* Photo supplied. Rocker: Will Black is leaving Bermuda after almost five years performing at the Hog Penny.
* Photo supplied. Rocker: Will Black is leaving Bermuda after almost five years performing at the Hog Penny.

Musician Will Black is preparing to say goodbye to the "gig that changed his life."

The Canadian rock singer is leaving Bermuda after nearly five years of performing to locals and tourists at the Hog Penny.

His "top 40 rock" has always attracted a large expatriate crowd, especially the ladies.

With a repertoire of about 450 songs, Will got everyone on the dance floor and if he didn't know a particular request there's "a good chance he'd learn it."

The singer will continue to perform at weekends before "going out with a bang" with his final show on New Year's Eve.

Will said he has loved the intimate environment of the "neighbourhood pub with a friendly atmosphere."

He said: "It's been great, I've loved my time in Bermuda, it's been a life-changing experience. I'll really miss it.

"Hog Penny is a rare thing when it comes to a good night out, it's a really solid gig.

"The expatriate crowd used to come in for the niche of music that they were missing. I gave them something they weren't going to get anywhere else."

Will has been performing on the island since April 2005, working five nights a week from Tuesday to Saturday for nine months of the year.

His hours were reduced to Friday and Saturday nights last month and the Hog Penny cannot afford to keep him on for the 2010 season.

Will said: "I have to leave with things being the way they are, the island is really feeling the crunch.

HURTING ECONOMY

"It's all to do with the economy, Front Street has been hurt, the revenue for entertainers just isn't there any more.

"The entertainment scene has changed, the work's just not there any more, it's very sad."

Will said he would miss the regulars, most of whom have become his friends, and the way he invited fellow musicians to join him for a few songs.

He sees this as the ideal time to "change the focus" of his career.

He plans to move to Toronto to work on new material as an independent recording artist.

He said: "I'm not bitter at all, there's no hard feelings, I'm leaving Bermuda but it's been a real stepping stone for my career.

"This is going to give me a chance to move from covers to more original music.

"I'm going to have a lot more creative control over my music."

Will hopes a lot of his friends will turn up for his last show on New Year's Eve, saying: "I want everyone to come out and have a good time."

Will, who is married to Genie, started his self-taught musical career by busking in the street where he "learned how to get a thick skin."

He was working on the cruise ships when he docked in Bermuda and heard about the Hog Penny job.

He has previously released two singles called Dancing With The Dead and Senorita Ballerina from his first album, Dancing With The Dead.

His new album titled The Blinding Heights will be released at the end of January and he will digitally release a new single every month.

Will writes and produces his own material describing his sound as "classic rock, a cross between Aerosmith and Bon Jovi."

Will said his future ambition was simply to "continue making a full-time career out of music."

Phil Barnett, president of the Island Restaurant Group which includes the Hog Penny, said the fact that Will had his contract renewed for five years in a row "spoke for itself."

He said they would be sorry to see him go but stressed "the marketplace has changed."

Mr. Barnett said: "He's got a unique style that really seemed to work.

"He was a very good choice, his rock-pop had a good following and diversified the island's musical offering.

"As a much-loved solo act, Will's got energy that's hard to beat."

To find out what Will Black is up to visit www.willblack.com and sign up for his newsletter.