Bernadette’s creative path reads like the back story to a mid-century Hollywood heroine: Ballerina, Fashionista, Hell Kitten, Sultry Chanteuse.
She spent her childhood in California and New York where she studied classical dance with the renowned Los Angeles Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theatre until an injury drove her love of drag and pageantry Northeast and underground. Coming of age amidst the gutter glam and jewel toned ink of New York and L.A.’s early 80s street punk scene the ballerina scraped by as a sometimes fetish model, makeup artist and clothing designer for the iconic punk rock apparel company Nana.
In 1993 Bernadette declared Albuquerque, NM home and in 2001 made her musical debut with one of the hottest roots rockabilly bands in the Southwest, the Long Goners. Working closely with Pat Bova, the band’s brilliant singer-songwriter, she belted out rebellious anthems in the style of Janis Martin and Wanda Jackson. Bernadette, with the Long Goners, shared the stage with Hank Williams III, Jonathan Richman, Wayne “The Train” Hancock, The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, Rockin’ Lloydd Tripp, Al Foul and the Shakes, Tom Walbank and Spo-dee-odee.
2003 found the burgeoning chanteuse ready to wrap her voice around the more complex musical terrain of jazz. She collaborated with acclaimed bassist and composer David Parlato for a year before forming a new band – Bernadette Seacrest and her Yes Men- with bass player/songwriter extraordinaire Michael Grimes. The combo’s first album “No More Music by the Suckers” was released in 2004 and features desire drenched jazz standards as well as original songs by Grimes and former bandmate Pat Bova. Swing City Magazine wrote that the album was “… not an attempt for a one time rockabilly kitten to break into the modern day jazz scene but an attempt to break the mold, an endeavor she unconsciously accomplishes.” Their second album, “Live in Santa Fe” was released in 2005 and magically captures the smoke filled acoustics of a sold out live performance. Bernadette toured extensively with her Yes Men, playing to packed audiences across the U.S. and France. She and the boys have been featured on NPR and shared the stage with: Samarabalouf, Mat Firehair & the Imperators of Kool, El Senor Igor, Devil Doll and The Glenn Koster Trio.
In 2006 Bernadette followed her heart to Atlanta where she put together a new project – Bernadette Seacrest and her Provocateurs – with guitarist/songwriter par excellence, Charles Williams and bad-ass bassist Kris Dale. A unique group, with a lean sparseness distinguishing and defining their sound as one guitar, one bass, and a voice. Together they sow a cross-pollination of that which some call jazz, others may call blues, and still others may perceive as swing noire. In late 2009 the trio released their debut album “The Filthy South Sessions” to critical acclaim. A collection of songs penned by Williams that range from the All Mighty’s drinking habits to an epic late night lament inside a diner at the end of the world. The tunes infuse Ms. Seacrest’s signature dark vintage sound with a Deep South hue. With new record in hand Bernadette and her boys continued to tour extensively in France…..
In between her European tours, Bernadette can often be found holding court within the infamous Atlanta nightspot – Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium – which seems to have emerged as a pre-ordained vehicle for the unique experience that only Bernadette can deliver. Former trio disbanded, Bernadette’s allure continues to foster her own constellation of talented friends as Atlanta’s local heavy hitters appear regularly in the audience and on stage. Francine Reed steps up for a duet, Big Mike Geier drops in to play the snare, and of course Kris Dale and R.L. Martin are always nearby – guitar and bass at the ready. Her willing subjects recoil, laugh and blush as she relentlessly exorcises the demons of doubt, inhibition and lowered expectations carried with us from the daily grind. Fans smile knowingly while newcomers are buffeted through the sets, each new effort seeming to top the last. When it’s all over they carry their experiences home in a beguiled state of wonder. Something has been restored and reclaimed. It’s authentic…. it’s intimate….. and we are blessedly reminded of how music can make us feel when we’re lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.