By Peter Douglas
Rare guitar talent Justin Bernasconi is returning to the hills to delight local music-lovers, with a special performance at the Skylark Room, Upwey, on Friday 9 June.
After last gracing the region at the Selby Folk Club early last year, Bernasconi will unveil new material from his latest album, ‘Barefoot Wonderland’, released on Friday 19 May.
The album is the follow-up to the critically acclaimed ‘Winter Pick’ from 2014.
The recent solo works have been a progression for Bernasconi since he first rose to prominence through his work with The Stillsons, with the band releasing three highly acclaimed albums.
Bernasconi told the ‘Mail’ just last year he felt there were some exciting solo projects ahead.
“The songwriting I was doing probably led me that way,” he said.
“Sometimes you don’t know where the song will lead you, sometimes you’re not in control; my songwriting led me to going solo.
“It has taken a while for the solo show to develop, to get used to not having a band around.”
His influences range across many genres, including folk, bluegrass, ragtime and blues.
But Bernasconi said it always came back to the guitar.
“Guitar is still the love of my life … I started about age 9, bugging my parents for a guitar,” he said.
He felt his technique had changed slightly since his work with The Stillsons.
“The past three years in particular, I feel like I’ve had more time to practice, to focus in different areas,” he said.
“My love of guitar has never changed, the more, the better – a new practice regime.”
The album opens with ‘Speed Camera’, which is the true story how Bernasconi’s partner was hit by a car while riding her pushbike.
She escaped with serious injury, but the event gave Bernasconi cause to contemplate, as their parents advise them both to get a ‘speed camera on your busy life’.
From then, his band performs on the next three tracks – ‘Zeeha’s Party Picnic’, a sonic image of his Parson’s Terrier wreaking havoc on innocent picnickers, ‘Puppy Blues’ and ‘Carrie Swoon’.
Bernasconi’s Skylark Room performance will include Cat Canteri, with tickets $10 on the door.
Doors open at 6pm, with the show to start at 8.30pm.