Sunday, March 7, 2010

Booked and Bound to Go

Tulsa, OK
Little Joe McLerran Quartet, NYC, December, 2009
David Berntson, Little Joe McLerran, Ronnie McRorey, Robbie Mack

Hello Friends,
This is my maiden entry in Bernesto's Beat. I've set this up as a journal of my upcoming adventures on The Rhythm Road and to keep my friends updated on our journey.
This first week in March has been very full with a trip to Washington, DC and New York City for briefings at the State Department and Jazz at Lincoln Center. After having all our gear, including our luggage and instruments, screened at the State Department, we met all the partners involved in this incredible Rhythm Road exchange. We gained valuable knowledge about many of the customs in the Arabian peninsula. We did a drive-by through many of the national monuments and my hotel room in DC was larger than our first house on 66th Place in Tulsa!!

On leaving the State Department, we headed for the train station for a 3 hour train ride north to New York City. We were traveling with Shana and Jasna, coordinators from Jazz at Lincoln Center, as well as Chen Lo and the Liberation Family, another quartet scheduled to leave on their tour for countries in the same region in mid-March. I was impressed by the fantastic Union station in DC...lots of marble, tall ceilings, bustling people, and cool trains. It was a 3+ hour trip into colder weather and snow on the ground. We were happy to arrive at Penn Station in New York City and head to our now familiar hotel on 57th St near Jazz at Lincoln Center.

On Wednesday, we were coached and supported by the staff at Lincoln Center and a fantastic artist, educator and musician named Bob Stewart. Bob appreciates what we do and offered us the kindest "most-right-on" support in terms we could understand and relate to. We were also introduced to Billy Banks, who will be traveling with us in the first leg of our tour in Bahrain. He'll also drive us across the causeway to Saudi Arabia. Billy was the road manager for Wynton Marsalis for many years. I felt an instant connection with him and I'm looking forward to having his expertise guiding us on the first part of our journey in a strange and wonderful new land.

We flew home to Tulsa late Wednesday night and I finished up my work week in schools. Saturday night, the Little Joe Blues Quartet played a great music room in Tahlequah, Oklahoma called Granny's Attic. It's an Irish Pub with a great sound system and an established music tradition. Tonight, the Little Joe Blues Quartet is at Bodean's Seafood Restaurant from 6-9 pm.

With less than 3 weeks to our departure, we're tuning our engines, checking the oil, and charging our batteries for our journey on the Rhythm Road.


  1. Found you. Enjoyed perusing the site and watching the YouTube clips. Go make some happy memories. Safe travel.

  2. So how exactly did you guys get picked for this project?? It's a really cool deal!!!