)
  3. Don't Go There (4:21)
  4. Flexible Flyer (3:49)
  5. Ain’t No Big Deal (3:54)
  6. 5-10-15 Hours (4:41)
  7. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (5:15)
  8. Washing Machine Blues (3:41)
  9. Sometimes (6:09)
  10. Dark Is the Night (4:44)
  11. That Extra Mile (5:22)
  12. High Time (3:00)

(click on the Listen button to hear samples of the songs)

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The High Rollers

"The High Rollers" CD cover

This was our very first CD recording. A friend of ours, Harold Day, a great 60s, 70s, & 80s R&B influenced guitar player, let us use his tiny cluttered 10 x 15 rehearsal space in San Francisco to record it. I believe we paid only $300 to do the whole thing. Again, we had friends of the band, Dave Belknap (photography) & Sally Quirk Mills (graphic art, which I still like best of all to date), help us put it together for free. I guess you could call it the quintessential low-budget album. This was our rough & ready band that played together from 1999 to 2002. Des on bass and Elvis Johnson on drums. Gary Christiansen also did a great job playing drums on "Rocket 88" and "Going Home."

This CD is presently out of print and unavailable.

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