The Lucky Losers
Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz have each worked professionally as blues musicians in the Bay Area for several decades. Their paths crossed in 2012 at The Saloon in San Francisco where Cathy was performing with guitarist Dave Workman. Phil, taken with Cathy’s talent and stage persona, asked her to be a paid guest on one of his shows at Club Fox in Redwood City, California. While rehearsing for the show, Cathy was impressed with Phil’s taste in material–the scope of it–and his singing ability–and she was also taken with the overall level of musicianship. By no means was Phil doing the old shuffle in blues–he was instead adding flavors of country, soul, and rhythm & blues to his sound. She saw tremendous potential in him as a performer. A tall, blonde, good looking man that wore suits and hats and strange checkered shoes–she liked his style. When he would bend down on one knee and sing a Charlie Rich song, she felt goosebumps. But he was married.
But in 2013, a year later, Phil went through a divorce, and they started seeing each other romantically. Cathy had also previously been in a long-term relationship with bassist Johnny Ace. So a new chapter in both their lives emerged.
On a trip in the summer of 2013 they were driving down a deserted road in Sedona, Arizona listening to some Willie Dixon “Big Three” songs. They started to spontaneously sing together. “It was wonderful,” Cathy says. “I knew immediately that we had something.” Cathy, always ready for a new idea or project, suggested they try and combine their talents and focus on duet singing in the style of blues americana.
They started out by competing in a regional International Blues Challenge (IBC) sponsored by The Golden Gate Blues Society. They fittingly won “The Wild Card” round, which allowed them to compete in the finals. They were a brand new band and they didn’t win and get to compete nationally, but a clear direction was set. A solid group was formed behind Cathy and Phil with guitarist Marvin Greene, keyboardist Kevin Zuffi, drummer Robi Bean, and bassist Tim Wagar.
Since July of 2014 “The Lucky Losers” have made a great debut album, “A Winning Hand” which has charted all the way to #5 with The Roots Music Report and to #14 on The Living Blues nationally compiled radio charts. They have been playing all over Northern California in front of hundreds of people: Calistoga, Half Moon Bay, Napa, Redwood City, San Rafael, San Jose, San Francisco, Martinez, Vallejo, and many other cities. At the end of 2015, they completed a month-long tour where they performed in 16 venues in 8 states: Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, and Florida. Cathy and Phil are now hard at work on their 2nd Blues Americana album "In Any Town" to be released in June of 2016. They are also planning two new tours in June, and yet another in August of 2016.
Their new sound is blues americana at its best--a personalized spin on traditional forms of music. They are drawing from the American songbook—lyrical ideas and snatches of music from Johnny Cash, to Allen Toussaint, to Mavis Staples! It’s an eclectic sound firmly rooted in blues. But vocals are the centerpiece! And Cathy and Phil are utilizing a great theatrical idea—the tension between male and female—up and down—winning and losing.