Silver Jews’ Berman disses C’ville

David Berman, lead singer for the band The Silver Jews (and former bandmate of some members of Pavement) disses his college town in an interview with a University of Georgia online student-run magazine. “Charlottesville sucks and Athens is cool,” declares Berman, who is playing the 40-Watt Club in Athens tonight. Unfortunately, Berman doesn't explain the reason for his comment. Hook music editor Vijith Assar interviewed the caustic and philosophical Berman as a warm up for The Silver Jews' March 16th gig at the Satellite Ballroom”Š at which point Berman might have some explaining to do!

Correction: The above entry had errors about Berman's townie/band affliations which have now been corrected.

2 comments

david berman was never a member of pavement. nor is charlottesville his hometown.

Newsday wrote up a story....

"Silver Jews play NYC"
By James Fanelli
AMNY STAFF WRITER

David Berman, the poet and songwriter behind the fabled band Silver Jews, follows a simple creed of creative giving these days, after a nearly fatal five-year drug habit that lasted until 2004. "I must do something restorative, helpful to the universe with the years that are likely ahead of me," Berman said. "I'm one of millions who have consciously tried to add on to the work of Creation. Getting up and rearranging the knick knacks on the mantle, or cleaning out a basement or finishing a song is the work of God happening through my hands. That's what I insist on believing now."

Perhaps Berman's most appreciated giveback to the cosmos -- at least as far as fans of the Silver Jews are concerned -- is playing a series of live shows for the first time in the band's nearly 17-year history.

Silver Jews, whose music mixes Nashville country with low-fi angular guitar work and is topped off by Berman's deadpan delivery of poetic lyrics, began a 19-date tour this month, including two New York City shows Friday and Saturday.

After six albums, Berman decided to hit the road in support of "Tanglewood Numbers," the band's first album in four years. Though Berman says the reason for the tour "is as simple as getting out of debt," the band's fiercely loyal fanbase have craved this moment.

Despite the lack of touring -- and the lack of airplay, for that matter -- the Silver Jews have managed to sell a large amount of albums. Their five previous full-lengths have each sold 60,000 copies and "Tanglewood Numbers," which came out in October, is on track to match those numbers, according to Drag City, the band's label.

Berman formed the band in 1989 with fellow University of Virginia alums Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich, who were also members of the legendary low-fi band Pavement. Though the cast of bandmates has rotated through the years, Berman's humorous metaphors and descriptive imagery thread through all the albums and remain the signature draw.

The albums' lyrics are sometimes mythical, sometimes honky tonk bathos -- "I wish they didn't set mirrors behind a bar because I can't stand to look at myself when I don't know where you are" -- and always innovative -- "I had a friend named Marc with a 'C', his sister was like the heat coming off the back of an old TV."

More than half of the songs Berman chose for the tour are from older albums, and his picks are based on lyrics that he still feels comfortable singing.

"I winnowed it down to 15 [songs] and five alternates for this first set of shows," he wrote. "I've never played them live and I have a poor memory, so it is like going through them for the first time, and then figuring out what you can still sing, finding the things you said when you were a different person that you can still stand behind."

Silver Jews. Play Webster Hall Friday and Saturday; 212-353-1600