With an exquisite 6-piece band flavored with pedal steel guitars and haunting guy/girl harmonies, Van Ghost played it's debut show before a packed audience at Chicago's revered Metro in January 2008. Fronted by Michael Harrison Berg, Van Ghost has since shared the stage with notable acts such as The Derek Trucks Band, Drive By Truckers, Blind Melon, Tim Reynolds, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Bob Schneider, Cracker, and many more.
Tell me about how you originally got into your craft, Michael.
I used to be in a band in high school... took an 11 year hiatus and after promoting, booking for and managing bands for a decade, decided to make a comeback to songwriting, recording, and performing. Passion took over from there becoming the best decision I've ever made.
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Anything to do with music... then anything outdoors especially near water or on a mountain as a strong runner up. Most important is to be with my people (family and/or friends) no matter what I am doing.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
Trying to be a business and artistic mind simultaneously is a great challenge. Second, trying to stand out in an overly saturated market where people's attention spans are spotty at best (including my own). Third, to surrender to the flow of what is trying to come out musically (mostly in terms of melodies) and to not fight it in any way. Let it be exactly what it is, while not attempting to make it what it is not, regardless of what I think it should or could sound like. Last, to attempt to make a living and "get by" in a battered economy chin deep in an industry where only the 2-3 highest tiers make real money. They don't call it the labor of love for nothing.
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I knew I'd be part of the music business on some level or another. This has always been my passion.
In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
Well as a promoter in the music industry (Midwest based Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee) I have met and networked with some amazing artist representatives and an even greater talent pool. I get to be a person of the people as a promoter and member of the scenes and communities I surround myself with and in. This has led to amazing but intense relationships, nights on the town and experiences that have led to my content lyrically. Melodically, the music I love spans so many genres I try to sponge up the things I love from each style and add some of it each of my songs. Being around some world class talent has also led to setting standards above the norm as well, in terms of what I expect out of our live shows, recordings, and reputation to fans and active members of the industry.
What other artists out there do you love?
| Ryan Adams and the Cardinals | Wilco| Iron & Wine | The Format | Pink Floyd | Beatles | Super Furry Animals | Blitzen Trapper | Fleet Foxes | Led Zeppelin | Raconteurs | Andrew Bird | Bon Iver | MGMT | Tom Petty | Jeff Buckley | The Allman Brothers Band | Ween | Radiohead | The Rolling Stones | The Shins | Bob Dylan | Neil Young | CSNY | Calexico w/ Iron And Wine | Broken Social Scene | Oh My God | Billy O'Neill | Pino Farina | Dearborn | Punsapaya | Donavon Frankenreiter | Cat Stevens | My Morning Jacket | Widespread Panic | Phish| Grateful Dead | Pearl Jam | Alice In Chains | Regina Spektor | Elliott Smith | Band Of Horses | Rogue Wave | Glossary | Midlake |
What does your future hold?
I hope tons of hard work while surrounded with more great people (friends/family/fans) than any one person could ever handle. Then I'll do my best to handle it. Kind of how it already is now I guess, only more grand.
Check out Van Ghost on www.vanghost.com and Facebook or pick up their latest on Amazon!