Bernard Allison Group (USA)
Bernard Allison: guitar & vocals
Tom Hunter: keyboard
Vic Jackson: bass
Erick Ballard: drums
Michael Goldschmidt: guitar
Jose James: sax, percussion, vocals
Born in Chicago on November 26th, 1965, the youngest of nine children Bernard Allison was first introduced to the roots of black music and the art of the electric guitar by his father, the late great Luther Allison. Bernard made his first appearance on record at age 13, when he played on a live LP his father recorded in Peoria, IL.
"I didn't start to play 'til I was maybe 10 years of age" Bernard recalled "I picked up the guitar, listened to records. I was in grade school and I played with the high school jazz band. They thought I was reading the sheet music, but actually I was making up everything I could play."
Soon after graduating from High School, he began a three-year guitar apprenticeship in Koko Taylor's high-flying Blues Machine. He also played in the late Willie Dixon's Blues All-Stars and performed with his Dad at the 1983 Blues Festival - one of the event's highlights. Along the way, Bernard picked up slide guitar tips from Johnny Winter and in the 80's also learned from the late Stevie Ray Vaughan.
With those experiences under his belt, Bernard moved to Paris in 1989 to live and play the blues with his father. He joined the tourband of Luther Allison after a furious collaboration of "Father & Son" at the '89 Chicago Blues Festival. A recording of this formation is to be heard on the Luther Allison album "Let's Try It again" (RUF Records). Bernard released his first solo album in 1990 with the significant title "The Next Generation". In 1999, two years after Luther passed away, Bernard decided to move back to the States to go back to his roots and push his career in his native country.
Bernard totes the same smokin’ six string shooter that his late father Luther Allison assaulted the blues with. And he is blessed with his father’s soulful voice, spiritual devotion, and a musical freedom which experiments with the blues.
Bernard seems to have inherited Luther's knack for igniting audiences, but he's no clone of his famous father. He is definitely blazing his own path with a style that reflects a unique mix of traditional and modern influences. The Allison torch has been passed, and it's clear that Bernard takes his role as its bearer very seriously. He's assumed the challenge of keeping the blues alive and growing - a commitment he renews every time he takes the stage.
The major risk Bernard takes here is in his song writing, where he is confident enough to strip away the layers and bare himself to the world. It has taken Bernard a long time to feel free to talk or write a song about what’s going on within him or his personal tragedies.
And that’s the magic power of the blues. If Bernard’s honesty touches just one person with a similar struggles then the power of the blues works. Then Bernard becomes the higher power by healing another troubled soul.
Amid all the daily pop culture pressures to be the next American Idol why does Bernard stay rooted in the blues? “The blues is my roots. Regardless of how far outside of the blues I reach for tones, I can’t ever leave the blues. Whenever I play, all those guitar parts are Luther Allison coming through me. My dad was the same way, he wasn’t all blues. He loved Otis Redding or Chuck Berry. I’m just showing where my influences come from. And respecting the people who got me to this point.
With the new year of 2011 Allison released a brandnew Live DVD and CD of his Gig at the Jazzhaus Freiburg. The audience was amazed and left the club with euphoric moods after the powerful stage performance of Allison and his Band, which was joined by Michael Goldschmidt (second guitar) and Jose James (sax, percussion, vocals) in 2007.