“It’s euphoric to sing in a four-part harmony band,” says Jeff Berkley, one-fourth of Berkley Hart Selis Twang. “It’s joyful and feels like you’re gonna lift off the ground. I think the audiences feel that, too. That’s the way they talk when we hang out after shows, anyways.” The quartet features Berkley with frequent collaborator Calman Hart, along with acoustic songstress Eve Selis and her longtime guitarist Marc “Twang” Intravaia.
With original songs cowritten by the four members, their debut album is an evocative throwback to the late-’60s Laurel Canyon sound of Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, and — as I can’t help mentioning to Berkley — Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. “We’ve been getting that a lot,” he says, “and it’s amazing to be mentioned in the same sentence as them.”
The writing/recording process was unlike typical Berkley Hart or Selis Band projects. “Everything is a little different. The main thing is the writing. Truly writing with four people, where everyone is involved in the process from beginning to end, isn’t usually easy, much less even really possible. Artists don’t often play well together. This wasn’t like that at all.”
He says the collaboration evolved casually. “We would show up at each others’ shows and say, ‘What do you know? Okay, let’s sing that!’ Then we started learning each others’ songs. The writing, recording, and touring took so long simply because both bands are busy all the time, and the timing had to be right.”
Berkley and Hart recently returned from a European tour, while Selis has been recording and touring with Intravaia, who, with his wife Paula, has been busy with their Sorrento Valley venture, the Sanctuary Art and Music Studio.
The release party for the debut Berkley Hart Selis Twang self-titled record happens Saturday, October 11, at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts.
“We’re definitely having special guests. Some are surprises, but we’ll have a smokin’ band that night,” he says of the backing group, which will include drummer Larry Grano, bassist Rick Nash, and Doug Pettibone on pedal and lap steel guitars.
“The Poway Center are sticking their necks on the line and booking a San Diego original music group to headline their 800-seat venue. This is nearly unprecedented.” So, why should locals make the show their Saturday night choice?
“Because this music was born and raised in San Diego.”