Gary Bertsch & The Blamers
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Gary Bertsch & The Blamers

Cincinnati, Ohio, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2019

Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Established on Jan, 2019
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter




"He’s an English teacher by trade but folk-rock star at heart"

ByHaley Parnell - June 20, 2022

“During freshman year at NKU, my teacher said we’re going to go around the room and say a fun fact about ourselves. This kid said, ‘I have a band, and we’re looking for a lead singer.’ I chased him down the hall after class and asked him if I could audition. That was the early 90s, and I have never stopped, and I never plan on stopping.”
Gary Bertsch didn’t always know he was musically inclined. He grew up in a sports-oriented family and didn’t realize he could sing until he was cast as the lead in his senior class play at Bishop Brossart High School.

Fast forward to chasing his classmate down the hall at NKU, and Bertsch got the gig and became the lead singer in the band.
Bertsch continued to pursue a teaching career during college, and while he wanted to pursue music full-time, he knew he also wanted a family. So Bertsch became a high school teacher and continued singing in cover bands.

He broke into creating original music about 12 years ago and found it far more rewarding than singing covers. That morphed him into who he is today: “Gary Bertsch and The Blamers,” a sometimes one-person band, singing and playing his Cajon (percussion instrument) and hi-hat stand (part of a drum kit with a tambourine.)
You can catch Bertsch playing local private shows, bars, and festivals with his “Blamers,” which are reoccurring musical guests like his son Garren Bertsch, who plays saxophone and does backup vocals, and Dan Walsh on guitar and backup vocals.

“Blamers” can also be guest performers that play shows and make it on a list of “Past Blamers” on Bertsch’s website: Bertsch describes his style of music as folk-rock.

When he first considered starting to play his original songs, Bertsch said someone told him, “No one wants to hear original music in Northern Kentucky.”
“That lit a fire under me,” Bertsch said.
Gary Bertsch singing and playing the Cajon with his right foot and the hi-hat stand with his left foot. “The Blamers” Dan Walsh on guitar and Garren Bertsch on Saxophone.

He said he had been turned down by local bars that only want cover singers but has found success at other local places like Sis’s on Monmouth and Alexandria Brewing Company.
“It’s so rewarding playing gigs and playing songs that I wrote,” Bertsch said. “And I still play some cover songs, but the bulk of what I do is my own material.”

Gary Bertsch and The Blamers’ most recent performance was at Alexandria Brewing Company’s “Brettaroo” festival in front of about 400 people. He said his family jokes that he goes into “band mode” before performances, whether in front of 12 people or 400 because he still gets butterflies.

“As soon as I start singing, then it’s like, ‘boom’ here we go, let’s rock, let’s do it,” Bertsch said.

Bertsch also records albums with his Blamers in a recording studio in Alexandria and has music on all streaming services and hard copy CDs. He released his first album, “Blame Bertsch,” in 2012, about two years after he started writing his music. He released his second album, “The Bear,” in 2019.

Bertsch draws inspiration from his life to create his music. About a month ago, he released his third album, “Hot Dern Vol. 1.” The album features one particularly special song for Bertsch, “Hot Dern.” It was the first song he wrote to be released as a single.

“Hot Dern” was inspired by Bertsch’s uncle Al who had Down syndrome and was someone that Bertsch deeply admired. The song, named after a common Al phrase, tells the tales of Al’s adventures hitchhiking to and from the Cold Spring Ameristop and the Martha Layne Collins Kroger to set up his table to sell raffle chances.

“Down 27 a thumb in the air, someone will stop, someone who cares. Hitching a ride to the Ameristop store, ole Al will set up right next to the door,” Bertsch sings in Hot Dern. His uncle, who started smoking cigarettes in his teenage years, decided to quit cold turkey after “politicians” raised the price, and he never picked them up again.
“Hot dern politicians raised prices today. Uncle Al was throwing his cigarettes away,” Bertsch sings at the song’s start.

“I intentionally tried to write more lighthearted, whimsical songs, like about Uncle Al, and most of the songs on here I’m working on have that kind of feel, make people laugh, I laugh telling the stories,” Bertsch said.

He always prefaces a “Hot Dern” performance with anecdotes about his uncle to keep the audience engaged.

He said “Hot Dern” took him months to perfect, whereas the song “Left Foot Brake” he was able to write in 30 minutes. “Left Foot Brake” is another song on his third album inspired by a real-life situation with symbolism entwined.

“Sometimes I actually break with my left foot,” Bertsch said. “I tell my students, ‘Don’t actually do this,’ but ‘Left Foot brake’ is about getting out of your comfort zone symbolically or metaphorically.”
Bertsch is currently in the studio working on his fourth album, “Hot Dern Vol. 2.”

“In the back of any musician’s head, you’re thinking, ‘could a song blow up?’ I’m perfectly content continuing doing what I’m doing,” Bertsch said. “It’s a labor of love. That’s what it comes down to. Little victories for me, like getting in and playing Brettaroo music festival, I love that stuff. Merchants and Music (a festival in Fort Thomas), those things make it all worth it.” - Link NKY

"Live on WOBO 88.7 FM"

Watch/listen to Gary's interview and performance on WOBO! - Gary Bertsch

"Professional and Great Experience"

Gary Bertsch and the Blamers have played at my place more than any other band. They act professional, arrive early, and are ready to go before the time they are supposed to go on stage. Once on stage, they have an amazing sound. Their original song writing is reminiscent of Woody and Arlo Guthrie, while their style is more like the Avett Brothers. They bring a great energy to every show!

Reviewer: Andy Reynolds
Event Date: November 23rd, 2022
Services Provided: Folk Band

Rating: 5 out of 5 - Andy Reynolds

"Private Party"

"I reached out to Gary to play a graduation party held in the backyard. Gary brought a big stage feel and incorporated that into our intimate setting and the crowd could not have been more engaged. A true professional, he would feel at home playing at Riverbend, my backyard, or anywhere in between. Book Gary for your next event and your guests will have a wonderful evening."

Jason S.
June 2022 - Gary Bertsch

"Gary Bertsch and the Blamers to release their newest album, The Bear, at York Street Cafe Saturday"

By Maridith Yahl NKyTribune reporter

A quirky, self-described nerd, who likes to have fun is one way to describe Gary Bertsch of Gary Bertsch and the Blamers. This dynamic group, all Northern Kentuckians, release their new album, The Bear, this Saturday, October 12. It’s as fun, upbeat and light-hearted as he is and the release show will surely be the same.
This self-taught drummer — yes self-taught — had a fascination with drums. So if you don’t know how to do something, you teach yourself. Right?

When asked how, Gary tells one of many entertaining stories. “The Black Crows are my favorite band of all time. I would sit on the edge of my bed at my parents’ house and I would put on my favorite Black Crows song and just play in the air. I would get drumsticks, I knew the movements from watching other drummers, and I knew where the high hat would be and the snare drum, and I just keep at it in the air,” Gary says.

It’s just that easy.

As a teacher for over 20 years, Gary inserts a lesson for his students. “I tell my students all the time — and my sons — if you’re passionate about something you’re going to figure out how to do. Just keep at it. So I did.” In 2010 Gary wanted to begin writing his songs. So he picked up a guitar, taught himself some chords, which gave him the tools he needed to write songs. Then came Blame Bertsch.
“It was the Blame Bertsch Band; it was a joke with my students. I was kind of funny with my students where I would be sarcastic and joke, I would say, ‘don’t take responsibility for your grades, just Blame Bertsch, just Blame Bertsch.’ It kind of had a nice ring to it so I just named the band that too,” — along with his fourth album.
The Bear is a fresh start for Gary.

“It’s been a true labor of love that’s taken every bit of three years just to get it together. I’m really excited about it,” he said.
Writing and playing his music is a dream. “There’s nothing more rewarding than playing your own songs. For a while, when I was younger, I was just really nervous about playing my own music, now that I’m a little bit older, it’s what I want to do.”

The teacher in him cannot stop. “I tell my students if you’re artistic, if you’re into music, art, drawing, sculpture, put it out there. Don’t be afraid. A lot of them feel like they’re not good enough. Embrace and love it. I wish I would have had that 20 years ago.”

About the music, he says, “It’s just a cool vibe and I just wanted to do something different.” Gary has developed a unique blend of what he calls Folk Rock and Roll and Americana. It’s easy to hear both influences in the sweetly blended styles. The different styles beautifully together create something special for this special man, teacher, father, husband, and musician.

1970s influencers like Ray LaMontagne, Amos Lee, and Little Feat helped shape who he is as a musician today and on this album.
His beginning years he was all rock. Think Beatles and Black Crowes. Then, Gary admits that as years went on, his musical tastes changed. Plus, “As I grow older I don’t want to be screaming into the microphone all the time,” Gary shares, always turning everything to fun.

The Bear, as his students found out, is not about a grizzly bear, but a metaphor. The theme thread through the album is redemption. “When you screw up or you fall on hard times are you going to do something about it, or are you just going to sit back, or are you going to redeem yourself, make amends.” The songs, The Bear, The Mend,and Rubble and Mortar are about these things, destruction and rebuilding.

The album has serious redemption songs but also light-hearted tunes. Gary describes Sugar as a “fun to dance to, be-bopping song.” As his quirks come out, he admits he is a huge fan of pioneer Simon Kenton. After reading a book about him he wrote the song Mountain Air.

As an admitted nerd, every time he goes over the Licking River Gary tells his family that Simon Kenton was on that river. He chuckles as he shares that his family loves to hear it, so they can make fun of him.

His buddy Dan Walsh has been a huge influence on Gary’s music. “He’s just been my right-hand man for 20 years. He’s a phenomenal guitar player, he has pushed me to get better,” in a moment of all seriousness, Gary says.

The only thing making this new collaboration and album better is having his oldest son playing the saxophone by his side. “It’s really rewarding, looking over and seeing him on stage with me,” the proud papa beams.

Join Gary Bertsch and The Blamers for his new album release on Saturday, October 12 at the York Street Café in Newport at 8 p.m. Enjoy the music and laughter sure to come with Gary at the mic. - Northern KY Tribune

"Great Music and they stayed later than they were booked!"

I booked Gary and his group for the 2018 Greenhills Harvest Fest as our headliner and although I was too tired to stay to hear them play I was given rave reviews from our volunteers and committee about their performance! One of my council members told me that they sounded great, the crowd was really enjoying the performance, dancing along and that the band even stayed 45 min longer than they were booked to perform! I really appreciate how great these guys were to work with and knowing that our crowd was enjoying them! Thank you so much to Gary and The Blamers for a great performance!

Brenda D. Village of Greenhills

Reviewer: Brenda Davis
Event Date: October 6th, 2018
Services Provided: Americana Band, Folk Band

Rating: 5 out of 5 - Gary Bertsch


Singles:  Hot Dern, Good Standing (With My Local Library), My Old Kentucky Home

Albums:  Hot Dern Vol. 1, The Bear, Blame Bertsch



Gary Bertsch was born, raised, and resides in Northern Kentucky (just a few miles south of Cincinnati).  Gary is a singer songwriter, musician, and story teller.  Fans have described Gary's live performance as an authentic, heartfelt, interactive experience. Gary performs solo and with The Blamers. He has released two full length albums, an EP, and multiple singles.

Gary sings, plays rhythm guitar, as well as percussion.  In 2012, he released his first album, Blame Bertsch, and his second, The Bear, in 2019.  He released a single, Hot Dern, in the fall of 2021 and released his EP, Hot Dern vol. 1 in May of 2022. Gary released the single, Good Standing (With My Local Library) on March 24, 2023.

Gary has performed at Maifest and Oktoberfest (Covington), The Flying Pig Marathon, Harvest Fest Greenhills (Cincinnati), Brettaroo music fest, The Southgate House, The Thompson House, Clear Mt Food Park, Streetside Brewery, Ft. Thomas Merchants & Music Fest, Evans Orchard, Sis's on Monmouth, and Alexandria Brewing Comp.  Gary Bertsch & The Blamers have appeared on Radio Artifact and performed live on air on WOBO FM 88.7.

Gary was a lover of nerd culture before it was cool to be a lover of nerd culture.  His nerdness extends, but is not limited to:  Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The X Files, Dr. Who, reading, writing, and professional wrestling. Gary is also attempting to memorize every line from The Big Lebowski. “Strikes and gutters, ups and downs…life goes on, man.”

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