A legend in his own right, Vancouver-based Barney Bentall has been creating music since 1978. Throughout his career, he has released three independent albums and seven studio albums. In the late eighties, Barney Bentall formed The Legendary Hearts. Their self-titled debut reached Platinum status in Canada, featured three hit singles, and garnered a Juno Award.
In 2000, Bentall switched gears completely and moved to British Columbia’s Cariboo region to operate a cattle ranch. With this incredible shift came a great change in perspective, which was the impetus for his 2007 solo release, Gift Horse. “Although I spent a lot of time working on the ranch, I never fully removed myself from music”, says Bentall. “I still played, but it might have been the lack of applause that brought me back,” he laughs. “We all have different paths. My time on the ranch was what I needed. It kept me grounded and made me stronger. It also made me appreciate music that much more. It solidified my journey as a singer, songwriter and musician.”
In 2008, Bentall released his seventh studio album titled The Inside Passage. Recorded and produced by John Ellis (Ridley Bent, The Be Good Tanyas, and Dustin Bentall), The Inside Passage is a collection of songs loosely based on moving through life. “A greatest hits of the right and the wrong turns,” says Bentall.
Barney Bentall continues to move through life with his wife Kath, an ever-increasing tribe of in-laws and grandchildren, and a new studio album titled Flesh & Bone, which is set for release on November 13, 2012.
Recorded at The Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, BC, Flesh & Bone is a collection of elevens songs produced by Bentall himself. Influenced by an array of genres from folk to roots, blues-rock to pop, and even a hint of celtic, the album reflects Canada from coast to coast. Flesh & Bone is haunting yet beautiful with vocals that are pure, truthful and full of emotion. Bentall’s lyrics and melodies marry well together, woven with a storytelling quality that transcends generations.
“The songs are both current and historical,” says Bentall. “It was where I wanted to go after The Inside Passage - another chapter of the book, so to speak. The album title comes from my time and experience at the ranch. Vibrant flesh falls away and an older world is left with the bones. Life keeps rolling over. It’s the way she goes.”
In addition to the theme of renewal, Flesh & Bone represents a full circle journey for Barney Bentall.
“When I started my career, we had no industry experience. We did everything ourselves – often poorly. Then came the record label and the record label dollars. For Flesh & Bone, we just went into the studio free of judgement and recorded songs the way we used to, but with a few more years under our belts, a different perspective and hopefully a little more wisdom,” says Bentall with a laugh.
Barney Bentall has also established a sense of community within the music industry through The Grand Cariboo Opry, a one of a kind event that harkens back to a simpler time. Consisting of two generations of some of Canada’s finest roots and country musicians, The Grand Cariboo Opry is about laughter, storytelling, and the timeless sound of contemporary songwriters steeped in tradition. Regular guests include Ridley Bent, Leeroy Stagger, Barney’s son Dustin Bentall, Kendel Carson, Matt Masters, Wendy Bird, Steve Dawson, and The High Bar Gang to name a few.
Barney Bentall & The Grand Cariboo Opry give back to the local Vancouver community with their yearly fundraiser and one of a kind variety show, which brings hundreds of people together to support Potluck Café Society – a social enterprise that works to transform lives in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Over the past six years, the proceeds of Barney Bentall & The Grand Cariboo Opry have helped create jobs and serve over 40,000 meals to people living in the Downtown Eastside.
With the release of Flesh & Bone on November 13, Barney Bentall is set to continue his journey and share his stories with audiences coast to coast.