Dan Bern

Live in New York

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Live in New York is the follow-up to Dan Bern's 2010 live record, Live in Los Angeles. It's on his own DBHQ label and gives you 18 songs that span his entire career along with eight new tunes, including a few that will probably make it onto the two studio albums he's been working on since 2008. The older tunes include fan favorites like "Jerusalem," "Black Tornado," and "Oh Sister," simply sung by Bern accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. On the rest of the album, folk-rock trio Common Rotation, also contributors to Bern's upcoming studio projects, add sympathetic backing. "Economy" is a topical song that addresses the Great Recession and reminds us that in times of tribulation a good friend can make all the difference. The title of "Talkin' Tea Party Blues" tells you all you need to know. It's Bern at his wickedly funny best, full of hilarious cheap shots that skewer the movement's irrational views. A clattering banjo adds a country/old-time music feel to "Grandpa," a tale of a couple that's "living in sin" in a small town. Bern pulls out all the lyrical stops on "Juarez," a bluesy, psychedelic excursion into a town slowly sinking into decadent oblivion. Jordan Katz on mariachi trumpet adds a perfect touch of cheesy emotion to the arrangement. Bern's one of the few songwriters to take on the subject of sports and he has two sports-themed tunes here. "Joyce & Galarraga" uses a Latin-meets-klezmer arrangement to commemorate the almost perfect game pitched by the Detroit Tigers' Armando Galarraga in June of 2010. Umpire Jim Joyce cost him the game with a call he later realized was a mistake. "Isner & Mahut" is a witty take on the longest tennis match in history, the 11-hour-and-five-minute contest between John Isner and Nicholas Mahut. But the most surprising track here is a cover of the Merle Haggard hit "Lonesome Fugitive," delivered by Bern without irony and with plenty of country soul.