Barney & Dustin Bentall Make Tour A Family Affair

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Never underestimate the power of family.

While some children intentionally seek a career path different from their parents, others are content to follow in their footsteps. Such is the case for Dustin Bentall, son of famed Canadian musician Barney Bentall.

Although Barney is, naturally, a proud father when it comes to speaking of Dustin’s numerous accomplishments, he says he felt it was important for Dustin to find his own way rather than trying to steer him down a specific path.

“I grew up in a family where there was a lot of pressure to join the family business. I guess that I kind of rebelled in a way with having chosen not to get involved,” Barney says over the phone while travelling from his ranch in Bowen Island, B.C.

“I never could have put pressure on any one of my kids to do something specific for a career, least of all with music. With music, you have to be passionate about it, regardless of the rewards. If you get into the business with the goal of glory or fame, you might as well forget about it.”

Passion was something evident in Barney’s career from the get-go. His major label debut album with his backing band The Legendary Hearts scored three hit singles – “Come Back To Me,” “Something To Live For” and “House Of Love – ultimately helping the album sell more than 100,000 copies in Canada. The group would go on to win the Juno Award for Most Promising Group in 1989.

Barney’s subsequent records with the Legendary Hearts – 1991’s gold-selling Lonely Avenue; Ain’t Life Strange (1993), Gin Palace (1995) and ‘Til Tomorrow (1997) – kept him on the radars of music fans from coast to coast.

But after a restructuring at his former record label, the group quietly disbanded in the late ’90s.

From the turn of the century through 2006, Bentall enjoyed a self-imposed sabbatical from music before returning in 2007 with a solo record, Gift Horse. He has since released two other solo efforts, 2009’s The Inside Passage and 2012’s Flesh and Bone.

It should go without saying that should Dustin have been looking for advice on how to break into music, his father would have been a plentiful resource. Barney insists, however, that he never wanted to interfere with Dustin’s decisions, feeling it more important that he find his own voice, literally and figuratively.

“I just sat back and watched as Dustin started gradually walking down that path to music. Of course I was going to be supportive of him but knew it was crucial he carve his own creative pathway, as well as with the mistakes that go along with it. I didn’t want to be one of those people who coached or questioned every move he was making.

“Dustin has absolutely blossomed on his own, however. From his songwriting to his vocal pitch to his overall confidence. It’s been a wonderful thing to witness,” Barney says.

Barney and Dustin Bentall’s current jaunt – touching down at the Riverview Arts Centre on Saturday evening – is the first time that father and son have undertaken such a wide-scale tour. While they have routinely performed a series of travelling benefit shows together each November for the last nine years, hitting the Trans-Canada Highway together to play cities such as Moncton and Halifax is a new venture altogether.

It’s something Barney loves.

“To be honest, I cherish those times I get to perform with Dustin. I feel very privileged to be able to go on this tour,” Barney says.

Because it tends to be later in life when we acknowledge that our parents aren’t nearly half as bad or unhip as we made them out to be in our younger days, having the opportunity to really indulge in a mutually enjoyable activity such as touring isn’t always a reality.

Acknowledging how fortunate he is to be able to take to the road with his dad, Dustin says that music never set him apart from his father as much as it was responsible for bringing them closer.

“I wouldn’t say it was surreal growing up with my father being a well-known musician because I really didn’t have anything to compare the experience to,” Dustin notes. “What I did know, though, was that growing up and watching your father play shows and winning a Juno Award was really special and fun.

“What probably steered me into music moreso than anything else though was the people that would come around the house, as well as the guys in my Dad’s band. They are just like uncles to me. Music was at the heart of everything when I was growing up but a sense of family was also instilled in me fairly early. My father was a family man with four kids before he had really seen anything in the way of big success. We were his main focus, which drove him to make music work as a career.”

Dustin’s career has been nothing to sneeze at, either. With three full-length efforts and one EP to his credit, he is following in his father’s footsteps rather admirably.

Getting back on the road is something that Dustin is looking forward to. He says that following the relatively hectic pace of the last eight years that involved releasing music, recording and touring in support of bands like Blue Rodeo, he reached a point almost two years ago where he knew it was time to catch his breath.

He relocated from Toronto to Vancouver, and, with a friend, launched B.B. Gun Leather, producing hand-made leather pieces.

Taking a break and finding new interests have both reinvigorated his love for music.

“I knew that I needed to reassess myself and frankly, it’s been the best thing for me,” Dustin says. “Taking the time to get grounded and settle into writing for a new record has been great. I feel as though my head is in a much better space; I am more excited about the music I have going on in my life now more so than ever.”

What: Barney & Dustin Bentall
When: Saturday, March 28, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Riverview Arts Centre (located inside Riverview High School), 400 Whitepine Rd., Riverview
Tickets are $20. Advanced tickets are available at Jean Coutu (438 Coverdale Rd., Riverview), Frank’s Music (245 Carson Dr., Moncton) and Sobeys (1160 Findlay Blvd., Riverview). Tickets are also available for purchase online at riverviewartscentre.ca.