PDN journalist shares tales, interviews with musicians

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — If you've wondered how it would be to sit down with Roger Daltrey, Todd Rundgren, Roger McGuinn, David Crosby or Tori Amos, Charlie Bermant has the story.

It's the true tale of his life as a rock 'n' roll fan who grew up to be a journalist. And though he's been a community newspaperman for years — Bermant is the Peninsula Daily News' Jefferson County reporter — he also has kept slaking his thirst for musical conversation.

With A Serious Hobby: Inside Rock's Greatest Generation, Bermant has published a 220-page paperback full of interviews and articles about singers, songwriters, bands, festivals and even a rock 'n' roll Caribbean cruise he took last year.

These are mostly extracurricular activities Bermant engages in outside of his day job covering Port Townsend and the rest of East Jefferson County.

And these are glamorous pursuits: Bermant interviewed George Harrison, for example, in 1987 as the former Beatle was releasing his solo album “Cloud Nine.”

He's also chatted up Diana Rigg, that sultry Brit from “The Avengers.” This was 1975, and he was not long out of high school and was working on a story for the Montgomery College Spur in Montgomery County, Md.

Harrison, Bermant recalled, was much kinder than his publicists.

They had a “we're doing you a big favor, kid” attitude. Once Bermant got past them, he was able to have a pleasant talk with the Quiet Beatle.

Today, Bermant is slated to appear on Phil Andrus' “Tossed Salad” show at 2 p.m. on KPTZ radio.

38 years of music

A Serious Hobby takes readers through 38 years of music, from a 1974 Tom Rush interview all the way to 2011, when Port Townsend saw a visit by Taj Mahal.

Prior to joining the PDN, Bermant wrote for music magazines such as No Depression and Rolling Stone Online, with the occasional piece for The Oregonian and The New York Times.

Readers see Bermant's interviewing style develop, and they get to look inside a reporter's mind as he prepares to talk with the very famous.

“David Crosby is someone I had idolized since I was 12,” Bermant recalled.

And so he asked: “If you were 20 today, knowing what you do now, how would it be different?”

“I'd get a lot more work done in a lot less time. I wasted all that time getting loaded,” Crosby replied.

“I almost died, so every day becomes precious.

“I don't waste a second. I don't waste time being mad at people . . . I don't waste time putting up a shell.”

Not that Crosby followed Bermant's plan. Like a politician, “he gave me the answers he wanted to, and they weren't the answers to the questions I was asking.”

After nearly four decades of day-job plus freelance work, Bermant said these music stories are still good fun — have been since he was a 15-year-old boy from Brooklyn in New York City discovering Jimi Hendrix at an outdoor shindig called Woodstock.

So no, “I'm not jaded,” Bermant said.

With this book, he wants to offer readers something different from the hip, slick content in Rolling Stone and the like.

Not that he takes himself too seriously in A Serious Hobby.

“Lately I've wondered if this whole music thing has gotten out of hand,” he writes. Maybe it's “a tremendous waste of time.”

Next paragraph: “Just kidding.”

The self-published A Serious Hobby, priced at $11, is available at The Writers' Workshoppe in Port Townsend, Port Book & News in Port Angeles, via Amazon and from Bermant himself at ASeriousHobby@gmail.com.

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Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 29. 2012 6:22PM
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