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The trio Raynes features North Dakota natives Joe Berger, of Mandan, and Mat Charley, of Minot. From left are Mark John Race, of Durham, England, Berger and Charley.

Mandan native Joe Berger signed the deal of a lifetime.

Berger, 25, is part of the transatlantic trio Raynes, a Los Angeles-based band that recently signed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV. The two other members of the group are Minot musician Mat Charley and lead singer Mark John Race, of Durham, England.

Berger met Charley while attending the University of Mary, and the two found Race through the social media platform Instagram in April 2017. Since then, the group has written dozens of songs together, which caught the eye of a Sony/ATV representative in New York City. The three signed a publishing deal with the company in June.

"We are all so extremely excited about it, still," Berger said. "The excitement hasn't gone down since the day we signed."

Berger took guitar lessons starting in sixth grade until his freshman year of college. He said he learned at a young age of his affinity for music, often sitting alone listening to the radio or music on his portable CD player.

Berger, who graduated from U-Mary in 2016, met Charley during his senior year of college. They started playing music together and, after graduation, went to Los Angeles and found a manager.

Charley, 28, has been playing music for more than 20 years. He started composing when he was 13 years old and has taught himself to play about 10 instruments over the years, including the violin and mandolin — "anything with strings," he said.

Berger and Charley were searching for a singer by posting ads on Craigslist and taking out classifieds in local newspapers in Los Angeles, when Charley grew tired of waiting.

"It was crazy because we had no real leads or anything," he said. "It took maybe a month or so, but, ultimately, I got fed up and didn't want to wait for people to respond."

So, Charley took to Instagram, spending several hours watching videos of singers until he stumbled on one of 23-year-old Race. He reached out to Race, and Race immediately agreed to fly to Los Angeles to audition for the band.

"We just clicked," Charley said.

The three then signed the deal with Sony/ATV, which Charley said was "a dream come true," and one that he had been working toward since he was 13. 

Berger said the band is folk-style, but the musicians sing pop songs. The group is influenced by bands Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers and John Mayer.

Since signing the deal, the group members have been writing and recording songs remotely while Race works on getting a work visa. Ultimately, they hope to find a producer to record their music.

"To be honest with you, we all feel extremely blessed, because we're all from small towns," Berger said. "I think that's another reason why we all get along so well; there's not all these big egos clashing ... we all feel super blessed to have this opportunity, and we're not taking it for granted."

To listen to Raynes, visit

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(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or


Education and Health Reporter