Songs From The Road Bernard Allison
- 1Night Train 05:02
- 2Stay With Me Tonight 04:47
- 3You're Gonna Need Me 09:54
- 4I Can't Get You Out Of My Mind 04:54
- 5Call Me Momma 06:03
- 6Feels Kinda Funny 03:23
- 7Cruisin For A Bluesin06:00
- 8Same Ole Feeling 05:27
- 9Let's Try It Again09:56
- 10Meet Me Half Way 03:56
- 11Backdoor Man 05:02
- 12Something’s Wrong 05:55
- 13Slide Master 05:40
Info for Songs From The Road
The great Chicago bluesman Luther Allison lived by a simple philosophy that he was happy to share (“Leave your ego, play the music, love the people”). Now, twenty-three years after Luther’s passing, the great man would surely be thrilled to hear Bernard Allison’s Songs From The Road, and proud to find that his ferociously talented son is sworn to the same mission, bringing soul-soaked, all-guns-blazing blues to audiences who need it more than ever.
Released in January 2020 as a CD/DVD set on Ruf Records, Songs From The Road is a live snapshot so raw and real that hearing it feels like hanging off the security barrier of Dortmund’s Musiktheater Piano club when Bernard and his crack-squad band hit town last October 23rd. With an A-list crew on-hand – and a dynamic mix from industry legend Jim Gaines – this immersive recording catches every last flash of virtuosity, bead of sweat and drop of atmosphere. “I actually prefer live performances,” says Bernard, “because you can communicate and interact with the audience. I basically feed off of that energy, combined with my group’s talent and personalities.”
Since he embarked on his acclaimed solo career with 1990’s The Next Generation, Bernard’s studio catalogue has been heavy with highlights, and that night in Germany, every fan in the house got something off their wish-list. This prolific songwriter reminded us that his recent output is his strongest to date, with cuts from last year’s acclaimed Let It Go album including Night Train, Cruisin For A Bluesin, Same Ole Feeling, Backdoor Man and the wound-licking slow-blues of You’re Gonna Need Me. “We showed more mature songwriting with that album,” he nods.
But Bernard is happy to embrace his past glories, too, on a setlist that digs up his studio catalogue for diamonds. From 1998’s Times Are Changing album, there’s The Way Love Was Meant To Be and the funky strut of I Can’t Get You Out Of My Head. From 2000’s Across The Water, there’s Meet Me Half Way and the powerhouse, fingertwist blues-rock of Feels Kinda Funny. After stopping off for the grooving title track from 2002’s Storms Of Life, Bernard pulls out Stay With Me Tonight from 2005’s Higher Power, and mines 2015’s In The Mix for fan-favourites Call Me Momma and Something’s Wrong.
Oldest of all – and a treat for long-standing fans – is Let’s Try It Again. Borrowed from his father’s classic 1984 album, Life Is A Bitch, it’s a moment that brings Allison Jr’s story full circle, reminding us of his own formative years, when he jammed with Luther as a kid, broke out in the band of Koko Taylor and frequently cut heads onstage with close friend Stevie Ray Vaughan.
You might know the songs – but you don’t know these interpretations. With Bernard leading the lineup on vocals and searing lead guitar, backed by Dylan Salfer (guitar), George Moye (bass), Mario Dawson (drums) and José James (sax/percussion), this is a live band whose chemistry lets them stretch out and shake up these classic songs. “Fans that know our choice of songs will notice the change in arrangements that highlight my current band members,” says Bernard. “As opposed to hearing the studio versions, which normally feature my vocals and guitar. We’re the Bernard Allison Group and we show our unity night after night across the world. It’s ‘the Allison way’…”
On Songs From The Road, the result is a glorious exchange of energy between band and crowd – and evidence that Luther’s old philosophy is burning brighter than ever. “Our shows aren’t like going to the movies and staring at the big screen,” Bernard considers. “We’re there for the people to enjoy each other’s stories for the evening.”
Bernard Allison, guitar, vocals
Dylan Salfer, guitar
George Moye, bass
Mario Dawson, drums
Jose James, saxophone, percussion
was introduced to the roots of black music and playing electric guitar by his father, the blues legend Luther Allison.
He joined the tourband of Luther Allison in 1989 after a furious collaboration of 'Father & Son' at the '89 Chicago Blues Festival. Bernard released his first solo album in 1990 and the title was program: 'The Next Generation'. He started touring with his own group all over Europe and released several albums, taking the tradition of black music he grew up with into the new century melting the influences into his own brand - Bernard Allison.
"It's just a big pleasure for me to continue my father's legacy, but you know I don't go out and try to be Luther Allison. I just go and do what I've learned from my Dad and the likes of Koko Taylor, or Stevie Ray Vaughan or Albert King. So, I'm trying to keep the blues alive Bernard Allison style." (Bernard Allison)
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 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.
In 2004/2005, Bernard Allison released his 6th album on Ruf Records, "Higher Power". Whether you pay your respects to Bernard Allison as one of the high powered blues guitarists in the world or you, like Bernard, pay your respects to that Higher Power that guides you through life, these are 13 songs Bernard sings that will speak to you.
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.
"In order for anything to expand, you have to take a risk," says Bernard. "Blues is about experimenting and getting your feelings across to someone else. And if you want to keep it going, people are going to have to give it all a chance because we're losing all our creators. Because I've been taking risks on every album I've recorded, this record is just a logical progression from everything else I've done. Instead of playing rippin' 12 bar blues guitar over and over, there are bluesy songs, soul, funk, R&B songs and a couple of rock things which shows the overall musicianship of Bernard Allison."
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. After decades of chasing the muse, Bernard is now settled down raising a family without the old personal vices. Thus the music he's written speaks of the inner peace and companionship every human searches for. The CD opens with Bernard's trademark blues rock guitar, but it rocks out with a moral. Therapists recommend getting problems out, instead of concealing them. In the highly personal opening song "I've Learned My Lesson," Bernard sheds himself of any disguises and admits to the world the inner personal problems that have held him back. That is until his personal Higher Power delivered him safely to inner peace.
Other original songs like "Stay With Me Tonight" or "Next To You" speak intimately about his love of the security of his family. While in other songs like "New Life," Bernard goes even further by apologizing to those he's hurt by word or deed.
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. "Musically and lyrically this is definitely a mature effort. I've been through a lot since the passing of my father. I'm married and I have started my own family. This music comes from everyday responsibility and lifestyle. I'm calling the album Higher Power because there were times when I had to pray to my own higher power to help me through. Immediately after my father's death I was still touring, I wanted to continue because that was what he wanted me to do. I feel that with his presence, he's still, even today, with me everywhere I go, and the help of my higher power, there's no going wrong. That is the message in many of these songs."
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."