Cindy Lee Berryhill back after a decade with ‘The Adventurist’

Cindy Lee Berryhill is playing on a bill with David Lindley. (Courtesy Joe Murray)

Cindy Lee Berryhill is playing on a bill with David Lindley. (Courtesy Joe Murray)

Fans haven’t heard from folk-rocker Cindy Lee Berryhill for a decade, since 2007’s “Beloved Stranger,” which today she jokingly calls a vanity project: “I made it over the course of a year and a half, and I literally made it in someone’s house, then put it out myself, so there was no distribution, no press, no anything,” she says. She had serious reasons for waiting so long to release 2017’s “The Adventurist,” her comeback for Omnivore. Seven years after suffering a traumatic brain injury in a bicycle accident, her husband, Crawdaddy Magazine publisher Paul Williams, began a slow descent into dementia, leading to hospitalization, nursing home care, and eventually his death in 2013. She painstakingly created these songs in loving tribute.

A decade is a long time in showbiz.

Right. With my last record, I had a baby at the time, my husband was falling into dementia, so I made it over a year and a half. And the only way I was able to finish it was through the graces of good friends, who would say, “You have to come back into our studio and do this.” And it was fun for me, like, “At least I can think about something other than the challenges of my daily life.” But this new album was a real concerted effort. I started writing the songs after my husband went into the nursing home, and most of the songs were written from then until he died.

Up until that time, your days had been spent taking care of Paul?

Yes. Starting about 2004, 2005, he started to fall into dementia. But by 2009, I just couldn’t take care of him anymore, so I had to put him in a nursing home. And it freed me up to be able to write again. The worst part was scrambling with all the doctors to figure out what was going wrong. It was happening at the same time they were trying to figure out why football players were having dementia, but they hadn’t figured it out yet.

But you wanted to focus on the good times with “The Adventurist”?

Yeah. And except for maybe “Somebody’s Angel,” it’s not a confessional record. Paul and I would have these conversations about the muse, and what its effect was on a creative person. And one of the last projects he wanted to work on was a book about desire, and how it comes out in art and literature. So I decided that I was going to make an album about desire, where I could reference my own experience of being in love with Paul, but in an enchanted forest kind of place.

David Lindley, with Cindy Lee Berryhill
Where: Sweetwater Music Hall, 19 Corte Madera Ave., Mill Valley
When: 8 p.m. May 28
Tickets: $35 to $40
Contact: (415) 388-3850,
Note: Lindley and Berryhill also appear at 8 p.m. May 29 at Yoshi’s, 510 Embarcadero West., Oakland. Tickets are $24-$54. AdventuristBeloved StrangerCindy Lee BerryhillOmnivorePop Music

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