With the sexy image and sultry vocals of West Coast actress-turned-singer Terri Nunn, the band Berlin helped introduce American music fans to Europe’s Electro-Pop sound. The band's racy first hit debuted in 1982.
“It was really hard to get radio play because that kind of lyric content had never been done in a pop song before. There were towns that wouldn’t let us perform live because they ‘…didn’t want to hear us sing about that kind of stuff’,” said Nunn, long-distance from Santa Rosa Valley, Calif.. “It’s tame by today’s standards, but it was pretty cutting edge then. Because of that, it exploded as an underground hit.”
Nunn loves the evolution of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) and where it’s gone since Berlin first hit the scene. “EDM is exploding and it’s re-inspired me to use sounds people have not heard Berlin use before,” she said.
Evidence of her ambition to stay cutting edge is Berlin’s latest studio album, “Animal,” which finds Nunn collaborating with a variety of new partners including John King, half of award-winning production duo The Dust Brothers (Beastie Boys, Rolling Stones, Beck). “I already had two songs written (“Mom” and “Stand Up”), but there was no momentum. Once John got involved things started moving. We wrote ‘Break the Chains’ together which really kick-started ‘Animal’,” said Nunn.
Nunn also tapped the mad skills of fresh young songwriter Derek Cannavo. “The first song I did with Derek was ‘Animal’ and I got so excited I nearly handcuffed him to my office desk and said I’ll feed you once in a while but we gotta do more of this.” In three months they co-wrote seven songs.
Nunn looks and sounds as amazing as she did three decades ago. She said quitting smoking was the best thing for her career. “I definitely sing better. After I quit smoking my range expanded both high and low,” she said. “I had no idea I could have that kind of range because when I started I was a smoker. Plus, I’m a vegan, I work out a lot and I focus on staying happy.”
Nunn and her current posse of capable young players are spending much of the summer on the road touring behind “Animal” and rebuilding the Berlin brand. They perform at 8 p.m. July 1st at City Winery (1200 West Randolph St.) in Chicago with special guest, Vapornet. Tickets: $28-$36. More: (312) 733-9463 or www.citywinery.com/chicago.
“I’m very proud of ‘Animal’ and I want people to hear it, but I know when I see a band I want to hear songs I know,” said Nunn. “Yes, we’ll play some new songs, but of course we are playing ‘Take My Breath Away’ (from the “Top Gun” soundtrack), ‘No More Words,’ and all the old songs people remember.”
• At press time, I learned Buckwheat Zydeco will bring his Louisiana sound to Valparaiso when co-headlining the first annual “Lightning Bug Festival” on July 6 at Sunset Hill Park. Fresh from his televised jam with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots marking his comeback after 2013”s cancer scare, the Sunset gig will be Zydeco’s first Northwest Indiana performance in many years. A fundraiser for The Dunes Learning Center, the fest is a great fit for this artist who loves kids and has two successful children’s albums in his catalog.
• Starr Lee Williams – vocalist/band leader of the popular Northwest Indiana covers group, Dreamz – presents her annual breast cancer fundraiser “Ladies Rock Night” on Saturday at Sunset Lounge (5844 U.S. Hwy. 6) in Portage. Following a late morning motorcycle run that kicks off the event, Dreamz and other female-fronted bands Seldom Told and Satalyte Gypsies will perform. More info: (219) 762-6065.
• Singer/songwriter/guitarist Yvonne Doll and her Chicago-based indie rock combo, The Locals, release their new single “The Wilful Suspension of Disbelief” tonight at Emporium Arcade Bar (1366 N. Milwaukee) on a multi-artist bill including Future Laureates, ARS Nova and Friendly People. Hear it now: www.localsrock.com.
• 89.1FM-Lakeshore Public Radio's “Midwest BEAT with Tom Lounges” program theme at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 1 is “American Pride” with pro-American tunes by Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich, Merle Haggard, and others. One of the most patriotic Americans I know, Charlie Daniels will guest and will share his thoughts on America the beautiful. Of course a few choice Daniels’ recordings will also be featured. Encore broadcast at 10 p.m. July 4. Lakeshore streams live at: www.lakeshorepublicmedia.org/radio.
Email Tom Lounges at firstname.lastname@example.org