The Vehicle: 2011 Honda CR-V
- Formed his first band, Brandon Wolf, in 1978; between 1998 and 2000, Barney Bentall and The Legendary Hearts released five CDs that all reached gold or platinum in Canada; his most famous songs are Something to Live For,Life Could Be Worse, Come Back to Me, and Crime Against Love
- Bought his cattle ranch in 2000
- Solo albums include Gift Horse and The Inside Passage
- His latest CD, Flesh & Bone, released Nov. 13
- Barney Bentall and The Grand Cariboo Opry raises funds for Downtown Eastside residents of Vancouver; concert dates include Nov. 16 in Spruce Grove, Alta, and Dec. 8 in Vancouver
He hit the music scene as the lead man for Barney Bentall and The Legendary Hearts back in 1988. The band’s self-titled debut CD soared to the top of the charts, reaching platinum status in Canada and garnering a Juno award.
But in 2000, Barney Bentall shifted gears, dumping his fast-paced rock star lifestyle to take things slower, running a cattle ranch in British Columbia.
He still performs and writes music; his latest CD called Flesh & Bone just hit record stores. Around the ranch, you’ll see Bentall on a horse or a John Deere; on the road, his ride is a 2011 Honda CR-V.
Why did you buy a Honda CR-V?
Around my ranch and throughout my life, I’ve used a lot of Honda motors. Over the course of time, I’ve realized they’re so incredibly dependable. And it’s an incredibly simple 4WD system – it’s just a clutch that engages.
I’ve had a lot of different vehicles over the course of my life – I’ve had Ford one-ton pickups – and a lot of things go wrong in terms of the 4WD. But this is just so simple.
I have a fairly long trip from my home in the lower mainland of Vancouver to my ranch. This is fuel-efficient and dependable. It’s not completely racy. But it’s practical. I have a car that can drive 10,000 km between oil changes and seems bomb-proof – that’s what I really appreciate in my commuting vehicle.
Are you mechanically inclined?
With the farm, even though I am a musician, I’m mechanically inclined. I have to tune-up tractors and fix trailers and motors when I’m up here.
When I was younger, we would take a ’57 Chevy half-ton pickup, strip it down and work on it. My son, Dustin, is a musician and he loves working on cars. You can do a pretty good job on the older motors. But I think with all of the mechanics involved now you get increasingly divorced from what’s under the hood. It’s just the nature of the way the business has gone.
What don’t you like about the CR-V?
The interior layout could be improved. It’s a little pedestrian in a way. I feel a little bit like a senior when I’m driving it, which I’m getting closer to.
I think some cars are better around the console and how you feel in the cockpit.
What was your first car?
I bought a 1974 Chevy half-ton short-box stepside. I loved that so much.
I always had trucks. I loved trucks. There was a brief period when I was more artsy in university and I did have a Volkswagen Beetle. I smashed it up so that was the end of that one.
From there, in the lean times of music, we’d get some GM used Monte Carlo or whatever you could get everybody around in.
Did you splurge on a fancy sports car when you got your first big cheque?
My answer would be no. Whenever there was a windfall, it always went into the family. In our case, real estate.
There’s a little bit of The Wealthy Barber in me. The movement where you buy the most expensive real estate you can buy and the cheapest car you can buy. If there was a windfall, it would go into real estate.
But I suppose buying a new car was a bit of a treat, but it was a practical treat. It wasn’t a frivolous sports car. I remember when my dad bought an MGB. It was the coolest thing in the world! That was a fantastic car. But he only let me drive it once.
What’s your best and worst driving story?
My best involves a motorcycle. I had a BMW R1200 GS and we took it down to the Baja peninsula in January. That’s my favourite road trip.
My worst is innumerable trips across Northern Ontario. I remember when we graduated from going in a van into a motorhome, which was incredibly dangerous. In the wintertime, people would be sleeping up above the cabin. We’d get this deluxe one with two beds in the back. We were so tired from being on tour night after night. I remember looking over and our keyboard player, who is now a successful plastic surgeon in Vancouver, was fast asleep and bouncing, leaving the bed. I thought this is nuts. From there, we went to tour buses and now we fly most of the time.
When did you get your first motorcycle?
I got one early on. At my mid-life crisis time I got that BMW. That was what I treated myself to. I really like moving through space – it’s a blessing and a curse. Motorcycles appeal to me.
Any accidents on your bike?
No. But I think that’s what made me give it up.
I would never have done it in my 50s had I not done it when I was younger. For me, I lost a bit of nerve. You think about the things that can happen.
I’ve never had an accident on a motorbike. I’ve crashed a bicycle on a few occasions. I used to race and that kind of stuff would happen. It just seemed like the stakes were too high on a motorcycle.
What’s your favourite road?
The commute up to our ranch from Vancouver to Whistler, the interior to Lillooet and the desert country along the Fraser is one of the most beautiful drives ever. That’s what we go back and forth on all of the time.
Do you sing at the wheel?
Oh yeah. I’m so into blue grass music these days … I probably look like a jackass if somebody saw me at an intersection. I try to keep it to when I’m on the open road and the highways.
If I could bring you the keys to any vehicle what would it be?
I wouldn’t go for anything new. I wouldn’t mind a show-room-quality, early ’60s Ford pickup truck – the one with the three-on-the-tree. Just completely restored.
That would be the truck to drive around on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. My buddy had one and we were working on it all the time.
Or this might get into family history issues, I’d probably get a mint-condition MGB from the late ’60s. So I could finally drive it!