Cindy Lee Berryhill
Country of origin:
Type of music generally:
Quirky folk-tinged alternative pop. (Neile)
Most recent release, Beloved Stranger (2007)
Cindy Lee Berryhill's site
Cindy Lee Berryhill's Tearaway Page
A cross between Victoria Williams and Cyndi Lauper. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A sarcastic Victoria Williams (kinda). (Neile)
Sarcastic, funny, serious and one of the strangest voices you'll ever hear. (Neile)
I think Who's Gonna Save the World is better than Naked Movie Star, but I think any of the two more recent discs (Garage Orchestra and straight outta marysville) are both better than Who's Gonna Save the World. Those who like things a bit more twisted and like imaginative arrangements will especially like these. Naked Movie Star and straight outta marysville (the latter being a real surprise for me, as it nailed down songs, with arrangements, that I'd seen performed differently week after week) lived in my listening world more than anything else in 1997. (neal)
Comments about live performance:
She is a lot of fun live. (email@example.com)
Cindy Lee is incredible live, a clever and inventive performer who takes a lot of interesting twists by using a toy piano, casio keyboard, and the world's cheapest sampling setup. While I'm not sure that Cindy's skewed perspective, reedy thinnish vocals, and odd song structure would endear her to everyone, if you like it, you'll definitely like it live! I saw some of the early Garage Orchestra shows in San Diego, as she was piecing together the band, and they were a blast. I think the show I saw consisted of Cindy on guitar, someone else on cello, and a third person on timpani. And it worked! She was definitely my favorite live performer this year (1997). It's not like I was new to Cindy Lee's music or seeing her live, but this year we just crossed paths so many times and the music was always stunning. A Cindy Lee show is guaranteed unpredictability. Highlights include mixing "Wild Thing" into "Jane & John"—with go-go dancers, bringing up a table full of birthday revelers to bang on spoons while she sang her childhood ode to Pompeii, the impromptu "Safety Rose", composed on the spot when she received a plastic-wrapped rose, the frighteningly silly "I Like To Eat" song that she composed in her sleep (and won a grammy for there too), and the truly unsettling opening set of her Bel Air Living Room show, where she played wildly intense over-10-minute versions of "Jane & John" and "Heat" (a very strange way to open a show). (1997)
Cindy Lee opened the house concert with a bunch of new songs, all with guitar accompaniment. "Losing my IQ"—a song about the deleterious affects of love, "Half a Loaf"—which was real sing-songy, with an almost rap-like feel, "Hopeful Girl"—a more traditional sounding folk-pop song, "She Won't Even Try"—the ever popular "skip" song, probably explained everywhere enough to not need it again, accompanied by cassette player calisthenics.
Then Cindy Lee moved to keyboards for "Look at that Grin" and back to guitar and harmonica ("even if you don't know how to play, you can still sound like Dylan") for "This Way Up" and another off-kilter version of "Damn I Wish I Was A Man."
Cindy Lee talked about her recent forays into dating, and how the first person she went out with had a wall of dead mobster photos in his apartment. When she expressed distaste over that, he said If that's bothering you, then you are NOT going to like this idea for a date, which was to go have a picnic in a cave that the Manson family used to hang out in. And thus, the brand new song "Living Legend".
Then she read another section from her book Memoirs of a Female Messiah, which I'd actually heard her read several years ago.
Next up was another new song, "Victorville Beach", about the beach that will be there once California falls into the ocean. Then came a fantastic version of "Radio Astronomy," where Cindy Lee used a metronome I had laying around for rhythm, and recruited me to play the radio for the "UFO Suite" kind of effect (once I caught on to what she wanted.... I was kicking myself for not realizing the point faster.)
She ended the set with a hilarious, acoustic singalong of the Ramones' "I wanna be sedated", which must have sounded great from the sidewalk.
The show ends and Cindy Lee disappears into the kitchen to start eating brownies, but we make her come back, and brownie in hand, she starts in on the pretty new song from the afternoon ("Amitriptolene", she jokingly called it) and concluded with a freewheeling improvisational version of "steve on h" that was a great finale. It's one of those songs where she just goes nuts, and there's no telling where you'll end up. This time it meant a partial version of the "Spiderman" theme song and a wild spin on '70s radio. (10/00, neal)
The best part about Cindy's show is the 'instruments' she uses...they really add a delectable cheeze factor! First she has a mono, $5 ghetto-blaster she uses to play samples of things like records skipping on some songs. There is also a toy piano, and a Casio keyboard that a friend gave her for the tour. The Casio also has a bonus bad drum machine effect built-in, which Cindy used on one song. And she also played both acoustic and electric guitar. It was all very entertaining and often extremely funny, and more than the usual singer-songwriter show. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cindy Lee Berryhill was great in a living room show I saw, and her music has an energy that really was conducive to the intimate space. (email@example.com)
Recommended first album:
Garage Orchestra. (Neile, firstname.lastname@example.org)
I'd like to join the chorus in praise of Garage Orchestra. However, I think straight outta marysville is nearly as strong an album. Both of these later albums have more exotic arrangements then the early albums. Cindy Lee is a real treat live though, and Living Room 16 (if it's available) might be the best intro of all. (neal)
Out of print and hard to find
Highly recommended if you like Garage Orchestra. (Neile)
Cindy Lee Berryhill—guitar, vocals, harmonic
Waygone Rex Wilson—upright bass, vocals
Irene Liberatore—drums, vocals
Rick Saxton, Tracy Robar, Kevin Clarke, Ramsey Embick, Steve Kujala
Lively, funny (I adore "Damn, Wish I Was a Man") highly individual. A winner. (Neile)
I think Who's Gonna Save the Worldis pretty good, but nowhere near as strong as Garage Orchestra. (neal)
This too is good. Typical Cindy. I also have Naked Movie Star, but I like this new one better. I'm not sure if it's because it *is* better, or because I've played Naked Movie Star to death. (Matt.Bittner)
Out of print, but can be found used if you look around a while.
Only for completists—has some good moments but her other discs are much stronger. (Neile)
Cindy Lee Berryhill—guitar, voice, harmonica
Debbie "Fluffy" Spinelli—drums
Bob Lenox—organ, piano
Paul Dugan—upright and horizontal bass
Jones Beach—2nd guitar
This one doesn't have the life or energy of the others. Even the sarcastic songs come off a little flat. (Neile)
Sadly, this is only album I've been able to find by her, which is okay, but it sounds like producer Lenny Kaye wants to make her into a more accessible Patti Smith. Not that there's anything wrong with Patti, but it just seems like a dress that don't fit. (email@example.com)
I recently picked up a copy of Naked Movie Star. It's her second disc, and my least favorite of her four, but still loads of fun to listen to. (neal)
Wide in U.S.
High for anyone who likes individuality, interesting lyrics, and lively music, that while it doesn't follow the regular patterns has a dynamic flow. (Neile)
Cindy Lee Berryhill—electric guitar, singing
Randy Hoffman—vibraphone, tympani, percussion
Renata Bratt—cello, toy piano, singing, palm frond
Giovanni Verdi-acoustic bass, singing
Chris Davies—electric bass, autoharp, mandolin
This album approaches brilliance. Great, great songs and such a weird voice and I love it. Lots of fun. (Neile)
1996—Cargo Records/Earth Music—723248-450320
Wide in U.S.
High for anyone who likes individuality and interesting lyrics. (Neile)
Cindy Lee Berryhill—acoustic and electric guitars, voice, harmonica
Chris Davies—bass, mandolin, some lead guitar
Randy Hoffman—drums, vibraphone, tympani, metallophone, pump organ, iris pods, voice...
Rick Saxton—harmonica on "Jane and John"
While not as incredible as Garage Orchestra, this is a strong follow-up—original, quirky. (Neile)
1998—Griffith Park Records—GPR001
Limited edition of 2000 copies. See Cindy Lee Berryhill's Tearaway Page for ordering information
Highly recommended for Cindy Lee Berryhill fans
Cindy Lee Berryhill—vocals, guitar, keyboard, harmonica, cicada
Renata Bratt—cello, vocals, whistling
Executive Producer, James K. Cribb for The Work of Many People [sic]
For those of you who have experienced the wonderful scene known as the Living Room Tour and/or enjoy Cindy Lee Berryhill, you'll be interested in this. Recorded on 1/17/98, this particular show was unique among all the Living Room Tour gigs that Cindy Lee has participated in. On this particular show, she was accompanied by the extraordinary ex-Garage Orchestra cellist Renata Bratt. It was a reunion of sorts because CLB & Renata hadn't performed together in almost two years.
I can testify there was a great spontaneous energy hapnin that night & these performances will definitely delight all Cindy Lee Berryhill fans. The CD includes several stripped down versions of Garage Orchestra favorites, vintage songs from her anti-folk days, as well as brand new material. And of course a healthy dose of Living Room Tour hilarity. All Cindy Lee Berryhill fans will love these performances & it'll provide many more people with a taste of the Living Room Tour. (ABershaw@aol.com)
Alan is right—this cd is a delight. It will be a great introduction to Cindy Lee for all those deprived folk who have never heard her live (though sadly they probably won't heard of this album) and a delightful reminder of concerts past for those who have heard her. Fun and great music for everyone! (Neile)
Her novel, Memoirs of a Female Messiah, is now available and can be ordered from any bookstore through Ingram Distributors, or from the publisher, Entwhistle Books, Box 232517, Encinitas CA. 92023 U.S.A.
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ABershaw @ aol.com