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Music for the Inside of Your Body...♪♪♪

Bernie Larsen

BernieLarsenBass, Acoustic & Electric Guitar

Venues
The Gypsy Den

Recording
CD: Music for the Inside of Your Body
Akadak Sessions
Bernie Larsen Sessions (Producer)



 

Like a lot of young boys in the 60s, Bernie Larsen was profoundly affected by a single television tipping point--the appearance of the Beatles playing live on the Ed Sullivan show, and soon he had a guitar in hand and was singing through a toilet paper roll.

Young Bernie went on to take a couple of guitar lessons, but wanted to learn his ten favorite songs, "and then have them unleash the screaming girls. On I go to fame and fortune."

His Uncle Frank was a big band guitarist and helped him learn chord changes. Soon, he was playing guitar for the Timid Nights, moving up from school assembly performances to bar mitzvahs, USO shows, and Teen Night at Mr. Banjo's Pizza.

Eventually, he won the Senior Talent Show with harmonica legend Howard Sobel, playing Elmore James-style blues. Then after high school, he started learning Duane Allman and Clapton riffs--"Layla" was a big influence. Bernie aspired to the gunslinger role, with long, powerful solos a` la Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.

He floundered a bit as real life intervened. "I hated my mechanic job," he says.

Soon, he got a job playing top 40 songs with a band five nights a week. "It became unsatisfying without the creation of our own music," explains Bernie. Then came a pretty cool job at Nadine's Music, a vintage guitar shop in Hollywood. Over time, Bernie met "a lot of people" at the store, including Dan Carlson.

Another one of those people was David Lindley, who shared Bernie's love for Silvertone guitars. The chance meeting led to an opportunity to play with David's original El Rayo-X lineup as guitarist and keyboardist. Bernie toured all over the world from '81 to '86 with El Rayo-X. It wasn't Beatlemania, but Bernie was working as a professional musician.

By '87, he grew restless and wanted out to pursue his own band, Cry on Cue. "Sometimes you gotta crawl out on a branch with a chainsaw in your hand," Lindley told him. Bernie's song "Never Knew Her" was the single on Lindley's "Very Greasy" record, and validated him as a songwriter.

He played with Melissa Etheridge from '89 to '93 and earned his first Grammy nomination. The call for his own music returned again, and he left that band and resumed recording and performing with Cry On Cue.
 
This was followed by an escape to Upper Michigan. He enjoyed opening a music venue in a small town there, where "the scene exploded" and Bernie branched out from corporate music to independent music and art, which included hand made furniture and lo-fi film and music video.

The weather, however, "was brutal" and eventually he returned to L.A. where he built a studio for his now decade-old label Spinout Records. He played lead guitar on the road for a brief stint with Lucinda Williams, produced a mountain of records, and returned to Michigan to re-open the venue and be near his father.

Since his return to Los Angeles in 2005, he continued to produce more indie records, as well as Rickie Lee Jones's critically acclaimed "Sermon On Exposition Boulevard"; assembled a Cry on Cue record with reggae legend Karl Pitterson, who recorded and mixed Bob Marley's "Exodus"; and began work on a documentary film, entitled "Walk the Plank", about "doing it for creative reasons."

Bernie reconnected with Dan Carlson some years after his Nadine's gig through Randy Ray Mitchell, and says "He is a really good songwriter, with eccentric, sophisticated harmony and rhythms." Bernie played guitar and bass on a lovely version of "In My Room", which will be included on an upcoming Waldo Bliss record. Dan also remembers one of his favorite Waldo Bliss shows at The Gypsy Den in Santa Ana where Bernie played an inspiring electric guitar one night when Randy Ray couldn't make the gig.

Bernie continues songwriting, touring, producing records, and working on his upcoming documentary "Walk the Plank". He's living the good life in Ojai.


Check out Bernie Larsen performing "At Least" at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis in 2012.

To find out more about Bernie, please visit  www.bernielarsen.com.