Houston Bernard is bringing his solo acoustic show to Rivershed in Killington, for the first time. He’ll be playing this Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday brunch at noon.
I saw Bernard perform back in September, in a private show that was part of a singer/songwriter festival. He sang a song about his dad called, “In My Blood.” It was touching. It stood out for me; I really liked it.
Bernard said, “It’s a heavy, personal song.”
Bernard described his show, saying, “I’ll be playing a lot of original music. There’s a good variety of up tempo, some ballads but mostly original work. I’ll probably throw in some covers that I enjoy. If people want to hear covers and throw me a nice tip, I could be easily convinced to play ‘Wagon Wheel’ if they really want me to. I’m going there to have a good time, meet some new people and share my music. I’m there to entertain, so I’m pretty flexible.”
Artists Houston Bernard likes to cover include: Dwight Yoakam, Willie Nelson and Brothers Osbourne. He said, “I lean towards classic covers but I don’t mind throwing in some modern ones as well.”
He didn’t grow up listening to country music, he was more of ‘a rock guy.’ He added, “There’s so many artists I’ve been affected by over the years. I grew up listening to Bruce Springsteen and artists like that are forever changing and forever improving. Some burn out like Billy Joel who just stopped creating but Bruce keeps creating and he’s creating good stuff. What I learned from reading his book and watching him is there’s a good way to go about things. He talks in his book about longevity, focus and discipline.”
Bernard said he felt like Springsteen was more of a mentor than an influence.
During Covid, Bernard used his time wisely. “I just went haywire with songwriting,” he said. “Now I’ve got a good system with my writing process. I’ve been churning out some tunes and I’m recording my fifth album. It’s definitely going to be my strongest by far and most personal.”
They’ve all been personal but for this one he dug a little deeper.
Bernard waits until he’s inspired to then write a song, explaining, “I like to write with other writers because I feel like the give and take is really nice. When I get an idea, I’m really passionate about, I’ll reach out to a friend who I like to write with. We usually have it completed in three hours.”
He’ll have merchandise for sale this weekend so you could pick up one of his past albums. His latest album will be out in a few months, but he has two singles, “Ever Gonna Be,” which peaked at No. 48 on Texas Country Radio and has been on the charts for 30 weeks, which was “amazing,” Bernard said.
He’s excited that two of his singles made the 2022 Top 200 in Texas. His newest one ,“Ditch This Town” will be out next month. You can find those on Spotify, Apple Music, etc. His website is HoustonBernard.com and most of his socials are under Houston Bernard Music.
His mother gave him his first guitar when he was 7 and he’s been playing professionally since he was 12. Houston grew up in Oklahoma. His father, a bass player and a singer, met his mother while touring. His dad is from Oklahoma and his mom from Massachusetts.
Before his uncle died, Reba McEntire had recorded one of his songs. His dad rejoined the army, and they ended up in Alaska. When his parents split up, he ended up in Massachusetts where he currently resides.
He said, “I didn’t really know my father. I didn’t meet him again until I was 19. I always had a drive towards music so when I found out he played music, I knew this is what I was supposed to do. I spent my teen years in Worcester and country music wasn’t really popular but everyone told me I should be playing country music because my name is Houston. People think Houston Bernard is my stage name but it’s a family name. I was named after my uncle who d on a farm when he was 2 years old.”
At first he thought country music was sad and boring. He didn’t want to play it. In 2012, after touring Europe and the states, he thought he was done playing music. Then he decided he would try country.
“I couldn’t stand country music so maybe I’ll try outlaw country, so I started an outlaw country band,” he said. “By 2013 I was writing and released my first album. My booking agent said he could get me more gigs if I played modern country so I started doing that and figured I could stomach these songs. Then the second album, third album, opening up for national acts and more traveling. I was just trying to improve everything. Now it’s 11 years later and I still have the fire and I’m happy I do. I’m still getting booked. It’s a struggle because the money is not always there but the pride is, and the fulfillment is.”
A couple of months ago, he opened for The Outlaws.
Bernard mostly plays with a band. They’ve been playing some ticketed shows and just did one at The Press Room in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which holds 150 people, and they sold 100 tickets.
He said, “We were pleasantly surprised.”
He’s looking forward to these solo shows at the Rivershed because he said the more solo shows he does, the better. He said these shows will “Really encompass what I’m trying to do as an artist.”
Houston loves the connections he makes with people while playing live. He said, “It’s really a mixture of things depending on the vibe of the room and what we’re doing there. Whether it be getting people dancing and having a good time or telling my stories and basically having a therapy session. I just have a drive to want to connect with people and entertain them.”
People have told him that his songs have helped them get through a tough time and that matters to him a lot.