David Berntson

David Berntson

Southeast Region
[email protected]

David Berntson is an educator and a musician who will share a fun and lively Blues music educational experience. Using harmonica, guitar, voice, and homemade "Diddley Bow", he will trace the origins of Blues music from Africa to modern day America. Every performance emphasizes basic life skills through songs by famous Blues artists. Dynamic songs are used to enhance the experience and help illustrate the history of the harmonica and guitar, Blues history, and its connections to contemporary, popular American music. The audience will participate by learning the call and response tradition, rhythmic hand clapping, and singing. Each song is selected to maximize enjoyment and appreciation of the unique American art form, the Blues. Harmonica instruction is also incorporated into the presentation with each participant taking home a harmonica.


David Berntson of Tulsa, OK, has played blues harmonica for over 40 years, both in his home state of Illinois, and in Oklahoma. He is a master of Chicago Blues, Piedmont blues, Delta Blues and Jump Blues. Currently, David performs with Little Joe McLerran, the Duo-Sonics, and fronts the jump blues combo the Hydramatics. David’s technique, composition and tone reflect his many years of dedication to the art of Blues harmonica. In 2010, David traveled to the Middle East on The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad with the Little Joe McLerran Quartet. The Rhythm Road is a diplomatic musical and cultural mission sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and Jazz at Lincoln Center, taking American music across the globe.

David has many opportunities to share his enthusiasm and passion for the Blues with young people. In partnership with Arts organizations, Blues Societies, and private funding, David presents "Blues in the Schools" at Blues festivals, schools, and music events throughout the country and around the world. David’s performances and presentations are unique in that he blends blues education with life skills. David is the recipient of a “Keeping the Blues Alive in Education” award by the Blues Foundation in Memphis for his blues education programs. In May, 2015, David was inducted into the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame and honored for his contribution to blues music in his adopted state. He is also an endorsee for Hohner harmonicas and has performed at festivals and events both nationally and internationally, including the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas, the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in Davenport, Iowa, the Snowy Range Music Festival in Laramie, Wyoming, Bishopstock Blues Festival in Exeter, England, and Jon Gindick's Harmonica Jam Camp in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Berntson has recorded with Little Joe McLerran, the Duo-Sonics, the Hydramatics, the Tulsa Blues Club House Band, Rick Berthod, and has been the featured guest harmonica on many other recordings. In January, 2015, David released his latest recording N URTOWN with the Duo-Sonics.

Berntson's unique harmonica style, his passion for the Blues, and his gifts at connecting with people infuses his music with soul. With every note, David reaches his audience, creating a dynamic and entertaining musical experience.

AIE Program

Preferred Age Level: all ages
Geographic Availability: statewide
Time Availability: Open
Special Needs: Allow for purchase of harmonicas in planning the supply budget.