Indie-rock singer-songwriter David Berman passed away in August 2019, and over the weekend, numerous fans, friends and former bandmates gathered to celebrate what would have been the musician’s 53rd birthday with tribute shows in New York, Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon.
At the Portland show — hosted by local zine chickfactor at Bunk Bar — Pavement members Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich covered songs from Berman’s band Silver Jews, including American Water‘s “Random Rules” and Starlite Walker‘s “Trains Across the Sea.” (Both Malkmus and Nastanovich had occasionally performed with Silver Jews.)
Music video director and filmmaker Lance Bangs captured part of their “Trains Across the Sea” performance and posted it to Twitter.
— Lance Bangs (@lancebangs) January 5, 2020
Other musicians who played tribute sets included Clay Cole, Frank Bruno, Red Ronne, A Certain Smile and more. Nashville-based musician William Tyler teamed up with The Spinanes’ Rebecca Gates for a cover of “Snow Falling in Manhattan” from Berman’s Purple Mountains project, released in 2019 shortly before his death.
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I want Rebecca Gates and William Tyler to record this cover of “Snow Falling in Manhattan” like, tomorrow. These uncannily apt lyrics come right after I stopped recording: Songs build little rooms in time And housed within the song's design Is the ghost the host has left behind . #davidberman #purplemountains #rebeccagates #williamtyler
The New York tribute show, hosted at Brooklyn bar Union Pool, featured sets from former Silver Jews members Matt Hunter and Steve West; Purple Mountains collaborators Cassandra Jenkins and Kyle Forrester; and members of Berman’s former band at UVA, Ectoslavia. Steve Keene — the artist behind numerous album covers for artists like Pavement and Apples in Stereo — created hundreds of paintings for the occasion that were displayed around the Union Pool patio for sale.
In Philadelphia, Speedy Ortiz hosted a show at World Cafe Live that featured sets from Dominic Angelella, Hop Along’s Frances Quinlan, Radiator Hospital’s Cynthia Schemmer and more. Below, Angellela and Speedy Ortiz cover Silver Jews’ “Smith & Jones Forever,” via Stereogum: