Bern & The Brights at Northern Soul

A night of musical revelations. A prog-rock country garage gumbo that’ll move you and kick your ass at the same time

A night of stand-out musical revelations

June 17, 2010: I’ve been a fan of Bernadette Malavarca’s music for quite a while now. Her haunting voice and lyrical ease combined with an at times delicate, at times powerful guitar style has always brought chills. For the most part, I had only seen Bern perform with her acoustic guitar. Tonight I got a chance to check out some unique dimensions to the music of Bern & The Brights.

There were a few stand-out revelations for me. First, hearing Catherine McGowan sing. Hers is a powerful voice that I just never expected. I’d seen her play before, but never sing upfront like that. And the moments her voice combined with Bern’s were magic. The two differed just enough to compliment each other perfectly.

Then there’s the violin of Nicole Scorsone. When bowed, it added a kind of flowing undertone that moved thru the songs with ease. When plucked, it bounced along with and off of the guitars playfully.

Filling out the lineup was the tight rhythm section of Shawn Fafara on bass and Jose Ulloa on percussion. Jose played a cajon, which is becoming a favorite among drummers for these smaller venues. The trick is to not just smack it like a hollow box. There are certain regions to a cajon that, if in the right hands (like tonight) can sound as full as a drum kit.

The sound of Bern & The Brights is a prog-rock country garage gumbo that can move you with remarkably gentle moments and kick your ass with sudden sticatto outbursts. What’s in between can make you cry, smile, tap your foot (sometimes all at the same time).

I can’t wait to see them in a full-on electric setup. Luckily, they’ll be doing just that at their CD Release Party at Maxwell’s in Hoboken on July 17, 2010. Check out for details.

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Bern & The Brights

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