Who’s Who: Bernie Zinck
By Mike Butler
Bernie Zinck, in my opinion, is one of the most talented local musicians we have here in the Valley. I have known Bernie for close to 30 years, as we attended the same high school together: the original KCA. I’ve been following Bernie and his music adventures for many years, and I’m so excited to finally feature him in my Who’s Who column!
Bernie was born and raised in Kentville, and was a prominent member of KCA’s celebrated band program! Bernie started playing guitar when he was eight years old, then he learned bass guitar, drums, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, and has dabbled in many other instruments. In his grade 12 year, Bernie was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa. Little was known about the condition at that time, and Bernie was told he would eventually go blind, but the doctors didn’t know when. With an uncertain and unpredictable future, he wanted to see the world, so he decided to move to Hollywood, California and attend the prestigious Musician’s Institute.
On his experience in California, Bernie notes, “along with the amazing instructors, I had the opportunity to study with famous musicians like Kirk Hammett (Metallica), members of Cheap Trick, Steve Vai, studio legend Tommy Tedesco, and jazz great Joe Diorio, just to name a few. Upon graduation, I moved back to the Valley and started a thriving private music teaching career, which now spans over 20 years”
Bernie is a private music instructor, bandleader, multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, composer, and producer, just to name a few things! I told you he was talented folks, and those few labels don’t even begin to cut it! As a performer, Bernie currently has four musical projects on the go (which is a low number for such a busy guy, but Bernie has a young daughter now so priorities have shifted a bit!). “I play solo acoustic shows which are a lot of fun,” he says. “I also have a duo/band with long time friend Melissa Vidito called The Melberns, that plays country, pop, soul, R&B, rock, and everything in between. I have a three piece blues and classic rock band called The Bernie Zinck Band and I am bandleader/bassist/vocalist for the 15-piece Valley mega group Bluesmobile. As a songwriter and producer, I’ve had my music featured on TV shows such as Sony/Lifetime’s The Lizzie Borden Chronicles and NBC’s hit show Chicago Fire.
So, I know this Who’s Who is about Bernie but after the last paragraph it’s pretty clear that the musical talent that flows through this Valley is interconnected and very vibrant. Melissa Vidito is my first cousin and I have known about her incredible talent since birth. Watching her and Bernie make music together is very special. Once you add in the other talented Bluesmobile artists with many famous faces like Darrin Harvey, Sarah Pound Gaetz, Doug Murley, Tim Fisk, and many more, Bernie clearly associates with the cream of the crop and his concerts, small music shows, and independent projects are well worth following.
“Music is my life,” Bernie says. “I love teaching, playing, and writing. It’s all I do, aside from spending time with my partner Anne Marie (another great musician) and our beautiful daughter Morganne, who keeps me busy and is my best creation ever! Besides music consuming a lot of my time, I do dabble in video editing a little, as the doctors did not predict that my vision would hang on this long. Although my peripheral and night vision has deteriorated, my central vision is hanging in there and I am very fortunate. I live every day to the fullest and don’t let my eye condition stop me from anything I want to do. Yes, it’s a part of me, but does not define me. I have been able to do what I love and make a living doing it. What more could I ask for? I am a lucky guy, I have a wonderful family, great friends, and the best job ever!”
To end on a rather exciting note: Bernie is in the process of becoming an ambassador for the CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind). His job as an ambassador will be to educate the public about people with vision loss and that being visually impaired doesn’t mean you can’t see at all. Nothing seems to stop this very talented man! From all of us at The Grapevine, including this longtime fan, we wish Bernie all the best!
For information on music lessons or show bookings, head to Bernie’s website: berniezinck.com. Bernie posts all of his upcoming shows for various acts on his Facebook page (Bernie Zinck Music).