The Bergamot Takes on Benton Harbor
By | Mon, 01/31/2011 – 12:39am
A bergamot is an Italian orange used to induce happiness and relieve stress.

The Bergamot is a fresh, soulful sound originating out of South Bend, Indiana. Coincidentally, the eclectic singing duo – like the orange – also tend to induce happiness and relieve stress. This was made evident by the obvious pleasure of the crowd that turned out to hear them perform this weekend at The Livery in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

The Bergamot is Jillian Speece and Nathan Hoff, and the on-stage chemistry they exude suggests a pair that has made music together for years – eight years, in fact. As a little girl, Jillian learned to sing and write songs at home; Nathan picked up a guitar at the age of 13. They met in 2003 as high school students, and have been writing extraordinary music together ever since.

If you can imagine Jack Johnson playing and Adele singing a jazzed-up version of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” then you’re just beginning to tap into The Bergamot’s signature sound. They’re one part jazz, one part blues, and infused with just a touch of Motown. Pair that retro mood with some lovely lyrical imagery and you’ve got a fresh, fervent sound just waiting to burst at the seams.

And while they may be from Indiana, it’s clear that their hearts lie in southwest Michigan: “Haven,” the title track on their latest album, is “a profession of love for Lake Michigan,” says Jillian. The song “Railroad,” was written for another favorite summertime spot in New Buffalo, and even makes reference to the abundance of this small-town, agricultural region, with lyrics like “apricot was the jam we would take / and honey was our relinquishing grace / the sky our unending fate / when we would escape to the old tracks.”

Such prolific poetry and powerful vocals have taken them as far as LA, Nashville and back. “When she hits those notes,” quips Nathan, “it’s like a train comin’ through. Ain’t nothin’ stopping her!”

“Oooh, watch out, I’m a-chuggin’,” counters Jillian … chugging all the way to New York, the next stop on their journey. But not before they grace southwest Michigan with their presence at least once more: if you missed them on Saturday, you can plan to see them again on March 5th at the Union Coffee House in Buchanan.

The Livery hosts live concerts every weekend and Open Mic nights every Monday. Check out their Calendar of Events for the next performance to favor their stage in Benton Harbor.


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