Bert’s Beat

by Stephen McCann for Bert Jansch, recorded live at The Black Box in Belfast

Recorded in live at The Black Box, Belfast
January 2019

Stephen says: “I wrote ‘Bert’s Beat’ pretty quickly when I was chosen as a Wildcard. It has elements I love and aspire to in Bert’s playing, from the driving bass, taking elements from blues, folk and jazz; moving the melody line onto intervals; and bending notes hard, to create lovely dissonance. ‘Bert’s Beat’ was the final tune in a gig that went amazingly well. The live recording, I think, captures the vibe. I played a set of Jansch covers and there were performances from Bert’s biographer, Colin Harper, and Tanya Mellotte who has previously worked with Bernard Butler. Colin said, “It’s great to hear Bert’s music live again.  In fact, to have it live again…”

“I don’t recall when Bert became an all-consuming passion, it seems like he’s always been there. He gave me something wonderful to aspire to. His playing got under my skin and it satisfied my artistic desire to both imitate and create.  I met Bert several times, the first where he introduced me to Davey Graham in Belfast.  He was a wonderfully humble and quietly encouraging man and I am glad that we crossed paths. I am still in awe of his body of work and the themes he addressed, from the archetypal to the deeply personal. It’s been a real trip, thanks Bert!” 

Stephen McCann met up with Bernard Butler at the Black Box on 27 January 2019. “Bernard was a sweetheart. He used the TransAcoustic on a couple of the songs during his gig and signed it (again) too. The Foundation got a mention on stage as well. Thank you so much for introducing us, it’s been a blast!”

Steve with Bernard Butler in Belfast

Artist's own music

“Steve’s version of Bert Jansch’s ‘Black Water Side’ is of particular note, as is his own instrumental guitar pieces and ‘Drink to Remember’, a keening song of love and loss. McCann’s superb strumming secures his superiority among this city’s singer-songwriters.” BBC NI