Sad news this week. Bernard Pallo, our guitarist for many years, was found dead at his home on Sunday morning. A great friend and an real blues guitarist, he played with many different line-ups and bands. He was also an accomplished piano-accordion player and worked with Gordon Smith both as a duo and in a line-up featuring plenty of Tex-Mex numbers as well as Blues. I met him over thirty years ago and we did gigs together over the years.
Bernie’s last recording was on the “Greek Street” Cd along with Chris Youlden, Mel Wright and myself. He also played in my band for the last five years at the Inn on the Green monthly residency. Indeed his last gig was on our final night there, as the place closed down a little while later. He has been fighting cancer for the last two and a half years and I and his other friends will miss him badly.
He hated the cigarette smoking ban and the gastrofication of pubs but loved food, cigarettes, wine, women, Guiness, books and film and we often went together to his favourite cinema in Soho for matinee performances immediately followed by a trip to the Coach and Horses in Greek Street. This was the pub where we met with Mel and Chris for so-called business talks, but the only real business there was drinking and discussing music, books and anything else, but not too much nostalgia.
For me, it was as a bluesman that I found him most on my wavelength. He loved Vinyl and had not much time for anything other than analogue reproduction. In fact the only time I ever got to listen to some serious blues on disc was when we’d spend the evening over a bottle of wine and bathed in the blues sounds of the greats of American blues. His style of playing was routed in the early Wolf guitarists and he was unique in that determination to play that way.
He had a part-time day job for over thirty years delivering Meals-on-wheels in the Westminster area and he made many friends during that time. I and Gordon Smith also worked there from time to time and I remember that Bernie would sometimes come in like a bear with a sore head, but on the whole he was helpful and considerate to his colleagues and customers. He will be missed there as well as on the music front.
On another note, Bass player Bob Brunning also died a week ago and his funeral is on Wednesday in a couple of days. It will be at 12.30 at Lambeth Crematorium in Blackshore Road. I did a couple of gigs with Bob and played also at his club. He ran a decent little blues festival too. He also published a few books including “Blues: The British Connection” as he was also there in the early days, with Fleetwood Mac and Savoy brown among other bands that he played in. He had a decent obituary in the national press and again will be sadly missed.