Flying Solo: Pete Bernhard
Pete Bernhard, singer and guitarist for "The Devil Makes Three," recently started a solo project. I had the opportunity to catch up with Bernhard to find out more about this truly gifted man.
Pete Bernhard grew up in Vermont where his father taught him his first songs and gave him his first guitar, a $50 Mexican nylon string guitar. "It was a guitar for someone who might not stick with guitar," said Bernhard, laughing.
He began growing as a musician in high school, when he played in a punk band called the Shakes, a band just about having a good time.
Bernhard eventually moved to Santa Cruz where he started playing with good friend and "The Devil Makes Three" band mate, Cooper McBean. Eventually Lucia Turino joined the band and the group was born.
Bernhard writes songs about his personal experiences, or of people he knows.
"Our music is very musically driven. That is why I think people who listen to hip-hop like our music as well; it's very similar in that way".
Bernhard grew up with the influence of Leo Kottke, Townes Van Zandt, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, Little Walter, and Howlin' Wolf. These influences are evident in his powerful, lyric-driven songs about drinking, being alone, and everything in-between.
Bernhard's decision to start a solo project was influenced by his need to keep busy. "I don't really know how to relax and it gives me a chance to try songs I have written that just wouldn't work with 'The Devil Makes Three,'" says Bernhard. "Most of my songs on my solo album are more rock, which surprises people sometimes because they expect it to be just like 'The Devil Makes Three.'"
Bernhard enjoys writing songs more than touring and recording. He starts with the music, and then writes lyrics from his stream of consciousness. He tweaks and edits until the song is just right.
I was invited to Bernhard's show at The Hotel Cafe Thursday night where he played all his songs from his solo album, "Straight Line," along with his own rendition of Townes Van Zandt's "Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold." Mixing blues, rock and roll, and folk is a sound Bernhard can clearly pull off. He achieves this with his fast finger picking, traditional country shuffle beats, strong lyrics, and smooth melodies.
Pete Bernhard has come a long way from when he was a boy from Vermont playing songs with his dad in his living room. He is now a successful musician who plays shows all over the world. Bernhard continues to push himself to be a better artist because no matter where he is, there is always someone in the audience singing and dancing along to his music. That allows him to keep singing the same song and never grow tired of performing.