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.
CD review by Tony Smith
I am not sure whether I am more in awe of Bernard Carney’s obvious musicality or his mastery of humorous lyrics. When Carney combines these skills so effortlessly, as very few performers can do, the result is gentle but entertaining humour.
The Collection contains tracks from Carney’s three previous commercially available albums.
Western Australian Bernard Carney appears regularly at folk festivals across the country.
Besides being a superb songwriter, he is an astute conductor of community choirs.
He adds flavour to his live performances by adding little flashes of insight. So, he tells us that an anagram of Readers Digest is Dead Tigers Arse.
Carney can engage wittily with the audience without being distracted from his song.
‘G.S.T.’ makes light of all the things the politicians promised a goods and services tax would fix.
And, of course, along the way it mocks the whole world of the political promise with its exaggerations, distortions and deceptions.
‘Skasey’ remembers a high flier who did not want to return from Spain. It was something to do with the financial regulators apparently.
The health theme includes ‘Mr Hot Weather’, ‘In the Club’ and ‘Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You’, which might well be a tobacco industry anthem. ‘Bronchiodilator Blues’ is one for all the asthmatics and sinus sufferers out there.
Carney returns to the theme of bodily functions in ‘The Flatulence Calypso’ which he says celebrates the sheep of New Zealand. The good potential is for methane gas power plants. The problem is for ozone damage.
‘Cricket Lovers’ exploits the various and many cricketing terms in the language as a lovers’ not-very-secret metaphor.
The album includes a couple of instrumentals on the guitar, Scott Joplin’s ‘The Entertainer’ which needs no introduction and ‘Fingerpickin’ Good’, an original.
Carney gives great renditions of Jimmy Rogers’, ‘Mississippi River Blues’, Piron’s shimmying ‘Sister Kate’ and the traditional blues ‘Salty Dog’.
Another which is not a Carney composition is ‘The Bantam Cock’ by Jake Thackray, the late great Yorkshire singer songwriter.
‘Requests’ is close to the bone for a busker. ‘You might know 400 songs but they’ll never pick one’. Street musicians are sitting ducks.
There are minimal sleeve notes but there is no need to have a lyrics sheet because Carney’s diction is perfectly clear. The tunes are instantly familiar as Carney uses many well known blues riffs.
The notes mention Peter Harper (bass) and Scott Wise (harmonica) but some other instrumentalists and voices are mysterious.
Being a collection of tracks, some supporting musicians might have been mentioned on the earlier albums.
If you like great Australian wit delivered in a highly competent blues style you will enjoy Bernard Carney’s The Collection.