Bernie's story.... one of many!
For the past couple of years, Bernie has
been busy writing songs and stories for various future events. One of these
great events is the great port of Liverpool's City of Culture 2008 project.
Bernie has completed a book for it; entitled 'Mersey Moon'.
Actually, he has recently been filmed by a
couple of television crews as he performed the title song, 'Mersey Moon'. It's
hoped the number will figure prominently in Liverpool's wonderful 2008 City of
The banjo has a colourful, patchwork
history. Bernie has exploited some of this. He's written two books about it and
included some of his own involvement too. The first book is entitled 'Rocking
Banjo'. As Bernie says, "the banjo, although well connected historically with
the southern 'Dixie States' of America, it can actually be traced back to the
ancient times of Egypt". These two books, along with 'Mersey Moon', can be
bought at the Mersey Maritime Museum, an excellent northern entertainment
attraction. All you ex-pats in Australia, Africa and other various exotic
locations, take note!
It's fitting that the banjo books can be
obtained in Liverpool, as that great city port is famously connected, via the
old cotton trade, with America's 'Deep South'. And as the world now knows, the
cotton trade and the banjo were linked historically.
Talking of 'Stateside', Bernie has played
over there; 'way up north' in Pennsylvania, New York City and 'way down south in
Dixie', which included playing in New Orleans streets, bars and aboard the
paddle-steamers on the mighty Mississip'.
Incidentally, 'Way Down South' is the title
of one of the many original southern style songs which Bernie has written for
his CD output. These include 'Anyplace South', 'My heart's in Dixieland' and
'Dreaming New Orleans'. So far, he's composed around fifty of these original
They're available in song-book form (five
volumes), lyrics and music notation, under the title 'Dixie Delights'.
Bernie's musical tastes are eclectic. As he
explains in his banjo lecture, songs of the sea and Irish songs are part of his
repertoire. And those genres are well connected with the cotton trade and the
initial great economic history of northern England. Ultimately, British industry
surged forward on the world's stage because of the industrial connection; helped
along by a song or two, no doubt!
There is a direct connection from Savannah,
'Dixie's' cotton outlet port to Liverpool, England's premier cotton receiving
port! The umbilical cord of Manchester's Ship Canal, with Liverpool at one end
and Salford at the other, ensured trade goods travelled quickly to the
hinterland. And, as many Irish families came over to work on the building of the
canal, music and the banjo came with them!
Consequently, Bernie's 'Ship in a bottle'
and 'The Irish in me' CDs are certainly apt!
'Ship in a Bottle', which is a song about
Des Newton, Mersey Maritime's favourite 'bottler' is used to help promote Bottle
Ship Museum in Holland. Log on and look for Flessenschepjes Museum, Holland.