Who is your greatest inspiration?
Originally it was Roy Clark and Jim Croce. I remember seeing a close up of Roy Clark’s fingers playing the banjo on 'Hee-Haw' when I was a kid and thinking, “How does he DO that??” I couldn’t see how it was possible to accurately and rhythmically move one’s fingers that fast and wanted to get a banjo, if nothing else, just to find out how he did it (which I finally did my junior year of college). After that it was seeing Jim Croce play “Operator” on some TV show back in the 70’s. I was mesmerized by how beautiful the song was and how just him and his partner could make two guitars sound like a symphony. He also made it made it look completely effortless (check it out on YouTube) which I thought was amazing.
Do you have a favorite song on the new album?
The one that most people seem to comment on is “That Man Is My Wife”. I wanted to write an Irish drinking number and listened to a few Irish songs to come up with a melody. After that, I came up with the idea of a man losing his wife to another man who turns out to be his wife because she got a sex change but they end up becoming best buddies. You know, just another typical song about true love.
Melodically my favorite is “I Only Know”. I originally thought it was just an instrumental because I just couldn’t come up with any words for it but was inspired to write a story from looking at a large detailed photograph I have on my wall of a town on the coast of Italy called Vernazza. I wanted to write something that would put the listener in that town but couldn’t come up with the story. I finally realized it needed a female perspective so I met with my fellow Austin songwriter Christie Moore and we came up with the lyrics in a couple of sessions in her living room.
Tell us about the poem at the end of the album - "Star in my Jar."
I wrote this when my daughter was 9. She had been out trying to catch fireflies one night and the thought came to me of her jumping up and catching a star instead of a firefly. I printed out a copy and stuck in a file, which I’m glad I did because I could never find it again on my computer. About the time I was finishing up the album, I came across the poem and thought I’d go record it at the studio and see how it sounded on the brand new $5,000 microphone Matt just purchased. I recorded it in one take and thought it sounded pretty good and Matt suggested making it a bonus track. The theme of my CD was not to have a theme so I thought why not add a poem? We also had a lot of fun coming up with some groovy sounds to go with it.
Favorite Restaurant in Austin?
Probably Hecho En Mexico. A really good family owned restaurant close to my house that specializes in cuisine from central Mexico. I was talking to the manager the other day and he said their mole sauce has 27 ingredients and takes a full day to make. Good stuff.
Stranded on an island, what are your three "must haves"?
My guitar, a huge box of waterproof matches, and a hammock.
What is next for Don Berryhill?
I have my CD release party scheduled for April 15th at the Saxon pub in Austin. I feel pretty lucky scoring the Saxon for my first real debut of the songs since it’s a pretty iconic venue in Austin. Other than just, for now just playing the occasional open mic and jamming with a group of friends on a pretty regular basis. I hope to start booking some various gigs soon. I have a bunch of CD’s I need to sell!
Buy "Timeless Classics" by Don Berryhill on:
Whether you’re looking for an Irish drinking song, a Caribbean buzz ballad, or a folksy summertime melody, Don Berryhills new album “Timeless Classics” has got you covered. This twelve song adventure showcases Don’s many talents and styles of songwriting and is, quite literally, music to your ears. If you long for an album that is heartfelt, funny, and full of surprises – this is the album for you.
What artists do you compare your style to?
I’m having a hard time coming up with an answer for that one. I try not to sound like anyone else but originally thought I sounded just like James Taylor, John Prine, and Jimmy Buffett. Until I recorded myself.
How was working with Matt Smith at Six String Ranch?
Matt is great. Originally, I went in to get a guitar lesson from him and the next thing I knew I was making an album. He convinced me I could do some things I didn’t know I was capable of. He’s a natural teacher with a wealth of experience and talent. He can quickly assess a person’s skill level and weaknesses to come up with a plan of action and then pushes just enough to create a breakthrough in becoming a better player and performer.
Of all the eclectic songs on the album, which style most represents you?
I hate to say this but, since we’re talking eclectic, probably “If I Were a Girl” which is about a man with a split personality disorder who imagines what it would be like if he was a girl and dated himself. I wrote “That Man is My Wife” after this one and was starting to get concerned this was going to become my niche. I like the song because it’s fun to play, is pretty original, and came to me totally out of left field which is how I figure it’s supposed to be. I was hiking in the Grand Canyon with a buddy and just knew while trekking through that majestic landscape I would be inspired to write some kind of classic Marty Robbins style ballad but this landed on my head like a rock. I remember thinking, “No I don’t want you, you have the wrong guy, go away, go be with someone else!” It wouldn’t leave me alone so I finally wrote it down. When my friend asked me if I had come up with any song ideas I said "yes, but I’m not telling you until we’re out of here."
What musician or artist would you love to jam with?
Probably John Prine or Paul McCartney (who wouldn’t want to play with a Beatle?).
What is your dream travel destination?
For some reason, I’ve thought for a while it would be really cool to see walruses in the wild because that’s just not something I figured I’d ever see in my lifetime so I guess it would have to be somewhere close to the arctic circle. However it kind of makes me nervous because I read an article once about how in the Eskimo culture they used to put grandpa out on an ice flow when he got too old and let him be eaten by a polar bear. After that, they would kill the polar bear and eat it so grandpa could live on through them. I thought this would be a great manly way to go and have told a few people that when it’s my time I want to be eaten by a polar bear so I figure it would be just my luck it would happen when I was taking a picture of a walrus.
What is your favorite piece of gear?