Monday 22 November 2010

I am a Strange Loop no. 1

I am a Strange Loop no. 1 on the GIG 365 stage.

Sunday 21 November 2010

Cyro Baptista's Vira Loucos - Cantiga

Cyro Baptista's Vira Loucos - Cantiga from Justin Bias on Vimeo.

Featuring: Cyro Baptista (Percussion & Vocals) Romero Lubambo (Acoustic Guitar) Kevin Breit (Electric Guitar & Banjo) Michael Ward-Bergeman (Hyper-Accordion) Vanessa Falabella (Vocals) Tim Keiper (Drums & Percussion) Shanir Blumenkranz (Upright Bass) Brian Marsella (Piano)

Friday 22 October 2010

Azul in Sao Paulo

Video snapshots during taken during performances of Golijov's Azul in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Featuring Alisa Weilerstein, Jamey Haddad, Luis Guello and MJWB performing Villa Lobos' Trenzinho for their final encore at the Sala Sao Paulo.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

2010 Aspen Music Festival

Joey's Confession at the 2010 Aspen Music Festival featuring:
Alisa Weilerstein - cello
Jamey Haddad - percussion
Keita Ogawa - percussion
Michael Ward-Bergeman - hyper-accordion

Click the arrows on the player/your computer to skip to the next tune.

Monday 20 September 2010

Groanbox Live at Livingston Studios

The complete set of Groanbox Live at Livingston Studios. Video by Oscar Cainer, sound mixed by James Birtwistle.
To forward to the next song, simply click the right arrow on the player.

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Memory Stick

In 2009, I found a big stick clinging to the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Louis. It was floating in the shadow of the Gateway Arch, right in front of the spot where the the Louisiana Territory was transferred from France to the United States.

I took it back to my hotel. Later that evening I needed a memory stick to transfer some files from a friend's computer, so I ran back to my room to get it. I saw the water logged stick propped up in the corner. I grabbed it along with the data device. When I returned to my friend's room I held the giant stick over my head and announced "I have the memory stick!!" The name stuck.

The roots of my idea for this instrument lie in Dorset, England. It was here where I first witnessed a troupe of Morris Dancers using a broom handle with a baby boot on the bottom and some bottle tops nailed into it as a rhythm instrument to accompany their dancing. This experience lead to the creation of the Groanbox freedom boot, which has been stomped all over the UK for almost five years and has inspired many others to build their own versions of the instrument.

Legend has it that the origins of the modern English version of this instrument known as the "Zob Stick" has its roots in the Aborigines of Australia. The Aborigines use a rhythm stick covered in seashells, similar to native Americans who have been known to use rhythm sticks covered in deer hooves and other organic material.

My father and I went to Sanibel Island, the "seashell capital of the world," in early 2010 to collect a big bucketful of seashells.

Memory Stick: one "stick" from the Mississippi River - sanded and varnished, one white cow's tail from Argentina, acorn type shell casings from a tree in Brazil (large and small on separate strings), some sea glass embedded into the top of the stick, a bunch of seashells from Sanibel Island and some fishing line, goat hoof rattles from Bolivia

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Feed the Machine

MJWB and old friend guitar maestro David Brown groove out on an original chamamé inspired tune on board the Lily Pad. Shots of the Annisquam River headed towards historic Gloucester Harbor and the drawbridge from Cape Ann Marina, where Lily is moored.

Sunday 4 April 2010

Blocking the Varnish

This tune is inspired by trains, but I composed it in a variety of airports around the world over the past year. From wiki: Many prestigious passenger train services have been given a specific name, some of which have become famous in literature and fiction. In past years, railroaders often referred to passenger trains as the "varnish," alluding to the bygone days of wooden-bodied coaches with their lustrous exterior finishes and fancy livery. "Blocking the varnish" meant a slow-moving freight train was obstructing a fast passenger train, causing delays. Filmed by Yulene Velásquez.

A nice shot taken during the process.

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Solar Eye

I was on tour playing keyboards with a struggling indie rock band in the fall of 2001. I had a day off before my flight back to London, so I headed out to my mother's place on Long Island. The next day I woke up to September 11. My flight back was canceled.

I decided to go to Hither Hills State Park in Montauk to watch the sun and listen to the ocean for a few days. I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of families out there camping and enjoying themselves, despite the horrible events that had unfolded.

When I finally made it back to London I quit the band, set up all of my gear in my tiny flat, and dove into a stream of consciousness journal I had been keeping for the past year. I was looking for gems buried in the thousands of meandering thoughts I had committed to paper.

I worked on the recording for about three months. I would wake up with a fire in my belly (no, it wasn't an ulcer) and just dive into the process.

I've always felt Solar Eye contains some of my best work. I still feel that way. I guess I am not one of those artists that seem to believe the latest thing they have done is always their best. I am lucky to have a few dear friends who "get" Solar Eye and have always encouraged me to do something with it. However, I think most of the people I have shared it with are baffled by it. So it has remained in a lonely, buried folder on my hard drive for nine years or so.

Solar Eye is meant to be listened to as one piece. If you are up for the challenge, download the tracks from soundcloud. Line up all of the tracks with no gaps in between and have a blast.

Solar Eye by Michael Ward-Bergeman

Download the lyrics
photo by Russell Duncan

Saturday 23 January 2010

When In Rome

Do as the Romans Do.

From Wikipedia:

St. Ambrose displayed a kind of liturgical flexibility that kept in mind that liturgy was a tool to serve people in worshiping God, and ought not to become a rigid entity that is invariable from place to place. His advice to Augustine of Hippo on this point was to follow local liturgical custom. "When I am at Rome, I fast on a Saturday; when I am at Milan, I do not. Follow the custom of the church where you are." Thus Ambrose refused to be drawn into a false conflict over which particular local church had the "right" liturgical form where there was no substantial problem. His advice has remained in the English language as the saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."

For more information on MJWB's personal encounter with St. Ambrose, click here

Monday 18 January 2010

Tuesday 12 January 2010


I spent the first days of 2010 in the Venezuelan state of Amazonas. About half my time was spent in the state's capital, Puerto Ayacucho. The other half was spent on the rivers that head into the rain forest and lead to Cerro Autana and the lands of the Piaroa and Yanomami.

I brought my video camera and a few instruments with me. I wanted to continue exploring working with a click track while filming performances in different locations, as I did with Candy from Strangers. I took about 45 minutes of performance video at several locations and hope to edit a few more pieces together. This was my first time working with Final Cut Express.