Thursday, May 24, 2012


The Late Night Groove Series has been going for over a decade now, featuring illustrious artists such as DJ Logic, Ledisi, Maya Azucena and many more. This Saturday, May 26th, features guitarist Will Bernard.  We had a chance to catch up with Will:

BLUE NOTE:  What's in store for us Saturday when you play the Blue Note?  Mostly tunes from your new release Outdoor Living?

WILL BERNARD:  I am bringing Tony Mason on drums, Ben Stivers on Piano and organ and Jeff Hanley on Bass.  We will be playing songs from a few of my albums but mostly the new one, Outdoor Living.  I am excited to play with this line up. It's the first time playing with this combination of folks. I have played with all of them many times in other situations. The great thing about these musicians is that you can go in practically any musical direction.

BN:  How were your recent gigs in NOLA?  You bringing some of the NOLA vibe back up north with you?

WB:  I always bring some of that Nola vibe with me.  It has become part of my way of thinking over the years.  I had a great time at Jazz fest in New Orleans this year.  I played every night at one place or another for a week and a half and really had a blast.  I have regular gigs I do every year there: Stanton Moore, Dr Lonnie Smith, Robert Walter and this time I got to do a gig with the great Kirk Joseph the Sousaphone player from Dirty Dozen Brass band.

BN:  Be honest.  Which is better - Berkeley or Brooklyn?

WB:  I love it in New York and I plan to stay here. The SF Bay Area is where I have spent most of my life and I still really love it. It's very manageable in a lot of ways. It's definitely a much slower pace though that's for sure. I think that's part of why I like it though...same with New Orleans.

BN:  What's up next for you?

WB:  Well I am mainly just in town for a while.  I am freelancing here in NY and playing gigs all the time all over the place.  I am constantly trying to evolve and keep expanding what I get into.  Although people mostly know me from playing the funk I have a lot of other sides that I need to cultivate more.  I will be going to Europe in the fall with my trio that is on the new record: Wil Blades and Simon Lott.  Wil is a really great B3 player from the Bay Area that is coming up quick. He is also touring with Billy Martin from MMW these days. Simon is a one of a kind drummer from Nola.

BN:  Last, but not least, how'd you get SO FUNKY?

WB:  That's a good one...well I got bitten by the funk, soul, R & B bug a very long time ago and I can't seem to get rid of it.  I grew up with that Bay Area thing...Tower of Power, Sly, etc.  I've had the good fortune to play gigs with guys from the Meters, the James Brown band, Booker T, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Idris Mohammad, Charlie Hunter, Stanton Moore etc. That has been a great help as well. You learn a lot from playing with great musicians.