Masters of the comedy folk song, Lou Berryman and her ex-husband Peter Berryman are public radio folk programmers' favorites when they want to liven up their playlists with lighter fare. Folk festival audiences across the country have been charmed by the Wisconsin duo's peculiar, offbeat songs.
Lou Berryman was born in Appleton, Wisconsin and has worked as a fabric and fiber artist when not on the road. She sings lead and plays accordion with Peter in concert, but also plays piano, harpsichord, banjo, viola de gamba, saxophone, lute, and guitar. Peter Berryman, born in Philadelphia, attended school in Appleton and worked as an illustrator. Peter plays 12-string guitar and also writes lyrics. The two met in high school and formed their first band in 1964; they formed a jug band in college together in 1966 and led two other bands in 1969 and 1971. Meanwhile, they married in 1967 and were divorced in 1974, but became a professional duo in 1975 and began playing a weekly show at the Club deWash in Madison, Wisconsin in 1977. During the decades to follow, the duo has entertained crowds at folk festivals and coffeehouses across the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
The prolific duo has issued several songbooks, including Frescoes and Bowling Balls and The New Berryman Berryman Songbook. Their albums include The Universe: 14 Examples (2007), Some Days (2005), Love Is the Weirdest of All (2004), The Pink One (2003), Yah Hey (2002), House Concert (2000), Some Kinda Funny (1998), Double Yodel (1995), What, Again!? (1993), We Don't Talk About That! (1992), Cow Imagination (1990), Forward Hey: Wisconsin Songs (1988), Your State's Name Here (1988) February March (1986) So Comfortable (1984), Cupid's Trash Truck (1981), and No Relation (1980), all on their own label. Their songs have been recorded by lots of fellow folkies: Claudia Schmidt, Sally Rogers, the Chenille Sisters, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, and others. Garrison Keillor, host of the National Public Radio program Prairie Home Companion, has been a big supporter of the duo's idiosyncratic, quirky, funny, and often profound songs.
Along with newer arrivals like Christine Lavin, Lou & Peter Berryman are masters of the comedic song, of the same ilk as Allen Sherman, Tom Lehrer, and Noel Coward. As much comedians as they are musicians, Lou and Peter understand that point of view is an essential component in writing good songs. Their songs have been inspired by recipes, ads for houses in real estate shoppers, and the seemingly endless winters of their native Wisconsin. The two continue to record and perform together, and when not on the road, they make Madison their hometown. ~ Richard Skelly