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‘Purpose and focus’: Songwriter finds solace in his craft amid pandemic’s disruptions

Santa Fe-based musician David Berkeley has released his album “Oh Quiet World.” (Courtesy of Kerry Sherck)

David Berkeley’s latest chapter in life is a page turner.

Before the pandemic hit, the Santa Fe-based musician was living in Madrid, Spain, where he had been living for nearly a year with his wife and children.

Within 48 hours of deciding to leave Spain, Berkeley was back in the United States with his family in Rhode Island. He had enough time to bring along the 50-year-old Spanish guitar he had purchased.

The family couldn’t move back to Santa Fe, because their home was rented for the year they were to be away in Spain.

“We were quarantining at a friend’s house in Rhode Island, and I began to write songs in the attic where I set up a recording studio,” he says. “I wasn’t intending on writing a record.”

The result is “Oh Quiet World,” which was released on July 27. Berkeley will also perform a live concert that will be streamed by AMP Concerts at 7 p.m. Friday, July 31, on its Facebook page.

Berkeley says the songs are influenced by the time that we’re all going through.

“I had a begun a few melodies on that old guitar while we lived in Spain,” he says. “But it wasn’t until after we left that I could make any sense of them. I wrote a song a day that first week back. That’s not normal for me. I guess nothing in this time is normal. Songwriting gave me a way to process some of my fears and frustrations. It gave me a purpose, something small I could contribute.”

Santa Fe-based musician David Berkeley will perform his album, “Oh Quiet World,” on Friday, July 31, in a live performance online. (Courtesy of Hannah McCaughey)

Berkeley says the writing process helped him during this time.

“It gave me purpose and a focus,” he says.

Since touring has stopped, Berkeley has adjusted to taking performances online.

For his show with AMP Concerts, Berkeley will be joined by Ben Wright and Karina Wilson.

“This will be the first time in months that I’ve performed with someone else,” he says. “We’ll play at the end of my driveway in Santa Fe.”

Although the online shows are good, Berkeley misses the interaction with a live audience.

“Performance is such an important part of my life,” he says. “It’s a vehicle to communicate these songs. Without that piece, it’s much more difficult. The online shows are something, but they are not the same. It’s a step closer, though I have to say there is something more intimate about the online performances. I get to take my time and directly comment, though it feels one-sided, because the viewer is watching me. It’s a little bit like being in a vacuum. I just don’t want to be watched. I want to have that give-and-take.”

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