CD- Review "Hippy Dance" Pat Bergeson

“Hippy Dance” gives the listener a refreshing alternative to the “same old” instrumentation. The music stands confidently demanding serious consideration as a real labor of love w/Harmonica, Tuba, Drums foundation along with several great friends

Pat Bergeson is certainly a household name in his musical circles. In the world of harmonica and guitar, Mr. Bergeson is one of the staples. His skills are like the few spices in every good chef’s kitchen. The ones which make ordinary dishes great and take good sauces “over the top.” He adds taste, texture and flavor to every musical recipe he touches. For years, Pat has been one of the special ingredients in the music of artists such as, Lyle Lovett, Chet Atkins, Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton, Bill Frisell, Martin Taylor, Suzy Bogguss, Bill Evans, Peter Frampton, Michael McDonald, Shelby Lynne, Madeleine Peyroux, Wynonna Judd, and many others. Find out why at his website The story continues there.

So what about “Hippy Dance”?

Pat Bergeson and Tuba player Dan Anderson have been friends since third grade. If you are fortunate to have formed a permanent bond with someone at the age of nine or ten, you might understand where this project comes from. Pat and Dan first began making music in fourth grade. When it became time to pick instruments in elementary school, Pat picked drums and Dan grabbed the tuba. Okay, that had to be some kind of sign of things to come. Over the years, Pat migrated to guitar and harmonica. By high school, Dan left to study tuba at the Interlochen Arts Academy High School. Like all best friends, the time apart could not loosen the ties that bind. Summer and Holiday breaks brought the two together where they continued to make music and develop their artistic skills.

Fast forward and stop at the year, 1995. After so many years of making music together, they spent many years apart. Pat and Dan reconnected and decided to document their musical connection by going into studio with Nashville Percussionist Tom Roady and capture what they had developed over so many years of time together. Pat knew Tom from his Nashville session work and he is well known for his work with Vince Gill, Ricky Scaggs, James Taylor and many others. Of course there was an immediate comfortable feeling of these three together. The diligent reader will check out more about Tom’s amazing musical contributions of (who suddenly passed away in 2011) at

Well, after this recording session guess what? LIFE HAPPENED. The project took back burner to the demands and opportunities of working, recording, and touring which further developed individual careers. Something each knew was important. After all, where can it be documented that a Tuba, Harmonica/Guitar and Drum trio has made it big on American Bandstand, American Idol or America’s Got Talent? Case rested!

1995 to 2011? Nothing like a deadline!

While there was determination to complete the project, it wasn’t until Mr. Bergeson was invited to perform at the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of Harmonica (SPAH) that the compelling event emerged to get it done. He wanted to share the completed work at the conference. So with a big exhale blowing off the project dust, back in the studio they went to complete “Hippy Dance.” Pat and Dan incorporated more musical ingredients by taking the original six compositions and adding parts and selecting four additional compositions. The talents of many musical buddies were enlisted to keep the “friendship” aspect intact.

The Music

The title track ‘Hippy Dance” opens the recording with a “Sanford and Sons meets Bourbon Street” feel. Imagine Fred Sanford leading the street parade complete with umbrella waving and Lamont right behind driving the red pickup truck.

With “Down at the Plaza” the subtle undercurrent of Steve Shapiro’s rolling vibraphone is added to the driving, repeating tuba and drumming pulse. With the chord changes loosely following Billy Strayhorn’s “Take the ‘A’ Train”, the involuntary tap of the toe commences.

When music legend, Chet Atkins heard a Pat Bergeson demo tape many years ago, he immediately invited him to Nashville where the two collaborated for many years. Spend a little time with ears tuned to Pat’s guitar message on “The Chet Shuffle”. The tribute is heartfelt. Also, Rod McGaha’s plunger-assisted trumpet solo, provides the right amount of greasy soul.

The tuba line laid by Dan Anderson on “Slow and Sassy” is a clear differentiator from the traditional string bass. With all due respect to all the fine bass players, Mr. Anderson gets to the soul of this deep brass instrument in a way unattainable by the strings of a bass. When it comes time for the tuba to tell its solo story, Jimmy Wallace’s organ supplies the low side and opens a clear space for the Anderson to dance. For all former High School marching band tuba players out there, this one’s for you! Question for Mr. Bergeson, how can so much soul be produced from the Harmonica of a guy who didn’t group up on a bayou, on a slow boat, or under the railroad tracks. This blues and soulful playing is authentic and deep-rooted..

Bergeson is a stylistic chameleon both as a player and a writer. “Ghostly Apparatus” changes the game. The opening guitar voice is neatly woven with a pulsing triplet feel. Eerie flute and saxophone color is added by Jeff Coffin only to give way to the Bergeson Harmonica storytelling again. Supporting the effort are the flowing drums of Jim White and acoustic bass lines of Roger Spencer. Each instrument seems to splash in and out like a musical game of “Marco Polo”. Keep your eyes closed and no cheating.

At the risk of breaking a cardinal rule of the music review process, please allow a moment of personal appreciation. “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” has a special place in this writer’s heart due to the musical roots carefully planted by my father, Art Pulver who was a jazz musician and lover of traditional New Orleans Jazz. Of course, much of the early music in this style came from the gospel hymns of the church and played during the funeral processions which traveled from church to grave site. When my father died in 1996, his wish was a memorial with “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” performed. Only comment, Thank you Pat, Dan, Tom, Jeff and Jimmy!

When songs are written that soar in the wind, light as a feather and able to provide the illusion effortlessly flight, a sense of peace and clarity emerge. “The Tower and the Crane” is just that type of open and airy composition. Here Mr. Bergesion enlists the accordion of Will Barrow to the team of Jim White and Roger Spencer. Put this one in the category of “when a relaxing moment to escape, stretch to the sky” is needed. Don’t be surprised if your spirit soars, light as a feather with effortless flight.

Think one big bean jumping uncontrollably with “Mexican Medley”. Part La Cucaracha mixed with the Mexican Hat Dance. Just happy! Another Margarita please!

With Mr Anderson’s driving tuba lines and Tom Roady’s drums sounding like an entire drum section, the bottom is covered for Mr. Bergeson to explore with some of his favorite musical toys on “Sally’s Been Resurrected” Jews Harp, Harmonicas and Guitars provide the melody, cover and ornamentation. From what Sally has been resurrected is not entirely clear but from the musical picture she seems to be emerging from a quagmire of something swampy. No evidence of such, just a hunch.

Pat Bergeson has one of the most seductively alluring Harmonica sounds on the scene today. “I’m in the Mood for Love” is a beautiful example of his mastery and comfortable relationship with his instrument. His soulful, impeccably melodic/harmonic instincts, easily coax the musical message from an often hesitant and reluctant instrument. The music seems eager to please and show the world the sound it can produce when treated with the respect given by Mr. Bergeson. Michael Jefry Stevens’ piano adds just the right emotion and color that begs more duet work by these two musicians. Wonderfully complimentary to each other.

"Hippy Dance" is an example of two lifelong friends (Pat Bergeson and Dan Anderson) following a non-traditional passion of making music with the instruments they love. Unorthodox? Maybe, but both play artists play with “a who gives a damn” passion. These recordings are the musical nuggets which prove individual creativity is still being nurtured in the today’s music. Give this music a serious listen, and have fun with it. Pat, Dan, Tom and the crew certainly did!

Tracks: Hippy Dance, Down at the Plaza, The Chet Shuffle, Slow and Sassy, Ghostly Apparatus, A Closer Walk with Thee, The Tower and the Crane, Sally’s Been Resurrected, Mexican Medley, I’m in the Mood for Love.

Musicians: Pat Bergeson, Harmonica, Guitars, Ukelele, Bass Harmonica Jews Harp, Dan Anderson, Tuba, Tom Roady, Percussion, Jeff Coffin, Saxophones, Flute, Steve Shapiro, Vibraphone and Marimba, Jim White, Drums, Roger Spencer, Bass, Charlie Chadwick, Cello, Jimmy Wallace, Organ, Will Barrow, Accordion, Rod McGaha, Trumpet, Roy Agee, Trombone, Michael Jefry Stevens, Piano

Artist's Website:

These are my comments. I welcome yours.
Bruce Pulver
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Bruce Pulver