The Feb. 8 edition of Greasy Tracks featured about as diverse a mix of music that can be packed into a two-hour time frame as blues, soul, country, zydeco and rock were included along with interviews with Steve Berlin from Los Lobos and Memphis-based bandleader John Németh.
Németh, who grew up in Boise, Idaho, was singing in a church choir before he got into rock music. Then a literal life-changing event happened when a friend played him Hoodoo Man Blues, the debut album by harp master Junior Wells that was recorded in 1965 and featured guitarist Buddy Guy.
From there, there was no looking back as Németh forged a path as a working musician, heading west where he immersed himself in what he calls “the early East Bay Grease sound” of San Francisco and Oakland before moving, in 2013, to one of the historic soul music capitals, Memphis.
Nine albums later and with two projects pending release, Németh is out on a winter tour with The Blue Dreamers. He plays Black Eyed Sally’s in Hartford on Feb. 15 and Darryl’s House in Pawling, N.Y., on Feb. 19.
Berlin is a Grammy-winning producer who plays saxophone and keyboards with Los Lobos who play Infinity Hall in Hartford on Feb. 21.
Berlin joined “The Wolves” in 1984 after leaving The Blasters. Los Lobos had opened for The Blasters — led by the often-at-odds brothers Dave and Phil Alvin — in the past which helped expose them to a wider audience. The stylistic change of direction The Blasters were headed in, especially the reduced emphasis on horns, sealed the deal for Berlin who got the blessing from the group to make the move.
Berlin and Los Lobos were no strangers. Working with the legendary T-Bone Burnett, he co-produced their 1983 EP …And a Time to Dance and then teamed up with Burnett to co-produce their debut release How Will The Wolf Survive in 1984 which was met with critical acclaim and help elevate the group to national and soon, international stardom.
When not on the road or in the studio with Los Lobos, Berlin immerses himself with session or production work. He’s won seven Grammy’s and worked with a veritable who’s who of the industry including: R.E.M. Sheryl Crow, String Cheese Incident, The Tragically Hip, The Dandy Warhols, John Lee Hooker, Deer Tick, The Smithereens, The Replacements, Tish Hinojosa, The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Gomez.