Terry A La Berry 'fortunate' to have been a Berkshire kid

By Margaret Button, The Berkshire Eagle

LENOX — Terry A La Berry, longtime drummer for Arlo Guthrie and a popular children's entertainer, was on tour with Guthrie when the coronavirus pandemic hit. He returned home to Lenox to weather it out, and ended up writing his autobiography, "Just a Berkshire Kid."

"People said I should write down what I've experienced," he said in a phone interview. "I began it around February, although, I was thinking about it months before, but never had the time to do it because I was on tour. I had to be in the house to write it."

The book is a collection of A La Berry's memories and experiences over the years "that I was fortunate to have," he said. "I wanted to take the opportunity to share them with anyone interested. This seemed like the perfect time to do it." He added, "I wanted to relate some of the joys and stories of growing up. Hopefully, people can relate to it. It's not a deep, dark book. It's about the experiences and the doors that opened to me because I lived in the Berkshires — the things I got to do and the people I got to work with."

One of the opportunities came when he was in his early teens and he was cast in a play with Anne Bancroft at the Berkshire Playhouse. "She was supposed to say something embarrassing and I had to react to it," he said. "I had no acting experience and couldn't act embarrassed. Anne had recently starred in the movie, 'The Graduate,' and began talking to me like Mrs. Robinson. I turned red and then purple. From then on, all she had to do was give me that Mrs. Robinson look and I'd turn purple." He added, "For a high school kid to get an experience like that probably wouldn't have happened in the city, but it did here in the Berkshires."

A La Berry, whose given last name is Hall, moved to the Berkshires with his parents when he was 2.

"I'm proud to be a lifelong Berkshire person," he said. "I got to grow up here in a special time. The music business here was really amazing — folk and rock — in this area. It was extraordinary. I grew up here during a really special time. Those of us who were lucky enough to grow up here, have a special affection for the Berkshires." He added, "The reason I got to do what I did in my life was because I was here in the Berkshires and being exposed to things like Tanglewood."

A La Berry's parents, Jim and Franny Hall, moved to the Berkshires to teach at the former Windsor Mountain School, now the Boston University Tanglewood Institute in Lenox. A La Barry attended Lenox Elementary School, then Windsor Mountain. He still lives in Lenox.

He said his love of music springs from going to concerts at Tanglewood with his father when he was a child.

"Music was something I loved doing, and I started playing the drums. I wanted to play rock-and-roll, and after finishing school I played in local bands, including The Quarry, which morphed into Shenandoah."

A La Berry said Guthrie would sometimes come to hear Shenandoah and eventually asked the band to go on tour with him. It was Guthrie, who gave him the name "A La Berry," he said.

"The first time we worked with him, he said, 'Gosh, I have to introduce you guys and I don't know your last names.' I told him, 'Terry Hall,' and he said, 'No, that's boring. I think you're more of a Terry A La Berry.'" And the name stuck.