With his own new solo project on the way this spring, Michigan music ambassador Seth Bernard today reveals the three albums that most influenced his career, along with a current favorite.
EDITOR’S NOTE: All musicians can trace their inspiration to a few key recordings that captivated them and influenced their own music. Today, Local Spins writer Ross Boissoneau showcases the albums that changed the world for Earthwork Music founder and musician Seth Bernard. Scroll down to listen to the tracks on Spotify, plus a song from Bernard.
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1. Stevie Wonder, “Songs in the Key of Life” (1976)– This is an early inspiration from when I first got a turntable. The heart and sound, the musicianship was world class. The high level of musicianship … wasn’t about showing off. It moved me in a way as a young person, it moved me to be a better person. When I became a dad, I played it on repeat. I saw Stevie at the Palace of Auburn Hills, and my friend Brad Phillips has played strings with Stevie. It’s about love, family and from the heart.
Listen: “Sir Duke”
2. Tom Petty, “Wildflowers” (1994) – In a similar zone. I’ll never forget helping my dad build a deck as a 16-year-old. I listened to that over and over. My parents would take us to music festivals. I learned a bunch of those songs as a teenager, learned arranging. That’s been with me. I also find Tom Petty’s music is a great place for connections.
Listen/Watch: “It’s Good to be King”
3. Steppin’ In It, “Last Winter in the Copper Country” (2002) – I’d released my second album. They were a wonderful influence on the scene. I fell in love with it (the album). They were my friends and a band tearing up the circuit. It was very encouraging. It’s a collection of songs from the American folk tradition. Josh’s singing (singer and guitarist Joshua Davis), the Wilson brothers playing at a high level, Dominic on bass (Dominic John Davis) holding it all together as members of the Michigan music scene.
Listen: “Dustbowl Overtures”
Currently Loving: The Mammals, “Nonet” – I have been loving it. They’re good friends from Woodstock, musically and culturally, (known for) social and environmental activism. They have been making fantastic music for decades. Mike and Ruthie (band leaders Ruth Ungar and Mike Merenda) did some remote overdubs for my new record.
Listen: “If You Could Hear Me Now”
Bonus Selection: Samantha Cooper is recording her first album. She’s contributed to a lot of performers as a backing vocalist and violinist. She lives in Kalamazoo and writes songs no one else does and is a fantastic musician. I’m so excited for more people to hear her fantastic music.
Check out previous editions of “Three Albums that Changed My World”
THE PLAYLIST ON SPOTIFY: Seth Bernard
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