Making a Scene Presents an Interview with Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz of the Lucky Losers
Accompanied by a dynamic four piece ensemble, veteran Bay Area artists, Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz deliver a truly signature sound, layering elements of Stax/Volt styled R&B, electric Americana, and psychedelic rock atop a Chicago and Texas blues foundation. The Lucky Losers perform powerful original music about transcending the dark side of the American dream, the beauty and pain of being alive, and devotion in all it’s complexities.
With a Willie Dixon song on the stereo, Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz spontaneously began to sing together and felt a spark of magic. So it was, that two seasoned blues musicians came together to begin a new adventure, inspired by the vanishing art of duet singing.
Roughly a year earlier on a dark night in San Francisco, soulful vocalist/harmonica ace, Phil Berkowitz dropped by The Saloon and was instantly captivated by the siren song of blues singing legend, Cathy Lemons. Phil sought to make her acquaintance, inviting her to perform with him at Club Fox in Redwood City. While rehearsing for the show, Cathy Lemons marveled at Phil’s encyclopedic knowledge of American music and his unique sound, a hybrid of country, soul, and R&B. A tall, blonde, good looking man, decked out in tailored suits, fine hats, and strange checkered shoes — Cathy felt an immediate attraction. When Phil would bend down on one knee and sing a Charlie Rich song, she felt goosebumps. Then she noted the shiny ring on his hand… Phil was a married man.
A year later, Phil went through a divorce and Cathy separated from her long-time beau, Johnny Ace. They fell in love and took off on a road trip to Sedona, Arizona. The rest is history.
Upon their return to the Bay Area, Cathy and Phil continued to sing together, fashioning the beginnings of what would become their distinctive signature sound. An inventive, hypnotic spin on blues, classic R&B, and Americana.
The Lucky Losers tested the waters 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. Although they were a brand new band and did not take the crown for a chance to compete nationally, it was clear as day that they were stronger together than apart.
In July of 2014, The Lucky Losers emerged onto the scene and have been entertaining audiences across America ever since. Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz delivered an outstanding debut album, “A Winning Hand“, which marked the beginning of their fruitful collaboration with Kid Andersen at his famous Greaseland in San Jose, California. The Lucky Losers recruited top West Coast players, such as Grammy Award winning guitarist, Steve Freund (Sunnyland Slim), Andersen himself, and Ben Rice, who won the 2014 International Blues Challenge for “Guitar” in the Solo/Duo category, to make their dreams come alive. “A Winning Hand” went on to peak at #5 on The Roots Music Report’s “Top 50 Blues Albums” and reach #1 on Blues 411’s “A Baker’s Dozen of Blues”, garnering a nomination for a Jimi Award in the “Best Traditional Album” category. The album was listed as one of the “Top Blues Albums of 2015” by The Roots Music Report. Dan Akroyd (Elwood Blues) chose their original song, “Change in the Weather” as “Bluesbreaker of the Week” for his internationally syndicated “Bluesmobile/Everything Blues” radio show. The Lucky Losers landed the cover of the November 2015 issue of French magazine, Blues and Co. Living Blues, Elmore, Classicalite, Blues Matters, Blues Blast, Blues Bytes, and additional influencers in the blues community concluded that The Lucky Losers had dealt a winning hand.
In the late spring of 2019, Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz headed back out on the road, bringing their music to the American public on a 13-state tour. Upon their return, they discovered that The Independent Blues Awards honored them with 5 award nominations: Best Independent Blues R&B/Soul CD; Best Independent Blues-Soul Artist; Best R&B/Soul Song for “Take The Long Road” (featuring Laura Chavez on guitar); Best Blues Rock Song for “Alligator Baptism;” and Best Contemporary Blues Song for “The River.” Additionally, Cathy Lemons’ song, “The River” was awarded an honorable mention in the International Songwriting Competition, competing against 19,000 global artists to become a finalist of only 16 songwriters in the “Blues” category.
At present, The Lucky Losers are preparing to unveil their fourth studio album, “Godless Land,” slated for release on August 14, 2020 through Vizztone Records.