Son of Blues Legend Makes His Own Way

Bernard Allison lives up to his namesake’s legacy with new album.

Grace Gouker

Bernard Allison

What: Album Launch Show

Where: WilebskiâÄôs Blues Saloon

When: October 2 from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m.



Sean Lennon, James McCartney, Jakob Dylan and so many others try to set themselves apart in the music industry. Some have distinctive careers of their own; some ride papa’s coattails to the gravy train. Bernard Allison would belong to the former category.

The sons of musicians whoâÄôve made it big in the past always have the vexatious obstacle of legitimizing their art. Zowie Bowie decided to change his name to Duncan Jones to avoid the process altogether. But Bernard Allison, son of the late blues legend Luther Allison, has outdone himself.

Integrating gritty, cutting lyrics and vocals and utilizing his fatherâÄôs six-string shooter, Allison has a sound that evokes older influences like Muddy Waters and Albert King. HeâÄôs simultaneously capable of keeping true to himself and continuing to evolve the Chicago blues sound, all the while calling Minneapolis home.

Raised in Chicago, Allison moved to Paris in 1989 to live with his father and to tour Europe with his band. After his fatherâÄôs death in 1997, Allison decided to relocate himself to the Twin Cities area. The guitarist has only two shows scheduled to showcase his new album, one of them being at WilebeskiâÄôs in St. Paul.

Allison pays homage to his father on the album âÄî an ongoing trend in his discography âÄî with âÄúLetâÄôs Try It Again.âÄù The song was originally performed live in Berlin in 1989 by the elder Allisonand was a staple in his stage performances worldwide. The song makes up in technique and production quality what it lacks in late-eighties swank and seasoned soul. Though the opportunity to be a bit effusive and sentimental is there, the younger guitarist manages to incorporate other influences such as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Johnny Winter, both of whom heâÄôs said have had a major impact on him.

âÄúThe OthersideâÄú was produced by Allison himself and Grammy-award-winning David Z âÄî also from Minneapolis. The band features Bruce McCabeand Lonnie Brooks on keyboard and in duet, who are both respectable blues musicians in their own solo careers. This combination of production and performance expertise is not to be missed, either at the October 2show or through the album.

The daddyâÄôs boy has done real good. It looks as though the other side has been realized.