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Turn-of-the-century duo Son of Town Hall bring music and theater to Corrales

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

David Berkeley and Ben Parker decided to look to the past for their Son of Town Hall project.

To be precise, the duo takes it back to the early 1900s and takes on two roles – George Ulysses Brown and Josiah Chester Jones.

“We’ve been around for 80 years and travel all over the world to perform,” says Berkeley. “We met in turn-of-the-century England during a bar fight over a woman.”

Son of Town Hall will perform at the Old San Ysidro Church in Corrales on Saturday 28th January at 7pm.

The show is an immersive experience with music and theatre.

“We tell our story and we wear old clothes,” says Berkeley. “The music is mostly like Simon & Garfunkel.”

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

Josiah was disowned by his family after he denounced the Southern cause. He was a stowaway on a merchant ship bound for England and found his voice singing itself 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, if not exclusively for the better.

Meanwhile, England-based Parker will play southern England native George Ulysses Brown.

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

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

The only steady work he was able to keep was as a singing waiter in the West End.

Eventually he met Josiah at the Old Star and the two set off for new lands, new livelihoods and new adventures.

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

According to Berkeley, the show consists of two acts, each lasting about 35 minutes.

“We pick those spots to play that help complement what we’re doing,” he says. “These old desert places. The Church of San Ysidro gives us the opportunity to travel through time. Our joke is that nobody takes us back because we often get chased out of town after a show. We’re just doing one show in New Mexico before we go into the studio to record our second album.”

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