George Bedard has been a seminal figure on the Michigan roots rock scene for more than 20 years. A member of the Silvertones in the 1970s and Tracy Lee & the Leonards in the 1980s, Bedard has been increasingly attracting the attention that his energetic guitar playing and gutsy vocals deserve as leader of his own band, the Kingpins. Goldmine recently called Bedard "one of the best rockabilly pickers on the planet," while Record Roundup wrote "Bedard may not become the next trendy thing, but as far as this kind of music, he's already the next cool thing."
The Kingpins, featuring Randy Tessier on bass and Rich Dishman on drums, have developed a reputation as one of Michigan's best bands since their formation in the early-'90s. Their debut album, Upside, was named Blues Album of the Year by CD Review in 1992. Upon the album's release, Guitar Player referred to it as "a brainy composite of blues phrasing and rockabilly bad-boy twang." Their second album, Hip Deep, followed in 1997.
- Craig Harris, Rovi
Rockabilly, blues/rock. While other youngsters in the 60s were listening to British Invasion bands and wishing they were on the Ed Sullivan show, a young George Bedard was in his basement teaching himself guitar, playing along with records by blues legends Howlin' Wolf, B. B. King, and Muddy Waters. By the early 70s, Bedard was teaming up with blues harpist/guitarist Steve Nardella to form the Silvertones, one of the finest Ann Arbor, MI, blues/rockabilly bands of the 70s. Combining genres is a path Bedard has pursued relentlessly, working in groups both as a soloist and sideman, covering a wide range of styles from country to jazz to rockabilly and back to his first love, the blues. There's not much Bedard can't play extremely well in any of these idioms, his style always informed by taste and economy. Though his solo recordings have been few, George Bedard remains a guitar hero's guitar hero.
Bedard's 1992 debut album, Upside, features great originals and a rollicking textbook approach to everything from rockabilly to T-Bone Walker-style blues. Worth is just for the explosive solo on "What a Shame".
- Cub Koda
In 1973, Steve Nardella had a group called the Vipers which included drummer, Fran Christina, bass, Sarah Brown and guitarist, George Bedard. They recorded the very first record for Blind Pig Records (001).
Then came the Silvertones, which also included guitarist George Bedard. They were a big influence in the roots-music rival that was happening in the mid-1970s. They traveled to Austin, Texas to California, and to many other spots through-out the U.S. This was before such groups as the Paladins and the Fabulous Thunderbirds, (which included Fran Christina). The Silvertones released an album, also on Blind Pig, called "One Chance With You", in 1977. It was well received by the critics and still retains a following of fans. In addition to his lively harmonica work, Nardella began playing more guitar and assuming more of the singing chores.
By 1978, Nardella reformed the band bringing his vocal and musical skills to the foreground, and it was now called the Steve Nardella Band, and included Bedard and boogie woogie pianist Mr. B (Mark Braun). An album was released on Blind Pig called "It's All Rock & Roll". But by 1981, that band was history.
From that point, they went on to form other groups, both staying in the Ann Arbor area. Nardella went on as the Steve NardellaTrio. Bedard formed the Kingpins and also was in Tracy Lee & the Leonards in the 1980s. Goldmine magazine called Bedard "one of the best rockabilly pickers on the planet," while Record Roundup wrote "Bedard may not become the next trendy thing, but as far as this kind of music, he's already the next cool thing."
The two remained friends through-out the 1990s and both recorded for Schoolkids Records. Around 2006, the Firefly Club began featuring a Reunion of Nardella, Bedard and Mr B (Mark Braun), along with a bass player and drummer. These yearly reunions have been standing-room only, since then.