Blue Plate Special is guitarist Will Bernard’s follow up to his 2008 Grammy-nominated Party Hats and his second recording for Palmetto Records. This disc features John Medeski, of Medeski, Martin and Wood fame, Stanton Moore and Andy Hess. Bernard has been involved in a variety of musical groups including T.J. Kirk, whose recording If Four Was One was nominated for a 1997 Grammy. He has worked with drummer Stanton Moore before and was featured on the record Emphasis on Parenthesis. He has been touring with Moore’s Trio, Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, Groundation and various other bands. Bernard has appeared with his own band across the country and in Canada and has opened for Herbie Hancock, Jimmy McGriff, The Funky Meters, John Scofield, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Ziggy Modeliste and the Charlie Hunter Quartet.
Bernard composed most of the tunes on this disc. The title track was co-written by all four band mates. There isn’t a bad track on this record as the scope of musical styles is sure to appeal to just about everyone. The band presents a funky, engaging, infectious assortment of sounds here.
Of special note is "Magpie," hard-driving, funky and fast in which Bernard’s guitar skills really shine. The title track has a solid, rolling groove with piano and guitar accented throughout. "571" features bass and drum with screeching distortion for a trippy electronic sound. "Blister" has a spacey, airy sound with guitar and keys playing back and forth over soft, deep bass and crisp, fresh drums. "Gen Pop" has a haunting, emotional appeal as fluttering keys accent the sultry, crooning guitar and fades away at the end with receding waves of reverberation. "Frontwinder" offers up a bit of good old country-western flavor. The band does a great job with "Gonzo," with organ and guitar bringing another musical dimension into this mix. Closing off the disc is traditional with a twist in "How Great Thou Art," Medeski’s hymnal organ sounds opening up to Bernard’s guitar voicing the lyrics.
A great, fresh-sounding and fun disc, Bernard’s Blue Plate Special offers up both variety and creativity with an impeccable mix of musicians and delightful array of musical styles.