Barney Bentall and the Legendary Hearts are in town Thursday June 6 at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre.

Barney Bentall and the Legendary Hearts are in town Thursday June 6 at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre.

Still something vital to live for

Barney Bentall and the Legendary Hearts play the Cultural Centre June 6 in Chilliwack

Singer-songwriter Barney Bentall is coming to the Cultural Centre to throw on a guitar and play some rock and roll.

And he has a historical connection to Chilliwack, which may have smoothed the way for some of his success. But more on that later.

Bentall just came off the road from the prairies, performed with Jim Cuddy in Italy, and a recent gig in Harrison with one of his favourites, Shari Ulrich.

“It was great,” he tells the Progress.

“I consider myself a farmer right now that likes to throw on a guitar and play some rock and roll.”

That’s what he does now when he’s not at his ranch in the Cariboo growing hay and keeping some horses.

“It’s pretty manageable now.”

At its peak, the ranch had 250 cattle. He’s been back and forth between the ranch and the road for years.

He likes farming, cycling and rebuilding the old log homestead, as well being outdoors.

“I could never record in the summertime. I enjoy being outdoors. I like to burrow into the dark of the studio in winter.”

Born Barnard Franklin Bentall in Toronto, Barney started writing and performing music in 1978.

He’ll be in Chilliwack next week with his original Legendary Hearts bandmates, including keyboard player Cam Bowman, who left the band to become a plastic surgeon, Colin Nairne and bassist Barry Muir.

“It’s always great when we play together. This is most important band for me in terms of what I do.

“I grew up with three sisters. These guys are my brothers. We’ve been through a lot.”

The debut album, Barney Bentall and the Legendary Hearts in 1988, produced by David Tickle, turned out to be life-changing.

When music mogul, Tickle, drove all the way out from Vancouver to see the band for the first time, it was at Earthquake Annie’s on Yale Road in Chilliwack.

It was the only place that Bentall could get a gig on really short notice, and he distinctly remembers it.

The self-titled debut ended up catapulting them into the platinum stratosphere of Canadian records.

“We went from being a Vancouver bar band to having a big hit. Everything changes. You have to survive becoming well know suddenly. There is no manual for it.”

The album had three hit songs, Something to Live For, House of Love (is Haunted) and Come Back to Me.

“It was wild times when we released these songs,” he remembered.

The hits continued with Crime Against Love, Life Could Be Worse,  Doin’ Fine, and “Shattered”.

The group was nominated for a Genie Award for Restless Dreamer (1990), which appeared on the soundtrack to the Sandy Wilson film American Boyfriends.

After years of recording and touring with the Hearts, Bentall withdrew from the limelight and started a cattle ranch at the close of the 1990s.

But it doesn’t feel nostalgic at all to be playing with the Hearts again.

“It would feel that way if I wasn’t continuing to write new songs all the time.

“We’ll play a few of the new songs and all the old hits.

“It still feels vital to me. If it was only about playing the hits, I don’t know if I could do it.”

The proof is in the pudding. Bentall released his first solo album Gift Horse on True North Records on in 2006.  A couple of years later, he released a DVD of his live act The Grand Cariboo Opry show, which included a 12-track audio CD.

In 2009, Bentall joined Shari Ulrich and Tom Taylor to release the album Live at Cates Hill, and last year he released Flesh and Bone on True North as well.

“Music has changed since 20, or 25 years ago. Everyone knew my name. But now you ask a 20 year-old and they’re not really sure,” he says. “That’s okay. You just have to figure out a way to keep your heart and soul intact.”

BARNEY BENTALL & THE LEGENDARY HEARTS Thursday June 6 at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre in Chilliwack

Tickets are $37.50 (Plus Facility Fee & Service Charges)

Available at Centre Box Office. Charge by phone 604-391-SHOW (7469)

Or online at www.chilliwackculturalcentre.ca. More at www.barneybentall.com.