For the last two decades Jeff Berkley and Calman Hart have been entertaining audiences with their natural down-home humor and masterfully-crafted songs . In 2018, they celebrated their 20th anniversary with a live performance of their debut album, “Wreck ‘N Sow”. Released in 2000, “Wreck ‘N Sow” was a critical success out of the box, winning the San Diego Music Award for Best Local Recording and helping Berkley Hart take home the coveted Best New Artist trophy as well. SLAMM magazine said of it, “Sometimes an album surfaces that is so emotionally and musically authentic that it crumbles resistance to its genre.” In the years since, they’ve played festivals, performing arts centers, and house concerts all over the country, recording another 10 albums and winning several more awards along the way. In 2016 alone, they put out three albums: “BHST” (with Eve Selis and Marc Intravaia), “A Berkley Hart Christmas”, and “Fleur De Lis”, a powerful collection of 20 songs combining their trademark vocal harmony and unique acoustic style to create a listening experience that is, as one critic put it, “warm and peaceful as a summer evening on the bayou”. They have also become well-known for their theme-shows, most notably their productions of “O Berkley Where Hart Thou”, an old-timey tribute to classic Americana, and their recreation of “The Last Waltz”, a passionate homage to The Band’s 1976 farewell concert. In 2019 Berkley Hart are still doing their best to live up to that SLAMM review of 20 years ago. Their latest release “While The Night Is Still Young” recently won the SDMA for Best Americana Album. If early reviews of it are any indication, their reputation for performances that are “emotionally and musically authentic” is alive and well.
The son of a traveling evangelist, Jeff Berkley grew up in Southern California, playing drums in alternative rock bands. After high school, he discovered the African djembe, which he combined with cymbals to create a bare-handed style of percussion that is uniquely his own. Before long, he was playing regularly in San Diego coffee houses and clubs with the likes of Jewel, Steve Poltz and The Rugburns, and Gregory Page; as well as entertaining thousands alongside folk circuit fixtures like Joel Rafael, Tom Prasada-Rao, Johnsmith and Don Conoscenti. All the while, however, he was playing guitar and writing his own music; and in 1998 he came out from behind his drum to perform his songs in a band which included fellow singer/songwriters Dani Carroll, John Katchur, and future partner Calman Hart. In the spring of 1999, Berkley won the prestigious New Folk Songwriter Competition in Kerrville Texas, past winners of which include Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin, Jerry Jeff Walker, Hal Ketchum and Nancy Griffith. Not long after, Berkley officially teamed up with Hart, and the duo Berkley Hart was born.
Calman Hart was born at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Woods Cross City Utah on Christmas Eve. He began playing guitar and writing songs while still in high school, and worked through college playing in clubs across Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho, before finally putting down roots in San Diego. There, in 1992, his first album “Red-Eyed & Blue” won him the Best New Artist honors at the San Diego Music Awards. His second album “Train in the Distance”, recorded with Bil Vorndick (producer of Alison Krauss’ grammy-winning “I’ve Got that Old Feeling”) and Nashville greats Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, David Grier and Roy Husky Jr., also met with critical success. In the mid-nineties, he fell in with the emerging San Diego coffee house scene, making the rounds with artists such as Jewel, Steve Poltz, Gregory Page, Dave Howard and John Katchur. It was during this time that he met percussionist Jeff Berkley, whose djembe made a prominent appearance on Hart’s third album “The John Boy Drum” in 1998. One of the first to coax Berkley into the spotlight as a singer/songwriter, Hart soon began gigging regularly with him. While writing together in the summer of 1999, the seeds for “Wreck N’ Sow” were planted, and the two officially joined forces as Berkley Hart.