THE LUCKY LOSERS AND THEIR WINNING STREAK
How two veteran Bay Area artists keep beating the odds
Danger meets sophistication in the soulful music of The Lucky Losers, San Francisco’s premiere male/female duet fronted band. 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.
Described as “the finest light skinned blues singer in the U.S.!” (Real Blues), fiery Dallas born entertainer, Cathy Lemons has a velvet voice with a gritty edge and the rebel conviction of a woman risen from the ashes. “Top-flight blues singer/harmonica player” (San Jose Mercury News), New Jersey native, Phil Berkowitz is The Lucky Losers’ mysterious leading man. Phil possesses a polished tenor that recalls legends of the past and his expert musicianship fuels the passionate dialogue with Cathy. The stark contrast between incandescent Cathy Lemons and elegant Phil Berkowitz makes for a captivating musical union, breathing new life into American songwriting tradition and the vanishing art of duet singing.
Since July of 2014, The Lucky Losers emerged onto the scene and have been entertaining audiences across America ever since. In June of 2015, Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz delivered an outstanding debut album, “A Winning Hand", which was engineered and co-produced by 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" peaked at #5 on The Roots Music Report’s “Top 50 Blues Albums” and reached #1 on Blues 411's "A Baker's Dozen of Blues". Soon after, Chef Jimi Patricola nominated the record for a Jimi Award in the "Best Traditional Album " category. Dan Akroyd (Elwood Blues) chose The Lucky Losers' original song, "Change in the Weather" as "Bluesbreaker of the Week" for his internationally syndicated "Bluesmobile/Everything Blues" radio show. The album was featured in “On the Radar” from the globally popular “The Alternate Root,” and was recognized by Richard L’Hommedieu, king of the “Indie Blues” movement, on “Making a Scene". 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 more agreed that The Lucky Losers were holding a winning hand. In the fall of 2015, The Lucky Losers embarked on a 16-date national tour in support of "A Winning Hand", performing for full houses in Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Florida. It was a grand success. The album also made the "Top Blues Albums of 2015" list by The Roots Music Report.
In 2016, The Lucky Losers returned to the studio to record with Kid Andersen, which evolved into "In Any Town", their sophomore release on Dirty Cat Records. Inspired by music of the 60's and true events from their beautiful, twisted lives, Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz serve up medicine for wayward souls, offering glimpses of paradise through a veil of tears. Featuring stellar musical contributions from Kid Andersen, Paris Slim, Terry Hanck, and Jeff Jensen, "In Any Town" is carrying The Lucky Losers on an epic winning streak. Within 2 weeks of its release it charted at #2 on The Roots Music Report's "Top Albums/All Genres/ California" and #3 for "Top Blues Rock Albums." Living Blues Radio Charts placed it at #6 only a month later. Eight songs from the album charted into the top 20 on The Roots Music Report's "Top Singles." And the critics gave 5-star reviews from all over the world from France to Germany to Australia to The United Kingdom. The album made several "Top 10 Blues Albums of 2016," critic's picks, and Richard Ludmerer (of indie king "Making a Scene") listed it at #10 in his "Top 50 Independent Blues Albums of 2016"!
In 2017, The Lucky Losers took their album "In Any Town" on the road, rolling the dice through first a festival in Baja, California, Mexico, then onto club dates and concert series in Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas, New Orleans, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida! The incendiary guitarist, Laura Chavez, who was listed by Guitar Player Magazine as one of the world's "Top 50 Sensational Female Guitarists" accompanied them on their 22 venue/ nine state tour. In 2017 The Lucky Losers were also nominated for two Independent Blues Awards: Best Independent Blues/R&B/Soul Album for "In Any Town" and Best Independent Blues/R&B/Soul Song for "It Ain't Enough".
In 2018, The Lucky Losers are travelling down new roads, and exploring new territory. They will release a new blues/R&B/soul album, "Blind Spot," on May 18 2018. “Blind Spot” continues The Lucky Losers’ long-standing winning streak with legendary producer/ engineer, Kid Andersen. Recorded at his famed Greaseland Studios in San Jose, CA, the album is solely comprised of original material created by Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz alongside their illustrious and multi-talented songwriting partner, Danny Caron (Charles Brown). “Blind Spot” features scintillating musical contributions from 6-time Blues Music Award nominated guitarist, Kid Andersen, IBMA Momentum Award winning violinist Annie Staninec (Rod Stewart), 2018 BMA nominated saxophonist, Nancy Wright, and Laura Chavez (Nikki Hill), who is listed as one of Guitar Player Magazine’s "Top 50 Sensational Female Guitarists”. The Lucky Losers also recruited as supporting musicians the great keyboard player Chris Burns (The California Honeydrops), their newest addition to the band, guitarist, Ian Lamson (Elvin Bishop), and the superb bassist, Endre Tarczy (Koko Montoya). The Lucky losers will embark, from April 11 - May 16, on a 15 state/25 venue tour, travelling through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado. Accompanying Cathy and Phil on the tour are guitarist, Ian Lamson (best known for his work touring work with the great Elvin Bishop), Jon Otis on drums (Johnny Otis's son), and bassist Robby Yamilov.
HOW CATHY AND PHIL BECAME THE LUCKY LOSERS
The Lucky Losers were born in the summer of 2013 on a deserted road in Sedona, Arizona. 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.