Sharing his passion for the blues, David Berntson and his band Backbone presented his “Blues in Schools” program with a rousing performance on the Barton campus last Thursday.
A gifted harmonica player and a prevention educator and drug/alcohol counselor, Berntson's “Blues in the School” program blends a curriculum of blues music and character education. Over the years he has shared his love of the music to scores of young people throughout the nation.
Berntson, a native of Tulsa, Okla., has been honored for his continued work in blues education, both in Tulsa and across the country.
In 2006, Berntson was named the recipient of the Keeping the Blues Alive in Education award presented annually by the Blues Foundation. The Blues Foundation presents the award to individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to blues music.
Berntson and his band present their programs to alternative schools for at-risk youths, after school programs, as well as traditional classroom settings. Participants range in age from kindergarten through the 12th grade. He has used his harmonica to reach incarcerated teens in the Oklahoma prison system.
The “Blues in Schools” program has been presented at previous King Biscuit Blues Festivals. He and the Backbones performed Saturday at this year's Blues Fest on the Rising Biscuit Stage.
In 2010, Berntson toured the Middle East. The tour included performances, workshops, jam sessions and master classes.
Berntson is considered a master of Chicago, Mississippi and Jump styles of blues music.