Barney Bentall *SOLD OUT*

  • Sat., Feb. 25, 2023 8:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.
  • The Dream Café

    67 Front Street
    Penticton, British Columbia V2A1H2
Ticket Price (CAD) $40.00 Buy Tickets
Description

Tell Barney Bentall that it’s been four-and-half years in between the release of his previous solo album, The Drifter & The Preacher, and the new Cosmic Dreamer, and he light-heartedly replies: “Maybe I should work harder.” 

The veteran singer, songwriter and musician was hardly slacking off during that interval, however. He: spent quality time with his family; tended to his British Columbia ranch; performed shows; made the RanchWriters album with longtime friend and Spirit of the West member Geoffrey Kelly, and started work on its follow-up; and wrote and recorded Cosmic Dreamer during a pandemic, which forced him to do things in largely unfamiliar ways. 

Tell Barney Bentall that it’s been four-and-half years in between the release of his previous solo album, The Drifter & The Preacher, and the new Cosmic Dreamer, and he light-heartedly replies: “Maybe I should work harder.” 

The veteran singer, songwriter and musician was hardly slacking off during that interval, however. He: spent quality time with his family; tended to his British Columbia ranch; performed shows; made the RanchWriters album with longtime friend and Spirit of the West member Geoffrey Kelly, and started work on its follow-up; and wrote and recorded Cosmic Dreamer during a pandemic, which forced him to do things in largely unfamiliar ways. 

COVID-19 caused Bentall to spend less time with other songwriters and musicians than he would have in the past, so Cosmic Dreamer has fewer co-writes than previous efforts.  

Bentall co-produced the album with multi-instrumentalist Adrian Dolan, and much of it was recorded and mixed at Dolan’s Track + Trestle studio in Ladysmith, B.C. The album-closing “Cody Road” was recorded by The Drifter & The Preacher producer John Raham at Vancouver’s Afterlife Studios.  

Bentall wrote Cosmic Dreamer’s title track at Yellowpoint Lodge on Vancouver Island in late February 2020 while he was taking a course at Ladysmith Marine Institute to receive a new certification to allow him to continue to drive rigid-hulled inflatable Zodiac boats on Arctic expeditions for a travel company called Adventure Canada.  

Bentall’s wife Kath had sent him an image and some text that struck a chord with him in ways he still can’t fully comprehend, and yet inspired him to put ideas together that quickly became “Cosmic Dreamer.” A visit to Dolan’s studio, which has a Steinway grand piano that features prominently on the album, followed shortly thereafter.  

“We made dinner, arranged the song, played it three times, and it was done,” says Bentall, who felt the song was a good way to both introduce the album and act as its title when it came time to think about such things.  

“It totally made sense and I didn't have to go through any great debate with the various sides of my brain, which is kind of complicated as it is.”  

“Cosmic Dreamer” is also the album’s first single. Its Cole Northey-directed video features Tarina Paquin, the daughter of Bentall’s manager, Gilles Paquin, dancing in nature as Bentall sings in front of a piano. Cole Northey is the son of Craig Northey, a member of Vancouver band Odds who’s been friends with Bentall since before his son was born.  

Bentall continued to write more songs after “Cosmic Dreamer” and decided he wanted to make a simpler and more stripped-down album when he felt he had the ones he wanted to record, though he’s pleased he hears a certain lushness when he listens to it now.   

While Bentall (guitars, harmonica and vocals) and Dolan (piano, keyboards, accordion, mandolin, mandola and fiddle) collaborated together in person to make the album, bassist/vocalist Kirby Barber and drummer Geoff Hicks recorded their parts remotely.   

Kendel Carson (fiddle), Matt Kelly (pedal steel), Dave Reimer, Ruth Moody (vocals), Dave Barber (acoustic guitar), Shanti Bremer (banjo), Eric Reed, Paul Pigat, Scott Smith (electric guitars), Sam Howard (upright bass), John Raham (percussion), Rob Becker (bass) and Daryl Havers (keyboards) also contributed remotely from British Columbia locations to individual songs, while Valentino Trapani added vocals to a track from his home in Siena, Italy.  

Bentall describes himself as a collaborative worker and he gave the other contributors freedom to do what they thought would work in each song. He asked for few changes once he heard what they’d done since he respected and admired their talent and agreed with their choices.  

“It was kind of easy to do,” Bentall says of having so much of Cosmic Dreamer recorded remotely without personal interaction.   

“I was surprised. I thought that would be a real impediment to making soulful music. I didn’t know if it would turn out flat but, for my ears, it was quite the opposite.”  

Cosmic Dreamer is by and large a slow and gentle album with an overarching element of melancholy running through it. Bentall didn’t intentionally set out with that in mind, but that’s how things came out and he thought the songs tied together well.  

“I follow my nose and go instinctually,” says Bentall. “I think if I worked from a place of intention, that would be when I would go to make a happy and fun record, which I think I may do sometime.”  

While Bentall wants to be hopeful about the state of the world, he admits that the pandemic and other current events have made that a challenge which has created a sense of melancholy in society.  

Whiskey Jack (Home)” is a pedal steel and fiddle-augmented song written from the perspective of a homeless person who’s seen better days and yearns to return to them. Bentall’s sister works on Vancouver’s Lower East Side, and she’s told him stories of the many people there struggling with homelessness and drug addiction. One of his side projects, The Cariboo Express, has performed fundraising concerts for an organization to help them.  

Bentall has worked with two people who experienced abusive upbringings and he wrote “Why Are You So Sad” with them in mind because his heart has gone out to them and he’s sometimes struggled with his inability to do more than lend an empathetic ear.  

Bentall’s oldest sister passed away unexpectedly a few years ago and he wrote the poignant and moving “Soul Sister” for her.  

Oh Foolish Me” was originally intended to be a bluegrass/country song, and while it includes some banjo, it fits comfortably with the rest of the album while telling a story of two people in a relationship who want different things from life.  

Not Standing Up To You,” another song that benefits from the inclusion of pedal steel and fiddle, is about the obstacles and hardships some people find while trying to be themselves and not finding an accepting audience.  

The sad “No Good Time To Go” is about the emotions Bentall felt when he had to put down a horse owned by a friend and fellow rancher with whom has a reciprocal agreement to do such things, since it can be too difficult to do to your own animal that you’ve built a relationship with.  

When Bentall started writing the song he also recalled a friend of one of his children who died in a car accident, and the difficulties that came with processing that, and those thoughts also went into “No Good Time To Go.”  

Bentall wrote “Potter’s Wheel,” which features harmonies from Moody, for his wife’s mother when she passed away.  

“I don't think we could have survived a life of music without her,” he says. “She was just so helpful with us in raising our kids, and she was an artist and a wonderful person.”  

Cody Road” ends the album on a bit more of an optimistic note, as it provides a vignette of making the most of the simple enjoyment derived from walking horses with a friend on a sunny day. 

Cosmic Dreamer also includes covers of Bob Dylan’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” and Gordon Lightfoot’s “Shadows.” Bentall had always loved the Dylan song and his voice bears some resemblance to that of its creator in it, though it’s nicely counterpointed by the vocal contribution from Trapani — who had previously performed the number with Bentall in Italy. Bentall had performed “Shadows” as part of a multi-artist tribute in Toronto that Lightfoot attended, and he says the song has always spoken to him in terms of what it’s like to be a travelling musician learning how to deal with life and love after coming off of the road.  

There are no major tour plans at this point in support of Cosmic Dreamer, and Bentall will wait and see what opportunities arise. He still looks forward to performing, however — whether it’s on his own or with other projects he’s involved with, including The High Bar Gang, Bentall Taylor Ulrich and The Cariboo Express

“The important thing to me is to keep doing it,” he says. “If you have long lapses, then there's rust.” 

Listening to the 11 songs on Cosmic Dreamer, there’s no rust in Bentall’s voice and his songwriting remains evocative and incisive. He may have just turned 65, but retirement isn’t yet in the cards for the man who first came to national attention fronting The Legendary Hearts in 1988.  

Bentall still has “something to live for,” to borrow the title of an early hit, and we look forward to whatever he decides to do next.  

www.barneybentall.com

Date & Time

Sat., Feb. 25, 2023 8:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.

Venue Details

The Dream Café

67 Front Street
Penticton, British Columbia V2A1H2 The Dream Café
The Dream Café

Doors and Kitchen Open at 6pm - unless otherwise stated

Shows start at 8pm. 

 


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