The Peoples Church keeps East Lansing’s folk traditions alive this Sunday by opening its doors to the legendarily hilarious accordion/12-string acoustic guitar duo, Lou and Peter Berryman.
Hailing from Wisconsin and currently based in Madison, they began their musical journey together in 1965, playing several gigs in the summer after graduating high school. Over the years their styles have shifted from jug band music, to blues, and even renaissance music.
When the Berrymans moved to London, Ontario after marrying in 1967, Lou joined a renaissance band there playing the viola de gamba, a popular instrument during the Renaissance period. It resembles a fretted cello, and is played with a bow. Their marriage did not last through the 70s, but this did not hinder their musical companionship, and throughout their music career both Lou and Peter consistently stay true to their roots in folk music.
Both members of the band play an array of different instruments, but they don’t need much to put on a great show. Lou plays the accordion and writes the music. Peter plays the 12-string acoustic guitar and writes the words. They both sing, and their witty lyrics accompanied by tuneful composition have won them laughs and fans across America. In 1977 they were able to quit their part-time jobs and dedicate themselves to full-time songwriting, recording, and touring.
As a testament to the duo’s expansive career, the third and latest edition of Lou and Peter’s Big Songbook was published just this year. The songbook includes every original composition recorded from 1980 to 2014, which comes to a total of 222 songs. The size of their discography is a close match to the Beatles’, who reportedly wrote 237 original compositions. The songbook itself is an impressive feat, as well as a true homage to the spirit of folk music, as traditional folk songs are intended to be passed on from musician to musician.
The Peoples Church is proud to host regular musical performances, and “welcoming musicians like Lou & Peter Berryman to perform at The Peoples Church is a wonderful way for the church to showcase its support of the arts and be a center for community events,” according to Andy Mayville, facility director at The Peoples Church. “We have made a conscious effort over the past few years to offer our unique space as a venue for family-friendly concerts. Any revenue the church collects from this performance will be used to support other concerts and music events.”
Lou and Peter will make their Peoples Church debut this Sunday, however, it isn’t their first time playing in East Lansing. Their last performance in town was put on by the Ten Pound Fiddle, an organized group of volunteers who have put on many folk concerts and square dances around the greater Lansing area since 1975.
The Ten Pound Fiddle originally began as a weekly coffeehouse hosted by the MSU Folksong Society in Old College Hall, a small, private room in the MSU Union Grill. Still going strong today, the Fiddle puts on most of its shows at MSU’s Community Music School, while larger shows take place at the Hannah Community Center or LCC’s Dart Auditorium.
Former host of WKAR Radio’s “The Folk Tradition”, Bob Blackman, is one of the founding members of The Ten Pound Fiddle. During his time as host of “The Folk Tradition”, he frequently played songs from Lou and Peter’s vast collection, and still refers to the two as his favorite songwriters. Blackman will emcee the concert at the Peoples Church.
The concert begins at 7:00PM at The Peoples Church on 200 W. Grand River Ave. Tickets are currently on sale for $15 online, and will also be available at the door for $18 the night of the concert.