David Berchtold has been playing the guitar for more than 40 years. He plays a wide range of folk, rock and blues, but Piedmont style fingerpicking is his specialty. Though he makes it look as smooth as spreading warm butter on cinnamon toast, his ten fingers are flying in several directions simultaneously, picking out the rhythm, bass lines, and melody all at the same time. It is magic to behold.
A native of Illinois, Berchtold has studied with Jorma Kaukonen at the infamous Fur Peace Ranch and he teaches Piedmont Fingerpicking at festivals and colleges. With a rich repertoire from the greatest fingerpickers, including Rev. Gary Davis, Doc Watson, Leo Kottke, and Chet Atkins, David also has a solid hour of innovative original tunes, rooted in tradition but proving that this style of playing is very much alive in his hands.
The son of a very musical family, multi-instrumentalist Brian Stear grew up in the melting pot of music in the 1960s known as Los Angeles. While soaking up influences from Motown, musical theater, jazz, rock, and everything in between, he would sneak his AM radio under his pillow at night and fall asleep to the greats he would later pay tribute to. Above all, it was his Grandma, the one person in the family with no musical talent at all, who inspired him to follow a career in music by making him feel that he could do anything.
Proud of his reputation as a consummate sideman of over 30 years, Stear has developed a unique style and approach to each instrument in his arsenal. Though he started out on drums, his harmonica playing is melodic, joyful, soulful and searing. For Stear no melody is sacred, as he captivates the audience like the Pied Piper himself. For blues, rock and country guitar, it’s all about “The Three T’s”: taste, technique, and tone, as he uses the guitar to add the icing on the cake. For bluegrass, folk, and blues standards, Stear uses his mandolin as more of a support instrument to accompany the artist as opposed to pulling the spotlight. He’s even got his Grandma’s washboard for rhythm accompaniment, which he plays with bare fingers to really feel what he’s doing.
A guy you’d trust to get the job done (or be honest enough to say he can’t), Stear has played with hundreds of great musicians, from local coffeehouse regulars to Grammy award winners like Koko Taylor. A self-described musical chameleon, Stear has the unique ability to bring exactly what’s needed to the table and blend into the song, creating a canvas of sound translated from the natural (and unnatural!) sounds of daily life all around us.