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Barney Bentall's lessons learned

The Can-rock legend plays Millennium Place Oct. 6 with the Whistler Arts Council's Performance Series



Barney Bentall might have given us something to live for in the 80s, but now, he wants us to dig a little deeper.

The Canadian pop-rock veteran said his forthcoming album, Flesh and Bone, slated for release Nov. 13 via True North Records, is about the idea that "life is vibrant and then it dies. Situations end and we're left with the bones."

It might seem like a morose theme, but Bentall doesn't mean it that way.

In fact, the sunny, upbeat singer sounded incapable of doom and gloom as he paused from tending the animals on his ranch in the Cariboo to talk.

"I'm getting out of work," he laughed, farm animals vying for attention in the backtround. "It's super convenient."

After three decades, several awards, and a pile of albums to his name, Bentall, who plays Millenium Place on Oct. 6 as part of a performance series, reflected on some of the lessons he's learned in the music industry.

Never leave your wallet in the dressing room

"I remember watching Al Green run on stage when I got to see him perform and there was this big, burly organ player — he was almost like an organ player and bodyguard — and he just ran and he threw down this case. You knew it had his valuables. You went, 'Ok, that guy's been around the block.' You just learn. Especially where we used to play, when you play at clubs you just have to be careful in that way."

Make sure your bass player knows the chord changes

"When Dustin (Bentall's son) started to play, I didn't want to be any kind of stage mom or manager. I thought it was really important for him to find his own voice, find what he wanted to do and how he wanted to sound, so I didn't give a lot of advice. But I did tell him, 'When you're putting together a band remember, a guitar player can screw up and you don't hear it, a drummer can (miss) a beat, but if a bass player makes a mistake, everybody knows it.'"

Follow your heart and your muse

"I just think it's so important to follow your instincts. Generally, your gut will tell you something. Ultimately, if you follow that, things might not go well, you might not be successful, but at least you'll know you took a stand. One of the worst times was we went down to record our second record — our first record had gone platinum and it had done so well — we went down to Los Angeles with a big-time producer. I really felt like it was the wrong thing. It wasn't the right combination. I told the record company that and they said, 'No. You good Canadian boys will suck it up.' I didn't stand up for myself."

Don't expect to get rich, but you'll see a lot of the world and meet some great people

"Greenland for instance, the fjord where most of the icebergs are capped off of, I never would've gotten there without music. Or meeting sports heroes I had. Playing hockey with Wayne Gretzky or Guy Lafleur, I mean I never could've done that with my hockey skills. It's been really a charmed life in many ways."

Get a deposit for your gigs

"You still even get burned in that sometimes. If you get a deposit and people decide to pull the plug, at least you get something out of it. Fair is fair."

Work hard and treat people fairly

"I think the working hard part is so basic. I consider myself a bit more of a journeyman. I work hard. And you get better by working hard. I think that's the reason I still have a career. Treating people fairly, I've seen high-profile people treat people unfairly, people they work with, people on their crew, radio station people and when things start going poorly for them, people just walk away. But if you've treated people well, they'll stand by you."

Have fun

"Musicians that I love travelling with, even if things are going south with a string of bad gigs, you can have humour and have fun and it will realign your attitude and make all the difference."

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