Bernard Carney has been a full time entertainer for 37 years and with both humorous and serious repertoire, he relates well to a wide range of audiences.
Bernard has released ten successful albums, all recorded in Perth. His 2011 release Fly Above The Weather features family favourites The Feather Foot Fairy and Green Weapons, highlighting local musicians David Hyams on guitar, Roy Martinez on Bass and Angus Diggs on drums.
Bernard has completed a series of seven songs concerning the history and characters of WA’s Rottnest Island and was commissioned to write four songs for the opening of the Western Australian Maritime Museum. These all featured on his CD West.
Bernard’s shows focus on his original songs which are accompanied by a gutsy blues ragtime guitar style and often includes some classy instrumentals. He is a performer who likes to laugh with the audience and the light hearted delivery often belies the hard hitting issues in the songs.
He is a prominent guest at Australia’s major acoustic music festivals, including the Woodford Festival (Queensland), Port Fairy Festival (Victoria), the National Folk Festival (Canberra), the Bridgetown Blues Festival, and the Fairbridge and Nannup Folk Festivals .
He regularly tours the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore and has performed with international artists such as Gene Pitney, Taj Mahal, Foster and Allen, Ralph McTell and Richard Thompson. He had the honour of opening the late Stephane Grapelli’s final concert at the Perth Concert Hall.
Bernard’s busy schedule, other than touring, comprises community concerts in and around Western Australia, instant choirs for conferences and business functions, and tailor made songs for the occasion. He coordinates and hosts the City of Perth’s weekly Tuesday Morning Show and runs song writing and singing and guitar workshops.
2007 saw the birth of the Spirit of the Streets choir, originally put together from sellers of the Big Issue magazine and broadened out to include any potential singer from a disadvantaged background, or long term unemployed or disabled in some way. The choir is all inclusive and has performed at many conferences to do with social welfare and mental health.
In 2008 the choir successfully sold out the Perth Concert Hall in a joint concert with the Perth Male Voice Choir and Working Voices. The Spirit of the Streets goes from strength to strength with an average of 40-50 performances a year.
Bernard is a master lyricist, writing both humorous and serious songs. From fairy tales to political satire and hard hitting stories inspired by our lives and times. This album features songs created with skill and wit , with irresistible melodies , accompanied by his characteristic gutsy ragtime blues based guitar style.
The title track is the philosophical Fly Above the Weather which plays with the themes of triumph over adversity. There is praise for the WA landscape in A Windy Harbour Day, and a plea to stop the destruction of pre historic Rock Art in Murujuga. Songs of enduring love in Best News and She’s the One and of love lost in White Goods for the Heart. Bernard’s satirical, angry or reflective social comment is expressed in Green Weapons, Don’t Ask, Homeless in the Heart, A Rose in Your Heart, Dreams of Peace on Paper Wings, and Stolen Car which features, as a coda, the meditative guitar /cello instrumental Shadow and Light. And, at last, The Feather Foot Fairy a fairy tale for all ages, which has been requested by so many for so long.
1.Windy Harbour Day
4.Dreams of Peace on Paper Wings
5.Fly Above the Weather
7.She’s the One
8.The Feather Foot Fairy
9.White Goods for the Heart
11.Homeless in the Heart
12.A Rose in Your Heart
13.Stolen Car/ Shadow and Light.
The album was recorded and engineered by Eric Kowalski at his Pocket Universe studio in Bayswater. WA, and was produced by Bernard and Erik, with input from David Hyams. It features a galaxy of WA musicians, including David Hyams,(guitar dobro) Roy Martinez (Bass), Angus Diggs (Drums), Peter Grayling (cello) and Erik Kowarski (fiddle), who add their distinctive musical flair to Bernard’s latest work.
CD review by Russell Hannah (Bigruss)
From nostalgia to sorrow, from love and nonsense to political anger, from history to injustice, Bernard Carney’s latest musical offering, ‘Fly above the Weather’ is another fine example of this songwriter’s skills and talent.
It is also a much more personal reflection on Bernard’s view of the world he’s involved in the issues raised in many of the songs.
For your nostalgia fix, try the opening track, ‘A Windy Harbour Day’. I’m not sure where Bernard Carney’s Windy Harbour is, but I’m sure I’ve been there, or at least somewhere like it, “squeaky sound of sand beneath my feet”, “Kero fridge and a few cold beers” are images that give the place away.
Bernard Carney is the conductor of the WA equivalent of the ‘Choir of Hard Knocks’ and this is reflected in Stolen Car/ Shadow and Light. A young aboriginal dealt some pretty bad cards in life, manages to cop a six months sentence when he hitches a ride in a stolen car. From then on it’s all downhill. ‘Homeless in the Heart’ is another fine song that clearly comes from this facet of his life.
His sympathy with indigenous culture is also highlighted with the powerful Murujuga about the clash between Aboriginal Culture and White development.
Bernard makes a rare foray into love songs (once again he is involved). Nothing soppy here, but some great metaphors. The titles say it all- ‘White Goods for the Heart’, ‘She’s The One’ and ‘Best news of My Life’. ‘Don’t Ask’ challenges the notion of the promotion of war (particularly in the media) with its use of the noble words, liberation and democracy. The reality of course is much different and “We’re Never Gonna Know’. It’s Irony with a capital I when he takes on the arms manufacturers who are developing ‘environmentally friendly weapons –(It almost makes the mind boggle). The ludicrousness of this is emphasised when ‘Dreams of Peace on Paper Wings’ tells the story of the little Hiroshima girl who died of leukaemia afterwards- environmentally friendly indeed.
It wouldn’t be a Bernard Carney without a touch of Australian history and ‘A Rose in Your Heart’ is a tribute to the convict women sent here for petty crimes. ‘Feather Foot Fairy’ stands out as being different from the rest of the album. A bouncy song written for his grandchildren and how lucky were they to have this song of imagination about fairies, dinosaurs, butterfly bats and starfish birds? Adults will like it too.
The title track is a recipe for dealing with life’s problems – simply rise above them, get above the ‘weather’ (as opposed to the solution of ‘Getting under the Weather’).
This is a thoughtful album, there is a fair bit of the poet in Bernard Carney- his use of metaphor and simile in his songwriting is never obscure. Even his more personal and introspective songs can be related to and this is the mark of a good songwriter.
There is a cast of many as backing on the album including cellist, Peter Grayling, David Hyams and his good lady wife Eleanor, all of whom add to the quality of the overall production and enhance its attractiveness. Go out and buy it.