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.
“WEST” Bernard Carney
1. Barbed Wire Round the Harbour 2. Eyes of the Engineer 3. Jimmy Woods the Cowboy of the Air 4. Monsoonal Sailors 5. The Coming of the Dutch 6. Suitcase of Stars 7. Devils’ Island 8. Spindrift and Foam 9. Midland Railway Workshops 10. Hard Time Home 11. The Roll of the Gold 12. Stories of the Island 13. Pedalling Home
Barbed Wire Round the Harbour won the Port Fairy Song Writing Contest in 2003 Devil’s Island won the Declan Affley Songwriting Award at the National Folk Festival in 1993
REVIEW by Russell Hannah
Bernard Carney’s latest CD ‘West’ is a paean of praise to his adopted home of Western Australia. It is not just about the landscape, but like most good folk albums it is about people. Their interaction with the land they have made, and call home, pervades almost all the songs on the recording. This is Bernard Carney at his best, his subject matter is carefully selected, his songs beautifully crafted and his performance commanding. The little known importance of Fremantle as a naval and submarine base in WW 2is dramatically sketched in the tragic, ‘Barbed Wire Round the Harbour’, possibly the best song on the album. It is one of four that tell of the West’s relationship with the sea. (The Coming of the Dutch, Monsoonal sailors, and Spindrift and Foam) The West’s characters also feature, with pioneer aviator, Jimmy Woods getting a guernsey with a fine song ‘Cowboys of the Air’ and of course no WA anthology would be complete without a song about Charles Yelverton O’Connor, the pipeline engineer, and his dramatic story. ‘Hard Times Home’ pays tribute to Caroline Thomson, and those pioneering women like her. She came to WA with her eleven children and scratched out a living on Rottnest Island during her short and hard life. This leads to a song about one of the most disgraceful episodes in Australia’s History when Rottnest was used to imprison the States Aborigines for breaking ‘White Mans’ Law”, mostly in the North West. The result was as predictable as it was tragic and ‘Devils Island’ juxtaposes the modern day tourist Mecca with its murky past. In case you think its all doom and gloom Bernard has used Rottnest to provide a bit of light hearted nostalgia with the rollicking ‘Pedalling Home’, Stories of the Island’, and ‘Suitcase of Stars’, all songs that lend themselves to a ‘damn good sing-a-long,. I don’t know of any other songwriter who has written a song about a mint. Given WA’s development has been intrinsically linked with the production of gold and the Perth Mint has been subject to its share of intrigue and scandal over the years, it’s not perhaps surprising that Bernard has chosen this topic. The ‘Piece de resistance’ for Railway lovers (and I count myself as one) is the ‘Midland Railway Workshops’, a lively song dedicated to the people who kept the West’s Railways on the tracks. All up this is a very good recording which is what we’ve come to expect over the years from the award winning Bernard Carney. It is firmly grounded in the folk tradition, the melodies are well crafted and it tells its stories and gets its messages across with subtlety and cleverness. Though often dealing with tragedy it is not at all gloom and doom and the resilience of the human spirit emerges from its lyrics and tunes. I could not find a bad song on it, which is rare for an album of original works. Add it to your collection.
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