CD: Pete Berwick – The Legend Of Tyler Doohan

Proof Is in The Whiskey
New Release From Pete Berwick’s Album, The Legend Of Tyler Doohan
may not be rich and famous, but a life well-lived is the best
Dylan meets David Allan Coe down at the old crossroads and beat the
hell out of the devil himself. That is what you will find when you
fire up Pete Berwick’s new CD. Do you want me to prove it? Well, I
don’t have to, the proof is in the whiskey and if that ain’t Outlaw
Country then I’ll kiss your rebel ass.
had the pleasure of talking by phone with the rambunctious and
outspoken Pete Berwick about his new album,
Legend of Tyler Doohan

and the first single release from the EP,
Proof Is in The Whiskey
thirty-five years and five albums I had pretty much had it with
writing songs and putting out records and touring,” Berwick
confessed. “Then one day, two winters ago, I read a news story
about a little kid in upstate New York who saved six family members
in a trailer fire, went back in and tried to get his disabled
grandfather out, but didn’t make it. This story of bravery and the
courage of this brave little boy touched my heart. I figured if he
didn’t quit under pressure, why should I, so I wrote a song about it,
resurrected some other songs, old and new that I had yet to record,
signed a record deal with Little Class Records in Kansas City, and
here it is, my sixth album, and what I can honestly say, is my best
Pete’s albums have all been critically acclaimed, that is saying an
awful lot. His 2007 release
No Train Outta Nashville
actually recorded on Music Row in Nashville in 1992 but shelved and
forgotten, peaked at #5 on Cross Country Radio (now Outlaw Radio) on
XM Satellite, and at least a couple of his albums made the top ten
releases of the year in several national newspapers. Over a dozen of
Pete’s songs have been placed in movies and television.
history is long and complex. “I have also written four novels,
my first one,
Bar Singer
pretty much tells it all, and though fiction, my life story is all
there,” Berwick recalls. “My very first ‘band’ was around 1975 in
Florida. Me and this drummer friend would go into the high school
locker room shower and he would bang on the wall with his sticks and
I would pound on my cheap guitar and the acoustics in the shower
stall would make us sound electric. That was the official start of it
moving back to Illinois from Florida, and investing fifteen years of
trying to build a name performing original songs in the
culturally-challenged sports bars of Chicago, Berwick made the move
to Nashville in 1990, where he wasted little time. He signed a record
deal with Bitter Creek Records, and recorded his most successful
No Train Outta Nashville
then assembled his band,
Nashville Underground

and hit the road, garnering opening slots for Charlie Daniels and
other Nashville legends.
say one of the greatest inspirations in my life was the advice
Charlie Daniels gave me backstage after a show,” Berwick said.
“He told me to just be myself and to hell with what anyone
thought, and that is the life I have been living ever since,”
Berwick says.
Berwick’s album deal ran its course, he and his wife Denise purchased
seven acres in Dixon County and Pete took some time to reflect on
where he had been and his next move.
was around 1995, and after pushing this horse uphill for almost
twenty years I had pretty much had it. I knew I had a lot more in me,
but I was tired of the politics on Music Row, and the music I was
writing wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms in most places. My
music had been labeled “cowpunk,” and to this day my
critics give me credit for being one of the pioneers of this style,
along with Jason and the Scorchers and others, but there is so much
more to my music than any one genre.”
soon moved back to Northern Illinois, where he has been based
since—touring, recording and penning his novels. He is also an
amateur boxer. “People ask me how I can stand getting hit in the
face,” Berwick laughs, “but I actually enjoy it. It makes
me feel alive. At 57years-old I am not supposed to be boxing. But
this is how I have lived my life, doing the exact opposite of what
others tell me I am not supposed to do. You know, you’re not supposed
to do anything but have a real job, and you have to have something
realistic to fall back on, and all of that crap. I may not be rich
and famous, but a life well-lived is the best revenge. And I have
proved my naysayers wrong time and time again. There are those who
can’t deal at all with the fact that I am still standing after almost
four decades in the trenches, and this pleases me very much.”
2009, Berwick managed to gain the attention of ABC, and appeared on
the reality show
“They wanted to do something different after so many episodes of
the clean wife versus the dirty wife, and feature a family in the
entertainment business. I gave them what they wanted, but it was sort
of hard, getting my gigs done with the replacement wife locking away
my guitars. The money from the show helped finance my next two
albums, and brought me some new fans, but it’s truly not my favorite
subject. People will come up to me now and then all excited because
they recognize me from the show, which to my chagrin continues to be
re-run. I’ll tell them, ‘Hey, I have six albums and four novels
out, you know,’ and all they will want to know is how real the show
actually is. Fifteen minutes of fame is about as cheap as it sounds.”
newest album is a hard-hitting introspective collection of his best
songwriting to date. Victory and defeat, love and hate, hope and
futility, damnation and redemption, life and death—it’s all there,
in all of its ragged and bloody heart-felt glory, all to the backdrop
of a musical tapestry and roller coaster ride in his typical
genre-defying style of country meets punk meets rock n’ roll meets
rockabilly meets folk meets anthemic ballads.
can hear Neil Diamond as well as The Clash on this thing,”
“I never give much thought to how it all comes out in the end. I
leave that for the reviewers and critics whose job it is to explain
it all and define it. I just write them as they come. In the end, I’m
just a song and dance man.”
Proof is in the Whiskey

is currently being released to radio as the single, and is fast
becoming the stand-out cut on the album.
am really proud of that song,” says Berwick. “Hard-working
songwriter, Joe Kent had been after me for a while to do some
co-writing. I had only co-written about one other song on my records,
and that guy went on and got himself a George Jones cut shortly
after. Joe (Kent) and I wrote
Proof is in the Whiskey
and dammit if Joe didn’t land a Hank Williams Jr. cut, titled
Party’s On

almost the same week. My co-writers tend to have themselves a bit of
luck, and I am more than glad to spread what I can. That’s all we
songwriters are, Johnny Appleseeds. We plant songs and emotions, and
hope to see something grow from it all.”
Pete has certainly planted a lot of seeds in his nearly four decades
of picking out a living on his old guitar. He has his entire life’s
work available at
including his latest effort with Little Class Records,
Legend Of Tyler Doohan.
became a fan of this renegade artist over a year ago and purchased a
box set that includes five albums and four novels. I was thoroughly
entertained for months for less than $50. So naturally I was one of
the first people to order
Legend Of Tyler Doohan

and received it as soon as it was released. My favorite novel by
Berwick is
Bar Singer

which is a literary ride down a lost highway through Hell with the
devil riding shotgun. It’s a helluva ride so fasten your seat belts.
When it comes to Pete’s music, I had always favored the song

until this new album when I heard
Proof Is InThe Whiskey.

Berwick really outdid himself with that one and it is now locked and
loaded into my CD player for speed queuing whenever the notion
strikes me, which is quite often.
Berwick is proving that his future is in another round, and the proof
is in the whiskey. 
Joe Kent for Country Music News International Magazine 

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