Jason Berk is an American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, known for his song "Real Love" as well as for his frequent live and recorded covers of Elvis Costello songs.
Jason Berk was born September 4th, 1992, in Livingston, New Jersey, and raised in the nearby suburb of South Orange. Berk relocated to Oakland, California in 1997 with his family and spend the next several years moving around the San Francisco Bay Area, eventually settling in Alameda. Berk's father, a professional musician, introduced him to the guitar, and Berk began playing seriously in 2000. Berk initially learned guitar chords from his father or at a local music day camp, but quickly advanced and became primarily self-taught, listening to music and figuring out how to play what he was hearing. In 2001, Berk also began teaching himself piano, which he ended up becoming equally advanced in. Berk spent two years in the choir and two years in the jazz band at Alameda High School, where he graduated from in 2010, and where he was classmates and close friends with the members of Finish Ticket. Since 2011 he has been working toward a Bachelor's Degree in Media Composition at California State University Northridge.
Berk received a MacBook Pro as a high school graduation gift, and immediately started teaching himself how to produce using the GarageBand program by creating note-for-note recreations of classic songs by The Beatles, Squeeze, Cream, and others, before using those skills to record his own songs, including one of the earliest recordings of one of his trademark songs, "Real Love." He put out a CD of mostly covers, The Next Meal, in 2010, followed by Afternoon Snacks in 2011. Both releases featured original works by Berk mixed in with the covers of songs by The Beatles, The Band, Coldplay, Aerosmith, and others.
Berk relocated to Los Angeles in 2011 to study media composition at California State University Northridge (CSUN). It was here that he began associating with well-known LA musicians including Probyn Gregory, Darian Sahanaja, Nelson Bragg (all of Brian Wilson's touring group, as well as The Beach Boys' 50th Anniversary Tour), Adam Marsland (Cockeyed Ghost), and noted singer-songwriter Evie Sands. Berk also began taking guitar lessons from John Pisano, a legendary guitarist known for his work with Frank Sinatra, Joe Pass, Herb Alpert, Diana Krall, and countless others. In early 2012 Berk launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising a meager $600 to purchase recording equipment for what would be his full-length debut album of all-original material, Real Love, which was released in July 2012. The title track, as well as several other tracks, was picked up for airplay by Bay Area radio stations KFOG and KSAN ("The Bone") as well as Michael McCartney's "Time Machine" radio program, which is based in Maui but is syndicated nationwide. Berk promoted the album with performances at House of Blues in Hollywood, Melrose-based club AMPLYFi (both with backing band The 102), and a series of acoustic shows throughout Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. Berk is currently finishing recording for his sophomore effort, Coming Home, due in Spring 2014.
Aside from his solo work Berk is one-half of The Goners, an acoustic duo formed in 2008 that exclusively does acoustic covers of a wide range of popular songs. In January 2013 they released The Studio Sessions, Volume One, their first collection of covers recorded in the studio, which included Elvis Costello's "There's A Story In Your Voice", No Doubt's Costello-penned "I Throw My Toys Around" and Jenny Lewis's "Carpetbaggers" (the original recording of which featured Costello on a shared lead vocal). These songs are frequent staples of The Goners' live shows, along with songs by The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, The Everly Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, Bright Eyes, and others. The Goners have developed a cult following in their hometown and have performed throughout the Bay Area, as headliners and as opening acts.
Berk is a well-documented fan of The Beatles, crediting them as the first music he's ever heard, as well as the music that "taught me to sing, taught me to play, and taught me how to write songs. Not that you can't write songs other ways, but their 200+ songs are a good way of demonstrating multiple effective song forms." Berk is also a huge supporter of Elvis Costello, performing his music at nearly one of his shows, and has seen Costello eight times since 2007. Other influences include Sondre Lerche (with whom he had a humorous public correspondence on Twitter regarding a slideshow Berk made as an unsuccessful campaign to open for Lerche's show at the Troubadour in September 2012), Ben Folds, and John Mayer, whom Berk lists as his "all-time idol".
- Real Love (2012)
- Coming Home (2014)
- Live At High St. Station (2011) (includes covers of "Beyond Belief," "Accidents Will Happen," "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes," and "Radio Sweetheart")
- Electric - Live 2013 (2013) (includes cover of "Leave My Kitten Alone")
- Acoustic - Live 2013 (2013) (includes cover of "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes")
- The Next Meal (2010) (Covers album with 2 original songs)
- Afternoon Snacks (2011) (Covers album with 3 original songs, includes cover of "A Slow Drag With Josephine")
- Second Helpings (2011) (EP of original songs, including previously released material)
- Buffalo (2012) (3-song Buffalo Springfield tribute EP)
With The Goners
- The High St. Station Performance (2011) (live, features covers of "There's A Story In Your Voice," "Carpetbaggers," "I'll Never Fall In Love Again," and "Everyday I Write The Book")
- Let It Be: Live (2011) (full live performance of The Beatles' Let It Be album)
- The Lost Songs (2011) (live, features covers of "There's A Story In Your Voice," "Carpetbaggers" and "A Slow Drag With Josephine")
- The High St. Station Performance II: High St. Harder (2012) (live, features covers of "I Throw My Toys Around," "There's A Story In Your Voice," "I Hope You're Happy Now" and "Carpetbaggers")
- The Studio Sessions, Volume One (2013) (studio album, features covers of "Carpetbaggers," "There's A Story In Your Voice," and "I Throw My Toys Around")