When Jeff Berkley was five years old, his dad set up some boxes for him to use as a drum kit. The boy was hooked. His teenage years in Vista, California saw him as a drummer and songwriter in various popular alternative bands as his musical tastes expanded. After high school, he continued drumming with such bands as The Cry, The Eclipse, and Rain Cathedral. But he soon met Dave Sharp of The Alarm, became his drummer, and recorded his demo with him. Jeff was on his way.
Enter the Djembe
It was the early 90s, and the coffeehouse scene was exploding. Jeff put away his kit and moved to the congas. He could also sing so the gigs came fast. After a short-lived run with The Cages (Capitol Records), Jeff discovered the West African djembe. He learned that by adding cymbals, he could mimic a full drum kit sound. Berkley created a bare-handed style of percussion that became uniquely his own and highly regarded. He helped define the sound of the Joel Rafael Band, of which he’s a founding member, and has played with Jackson Browne, Ben Harper, David Crosby, Arlo Guthrie, Venice, the Indigo Girls, Jewel, Steve Poltz, and Sean and Sarah Watkins, among others.
Enter the Guitar
Playing djembe behind so many amazing performers was never lost on Berkley. He was always watching and learning. Off-stage, he honed his guitar-playing skills as well as his songwriting. Today, his guitar playing may supersede his wondrous skills on the djembe; he is well-known for his stylish riffs and tasty solos whether it’s the electric or acoustic guitar. He is a master of tone and knowing exactly what is needed for every song. Some artists who Jeff has played with as part of their band or for special shows include Cindy Lee Berryhill, Lisa Sanders, Barbara Nesbitt, John Doe, and others.
He has been a member of Tim Flannery and the Lunatic Fringe going on twenty years as guitarist and percussionist and is currently the guitarist in Veronica May and the To-Do List & Lisa Sanders Band.
Add Some Magic
Jeff is available for hire for your project. Just hit Contact to get in touch!