Danbury solo Peter Herger began songwriting since law school, but only in the past month or so, has his music career taken off to a place he never expected. The 30-year-old’s first music video, “A Train,” has become a YouTube sensation, getting more than one million hits. Also, his music is now being played on rock station, I-95, WRKI-FM in Brookfield.
“It’s really hard these days to break into FM rock radio,” Herger said.
“It was much more than I could have anticipated,” said Herger, who practices family, real estate and bankruptcy law in Danbury and White Plains, N.Y. “We’ve been more successful than we thought we would be.”
Herger, who considers some of his primary musical influences to be Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Coldplay, said that making it in the music world requires patience and perseverance. “If you believe you have something authentic to say, you will persevere,” Herger said.
“A Train” is about people facing fear and eventually finding a better place.
The video, which switches from black and white to color throughout, features Herger playing the piano and singing. At certain points, he walks along railroad tracks and passengers wait on a platform for the train, which eventually comes as the video ends.
“Are you ready to ditch your old woes and face your fears with me?
‘Cause this train don’t stop in Chicago, Hartford, New York, L.A. or Graceland
You’re on the A-Train to the Promised Land.”
Brian T. Romano, a friend, said Herger is a “very passionate about the music he likes… He would play seven nights if he could. He would play any night, any time.” Romano said that Herger has one song called “Danbury” that he plays in local venues and the crowds love it. “He’s popular in Danbury,” Romano said.
As kids, the two went to St. Peter’s School in Danbury together. They lost touch when Herger moved away in fifth grade, but reconnected at a bar review class in New York. These days, the two are pretty tight, with Herger even going to court once in awhile to cover for Romano, a solo with a criminal defense practice. “It’s nice to have a friend who you can watch as a musician, who will cover a court case for you when you have too many,” Romano said.
Romano has seen Herger and his backing group, the Peter Herger Band, perform many times, including in NYC clubs and on Danbury’s Green. Romano describes his friend as a hybrid of Roy Orbison, Bruce Springsteen and Jason Mraz, a pop and alternative rock musician. “His music has a way of getting in your head and you can’t get it out,” Romano said.
Herger has his own dreams of a promised land — one where he can make his living playing music. Until then, “the day job is the pay job until you can spend all the time playing rock and roll for a living,” said Herger, who attended Columbia University and Hofstra University, where he got his law degree. “Making it in the music world these days is as hard as it’s ever been.”
In some ways, there are similarities between the practice of law and music, he said. “It’s a journey, just like the practice of law,” Herger said of his love of music. “Both of them take introspection and self improvement … “
Herger said his lyrics focus on people powerless against the system and about a world in turmoil, including the nation’s economic crisis.
“In a roundabout way, I write about a search for justice in a world that is not welcoming of those values,” Herger said.
Herger, who began studying classical piano at the age of 8, said the most gratifying aspect of his legal practice is “helping people through difficult times, and getting them on solid ground.”
“In my law practice, I like fighting for justice for people who we don’t always think deserve it,” Herger said. “Law and music are both professions and are also a calling.”
Herger said if he makes it as a musician and can quit his day-to-day practice, he will still practice law in some form. He said he will likely do pro bono work, he said. “One of my professors said, ‘Once a lawyer, always a lawyer.’ “
Herger, who doesn’t listen to music while in his office, but does listen to rock music of all kinds in the car while commuting to courts, said it’s not always easy balancing his two passions. “Sleep becomes a premium,” Herger said. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”•