Dan Bern (aka Bernstein, a name which he sometimes performs under) is a guitarist, singer, songwriter, novelist, and painter. His music is often compared to that of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen, Phil Ochs and Elvis Costello. His song "Talkin' Woody, Bob, Bruce, and Dan Blues," from the album Smartie Mine, offers a joking take on this influence, presented in the style of a Guthrie or Dylan talking blues song, and containing a spoof of a Springsteen song as well.) When asked about the similarity between himself and Dylan he once quipped, "I guess Bob Dylan was sort of the Dan Bern of the '60's". Bernstein has also toured with Ani DiFranco. He is known for sardonic, literary lyrics, a range of musical styles, and a folk music style paired with rock instrumentation. He is an extremely prolific composer, having written over 600 songs. He also wrote the novel Quitting Science (2004) under the pen name Cunliffe Merriwether and wrote the preface under his own name.
Although a vein of social and political humor runs though even his earliest work, Bern's work became more explicitly political during the 2004 US presidential election campaign, with songs such as "Bush Must Be Defeated" and "President" highlighting his sometimes surreal political takes. His work also often deals with his Lithuanian Jewish ancestry, as in such songs as "Lithuania." The name Bernstein is a reference to this ancestry; on a trip to Lithuania, he learned it was his family's name before immigration to the United States. Bern's songwriting skills were used in the biopic parody film Walk Hard where he helped write 16 songs for the movie. Many of these songs made the theatrical cut of the film including the Dylanesque "Royal Jelly," and the melodic "(Have You Heard the News) Dewey Cox Died."
Many of his tours and recordings between 1997 and 2003 featured a regular cast of backup musicians which he began calling the International Jewish Banking Conspiracy or IJBC. When asked why he chose that name, Bern said it was a tribute to the book Nigger by Dick Gregory.
New American Language, The Swastika EP, Fleeting Days, & My Country II were all released under the Dan Bern & the IJBC name. The IJBC featured longtime Bern producer and collaborator Wil Masisak on keyboards, drums, guitar, & bass; Eben "Eby Brown" Grace on guitar and pedal steel; Brian "Slim Nickel" Schey on bass & guitar; Paul Kuhn on cellocaster; and drummers Colin "Spanky" Mahoney & Jake Coffin.
Previously unreleased studio albums are now available on iTunes and eMusic: