During the skiffle boom of the 1950’s, as a thirteen-year-old, Bernie was lead singer , playing banjo and guitar, in a skiffle group playing local church halls. He also played a lot of folk and old-time American music with his younger sister, Rosie and his older brother, Rod.
Quickly establishing himself as a stalwart of the Liverpool folk scene, he had lengthy stints as a solo performer and as singer and musician in folk groups, barn dance bands and bluegrass bands playing a variety of instruments, principally tenor banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle and melodeon.
Some fifteen years ago, Bernie joined up with concertina player, Andy Kenna, to form ‘Liverpool Forebitter’ appearing at many of the top U.K. shanty and maritime festivals and a number of European events. They made several recording, notably, ‘Salt Water Ballads’, a selection of John Masefield’s poems set to music by Andy, which they also performed as a show to considerable critical acclaim. Later, Bernie formed ‘Liverpool Packet’ with fiddle player, Keith Price, continuing to perform in a maritime context and holding school workshops about the songs and life of the old-time sailorman..
Over the years, has made many Radio and T.V. appearances and has broadcast on the history of sea-songs and has been instrumental in keeping alive the sea song tradition of his native Liverpool in his role as co-organiser of the highly successful Mersey International Shanty Festival.
Bernie now usually performs as a solo artist, his easy and amusing stage manner and consummate musicianship belying his deep knowledge of his subject and his familiarity with its practical aspects as a qualified yacht skipper sailing regularly on the sea near his home.