The music world has had many romantic couples; the most famous include Sonny & Cher and Ike & Tina Turner. It’s probably not the best comparison to San Francisco based blues artists Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz. Not that they’re not making great music, but the chemistry isn’t, well, tempestuous.
A better comparison might be the smoldering passion June Carter and Johnny Cash displayed both on and off stage. Perhaps the country legends were whispering to them from the great beyond to record one of their staples on their new album “In Any Town.”
“To be honest, I had never heard ‘Jackson’ before,” confessed Berkowitz. “Cathy threw me on to it and said, 'Do you want to do a classic duet cover? We could fashion it to our strengths.' We gave it more of a boogaloo New Orleans groove.”
Berkowitz said “Jackson” was the impetus for the duo to develop their on-stage banter that now includes a similarity to how Cash and Carter tweaked each other during live performances.
“They were great, I loved Johnny Cash,” exclaimed Lemons. “And ‘Jackson’ is such a funny song and they had so much fun with it.”
Lemons and Berkowitz call themselves “The Lucky Losers.” They say it is a self-deprecating if accurate name.
“In a nutshell, we were both losers until we met each other,” laughed Lemons.
“Oh we’re a great team, make no mistake about it,” Lemons responded. “Where we were once disorganized and confused about what we were doing, when we joined forces, we became a cohesive, working, promotional machine.”
“And with each failure,” Berkowitz quickly jumped in. “We may not win the battle or the whole war, but we may win some skirmishes along the way.”
“And we’re having fun!” Lemons added.
You can hear the sizzle between the two on the opening track on “In Any Town.”
Me and my sweet baby have a sweet thing going on/Got a love so strong that will never grow old/Every time we kiss, we’re like two little kids
“I wanted to write a simply-put song that grooved but also had the loving sentiment I was feeling for Cathy when we were first dating,” said Berkowitz.
Though relatively new as a duo, Berkowitz and Lemons are blues veterans that have bumped into or played with a few legends along the way. One of their favorites was John Lee Hooker. Matter of fact, Lemons said the greatest compliment she has received was from Hooker. It was when she acted as an on-stage “send-off” introduction.
“I would get up and sing a couple songs and then he would come on and do the show,” said Lemons. “So I only had a few short moments up there. Once time in Canada I did real good job and was real proud of myself. Later we both heard it on tape, and then John Lee Hooker said ‘That’s Big Mama’ in reference to the legendary Big Mama Thornton.
High praise indeed.
The Lucky Losers play Pop's Place in Decatur on Saturday, Aug. 12.
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