Live Footage: Donivan Berubue at “Hear Here Presents”

Donivan Berube is an Arizona-based luthier, singer/songwriter, musician, touring cyclist and Contributing Music Editor at American Trails Magazine. Berube has led a rather fascinating life: a mother after his 17th birthday, Berube left his family and disassociated himself from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, saying goodbye to his family and friends — forever.

Berube took off to travel the hemisphere, living primarily out of a tent and working a variety of jobs — including an English teacher in Huaycán, Peru; a librarian in Big Sur, CA; a luthier in Arizona; a tour cyclist, who has taken solo, long-distance bicycle tours across the States and Iceland. During that same time, Berube wrote, recorded and released material through small labels like Blessed Feathers and others, which has received praise from NPR’s Morning Edition, Paste Magazine and Vinyl Me, Please. And he has had his writing appear in American Trails and 100 Albums You Need On Vinyl and Why.

Berube’s soon-to-be released album Truth In Constant Change For Now was written and recorded during pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions, amidst increasing sociopolitical and economic instability, racial injustice, growing inequality and other massive problems — while focusing over the fear of obscurity, persistence and strength, intimacy and isolation. Thematically, the album’s material has a central refrain: this is a mere moment in time, in which we are mere moments in time. This has always been reality but we’ve never quite seen it that way.

Recently, Bernube and his backing band performed three songs off his soon-to-be released album — “Wyoming/Dakota,” “Love Is a Dog From Hell,” and “Huaycán Song # 2” — at Milwaukee-based, live music video series Hear Here Presents.

  • “Wyoming/Dakota,” the first song of the session is one part anthemic 120 Minutesera indie rock, infectious jangle pop and contemplative shoegaze, centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, a propulsive rhythm section and Benube’s plaintive vocals. Lyrically. the song sounds — and feels — as though it comes from lived-in personal experience, with the song evoking driving under seemingly endless skies, feeling awe and confusion over the direction of your life.
  • “Love is a Dog From Hell,” the session’s second song is an enormous song centered around shimmering guitars, Benube’s plaintive vocals — and while starting with a slow-burning introduction, the song builds up in intensity, simultaneously capturing the passion, confusion, and ambivalence of love that sonically reminds me a bit of Pearl Jam.
  • “Huaycán Song #2” is a gentle reverie, centered featuring a narrator,’s nostalgia-fueled dreams of a former lover and of a simpler time; none of which he can ever get back because time is an endless river.

All of the material is gorgeous and just deeply thoughtful, and recorded in an intimate setting. Of course, it reminds me of how much I miss live music.