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      The Right Bastards
    Folkin' Bastards

    Singer-songwriter Mark Berube and his buddies in the Right Bastards merge folk, rock, a wry outlook and storytelling sense into three-minute slices of life.


    The Right Bastards' Mark Berube didn't come to New York to be a singer-songwriter. Actually, the plan was to come to New York University's vaunted drama school, become a playwright and maybe do a little acting. But like some of the characters in his songs, where he wound up was not where he thought he was headed.

    Mark Berube
    Scott Wolfson
    Skyler Bode
    Dan Weiss.

    Related links: Official site
    Available from

    Nobody Likes You


    Sketches from the Sidewalk


    Shut Up So I Can Play

    Mark Berube:
    Bomb-Sniffing Dog   RA  MP3
    Florentino's Lament   RA  MP3
    Ten Years Down the Road   RA  MP3
    © 1999 Mark Berube. Used by permission.

    The Right Bastards:
    Uncle Charlie's Clothes   RA  MP3
    © 2000 Mark Berube. Used by permission.
    "My plays tended to be relatively short, a half-hour or so," he remembers.

    "Gradually, they got smaller and smaller as I found my attention span getting shorter and shorter. Eventually I discovered that I could tell a story in three minutes without ever having to call on another person to read my lines."

    Now Berube writes pithy little stories with a sense of humor or maybe just an odd perspective — in folk-song form for his solo shows or rock-song form for the Bastards. Some of them are collected on a live CD called "Shut Up So I Can Play."

    "I honestly don't sit down to write funny songs," he says. "Often I'll find that a song is funny only after I've played it for people and they tell me it's funny."

    Case in point: there's the one about the bomb-sniffing dog called "Bomb-Sniffing Dog". (Hear it on RealAudio or MP3.) The story is about Berube's real-life experience on a catering job for a Tina Brown party where British Prime Minister Tony Blair was expected to attend, so the whole place was being scoured by the Secret Service.

    The dogs didn't find any bombs but took considerable interest in the shrimp.

    There are also slightly more fictitious songs about discovering your newfound maturity at a class reunion ("Ten Years Down the Road," RA, MP3) and consummating a long-denied love ("Florentino's Lament," RA, MP3) — the latter inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "Love in the Time of Cholera."

    The Right Bastards — which has an almost entirely separate repertoire from Berube's solo stuff — is a joint project started two years ago by Berube and NYU schoolmate Scott Wolfson.

    "We went to class together and then harmonized in the hallways and all the usual stuff, you know?" Berube says.

    The partnership was originally an acoustic duo, which accounts for the attention to songwriting and the wry lyrics on songs like "Uncle Charlie's Clothes" (RA, MP3). It's about going through the mundane residue of a deceased relative's life, the stuff you wouldn't really mean to pass on to anyone when you go, and wondering whether he's obligated to wear the guy's clothes out of respect.

    Uncle Charlie died and he left me a bunch of clothes.
    Couple of shirts and some pants, but nothing matches.
    A gray T-shirt with navy-blue sleeves that says "Shit happens."
    Would it be okay if I never wore that one?

    One man's good will is another man's curse.
    I could give them all to charity but maybe that's worse.
    I'm just wearing the damn things in Uncle Charlie's honor,
    Because now that he's a goner it's all he's got left
    to make his mark in the world.

    So how are Berube and his Right Bastard comrades going to break through in the competitive New York music scene?

    "Man, if I only knew that," he says. "I guess it pays to be aggressive — play in the subway, in the park, put up posters, hand out fliers.

    "If you ever come upon a really decent answer to that question, please share it with me. I'd love to know."

    Meanwhile, besides the subway and the parks, New Yorkers have the chance to hear the band at the Baggot Inn on Thursday (Oct. 4) and to catch Berube in occasional solo gigs as well.

    SEPTEMBER 30, 2001

    Reader comments on The Right Bastards:

  • Bastards   from Sdog, Nov 1, 2002

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