Charlie's Beat

Berry Burleson

Berry Burleson is one of those guys who’s been on the music scene for close to 50 years. He played drums for his first bar gig at Possum’s Pub (now Shipley’s) in a band called R.A. Sloane and Company, back when he was 14 years old.

“The late Randy Sloane was the lead of that band, and Bob Center played too,” relates Berry. “The owner of the bar was nervous and kept showing me the door out the back, in case the excise cops started checking for underage kids.

“I was actually in a band before R.A. Sloane with a bunch of Shawe kids, when I was about 13. There was Dave Wells, Dave Smith, Norman Selle, Termite Walters and me. We called ourselves Black Bottom Feeling.

“Next came a band called Catapsis, with Matt Inskeep from Hanover on guitar. Matt was one of the best guitarists I’ve ever heard. There was also Mike Gray, Bill Mercury, Norman Selle again and me on drums. Rocky Harrell was our booking agent. That one lasted about a year and a half. Most of those early bands didn’t stay together for more than two years, seems like.

“When I was 17 I got married and moved up to Indy. The marriage didn’t work out, but I kept busy with music. I was in a band called Redgrave up there.

“When I came back to Madison I was still just barely old enough to drink, and I got into my first full-time professional band, led by Frank Pearson, called Cross Country. We were playing five or six nights a week all around Louisville and Clarksville, and I was making a living at it. No day job.

“But like I said, two years or so and it was on to something new. In 1981 I started my first band called Borderline, with Glen Derrett on guitar. We played the Hereford Lounge a lot. Delsie Hereford was just about the best bar owner I ever knew. A real sweetheart to work for.

“Great story from that era … our lead singer Mike Keithley had just undergone this huge back surgery and was in a full body cast. But he didn’t want to miss the gig. So we put a hospital bed in the back of a van, laid him in there and drove him to Hereford Lounge. Then we stood him up in front of the mic. He killed it that night, maybe his best show ever. I still get goose bumps thinking about it.

“Lemme see, after Borderline I played with the band Aura for a time, with Rusty Bladen, Mark Bear, Bobby Sampson and those guys. That led to a band called Second Helping. Next I took over drums for Dennis O’Neal in the Band With No Name.

“Along about that time I helped the guys kick start the band Young Country, and that one lasted about six years. I’ll just rattle off some more that people might remember. Rusty Bladen and the Shakin’ Jakes, the Hair Farmers, Cactus Jack, and most recently Branded. I’ve also played with Hewitt & Fink, oh, and The Blues Devils.

“But these days I’m involved in a very exciting new project that I think will really be fun and rewarding. I’m building a small freestanding recording and practice studio over in Milton. It will have a full 24-track recording mixer and video capability. My brother, Marshall Falconberry, is helping me with the interior design. We’re going for a French country barn look!

“My hope is the new studio will act as a kind of incubator and collaboration hub for all the great new young talent we have around here, and all the established pros. I want to see new guys like Brice Hall mixing with the experienced mainstay guys. When you put different talents and styles together, just the smallest detail or nuance can create magic.”


If you take a look at the calendar for Friday and Saturday, you get a sense of why we like to call Madison “Indiana’s Music City.” There are FIVE live music events on each day. Not too many towns our size can boast that kind of lively nightlife. The shows that might merit special attention are the Amy Noel shows with Michael Fortunato on sax and flute. Country fans will want to check out Dallas Moore up at the Moose Lodge on Friday, open to the public and NO cover charge. Finally, if you like the honky-tonk Johnny Cash kind of sound, be sure to catch Jerry King and his band at Thomas Family on Saturday.

This Week in Music

Thursday, Oct. 22

Mad Paddle Brewery — Tracy Thompson & Elaine Basham

Friday, Oct. 23

Lytle Park — Live Lunch, (11:30 a.m.)

Off-Broadway Taproom — Amy Noel, Danny Cook & Michael Fortunato

Broadway Tavern — Leah Pruett

Moose Lodge — Dallas Moore (open to public)

Riverboat Inn — Joe Perkinson

Saturday, Oct. 24

Mad Paddle Brewery — Leah Pruett & Craig Phillip

L&L Lounge — The Habit

Riverboat Inn — Joe Perkinson, Amy Noel & Michael Fortunato

Thomas Family Winery — Jerry King & the Rivertown Ramblers

Off-Broadway Taproom — (music TBA)

Wednesday, Oct. 28

Elks Lodge — Joe Perkinson (open to public)

Charlie Rohlfing is a retired advertising man and partner in The Red Bicycle Hall music venue. Look for his distinctive fedora bobbing above the crowd, anywhere live local music is happening.

Charlie Rohlfing is a retired advertising man and partner in The Red Bicycle Hall music venue. Look for his distinctive fedora bobbing above the crowd, anywhere live local music is happening.