'Turn-of-the-century' duo Son of Town Hall bring music, theater to Corrales - Albuquerque Journal

‘Turn-of-the-century’ duo Son of Town Hall bring music, theater to Corrales

Son of Town Hall will perform at the Old San Ysidro Church in Corrales on Saturday, Jan. 28. (Courtesy of David Berkeley)

David Berkeley and Ben Parker decided to look back in time for their project Son of Town Hall.

To be exact, the duo are taking it back to the early 1900s and taking on two personas – George Ulysses Brown and Josiah Chester Jones.

“We’ve been around for 80 years and travel around the world performing,” Berkeley says. “The two of us met in England around the turn of the century in a bar fight over a woman.”

Son of Town Hall will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Old San Ysidro Church in Corrales.

The show is an immersive experience with music and theater.

“We tell our story and we’re dressed in old time clothes,” Berkeley says. “The music is mostly like Simon & Garfunkel.”

Berkeley describes his on-stage character, Josiah, as the son of a former Confederate general and born outside of Lexington, Kentucky.

Josiah was disowned by his family after denouncing the Southern cause. He was a stowaway on a merchant vessel bound for England and found his voice singing himself to sleep to ward off seasickness and keep the rats away. The streets of London were not kind to Josiah, and it wasn’t until he met George that his fate changed forever, though not exclusively for the better.

Meanwhile the England-based Parker portrays George Ulysses Brown, who hails from the south of England.

At 16, he ran away from the family butcher business and his abusive father, and never looked back.

George spent the better part of the next decade in and out of prisons and public houses.

The only steady labor he managed to hold was as a singing waiter in the West End.

He eventually met Josiah at the Old Star and the two set out for the New Land, new livelihoods and new adventures.

“People have laughed at our story,” Berkeley says. “When you travel with someone and spend so much time on the open seas, you get to know someone. These are the stories that we’ve experiences. We’re busy saving each other through music and theater.”

Berkeley says the show is in two acts, which last about 35 minutes a piece.

“We seek out these spots to play that help add to what we’re doing,” he says. “These old desert places. The San Ysidro Church gives us a chance to time travel. Our joke is that no one will have us back because we’re often chased out of town after a show. We’re only doing one show in New Mexico before we head into the studio to record our second album.”

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