Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Tim Barry recently released his latest album 28th & Stonewall on Suburban Home Records, and finished up supporting Gaslight Anthem on tour, which hit the Chicago House of Blues. Spending an hour with Tim Barry I learned two important things, when he wants to make something happen, it does, and Tim really believes in the music he sings which shines through when talking about upcoming protests. During our interview we touch on his latest release, his recently discovered past with Gaslight Anthem, and upcoming projects.
An easy-going and joyful attitude, Tim Barry was quick to point out the Chicago House of Blues truthful agenda for soundcheck times with Gaslight Anthems set for 3:00, Tim Barry 4:00, and Chamberlin ‘Doubtful’. Touring with no tour manager, or backing band for the Gaslight Anthem shows actually meant more on Barry’s plate with having to self manage his press schedule, soundchecks, and set times. Things can easily get jumbled together when there is no one to help keep the time table track, but during the interview I could sense a genuine respect the artists had for each other as Gaslight Anthem’s tour manager made sure Barry got a soundcheck that day.
Opening up for Gaslight Anthem Tim Barry discovered a piece of history he shares with the boys, “We were just talking on the bus the other day that it turns out I saw them at their first show of their very first tour. They played this little dive bar behind my house in Richmond, Virginia. I don’t go out much when I am at home but my buddy Travis was like ‘It’s right behind the house, they are really good friends.’ It was me, Travis, and two other people at the show, and now I am opening shows with them with up to 2,500 people in them. It’s neat to see them on their first show, of their first tour with four people there and then watch them really just do it right, and be one of the greatest rock n roll bands nowadays.”
Playing stripped down sets with just his guitar and a microphone, Tim Barry has been touring for 20 years, but still feels nervous before shows. “I was considering having a full band because it is a nerve wracking thing to open up a show by yourself, standing there with an acoustic guitar, when almost every single person there is waiting to see the headliner. I find sometimes that hiding behind the conveniences of music don’t really work for me, it is the challenge that keeps me alive. I concisely decided I am going to do this tour as a folk singer because I am going to be scared to death every single night when I go on stage,” says Barry.
If looking for Tim after a set, do not bother at the merch table, because that is one place he tries to steer clear of, but for good reasons, “I don’t do so well over at the merch table, mainly because I will give everything away. I stay away from it, and it is a funny thing since I have to pay for the merchandise before tour, and if I hang out at the merch table I will give it all away, and then I end up in debt at the end.”
Touring in support of his latest Suburban Home Records release 28th & Stonewall, Tim chose the album title, as he did with each previous album based on where it was written. “I have this weird geographic thing with titles, and it goes all the way back to my first release Laurel Street Demo which was written on Laurel St. My next record was Rivanna Junction, which I literally wrote most songs at a camp down by a train track at Rivanna subdivision down by the river. That is the title, when I hear that name it conjures up the time I wrote those songs. The next record Manchester was the city I used to live in when I wrote that record. 28th and Stonewall is the cross streets that I wrote the entire record,” says Tim.
On 28th & Stonewall there is a song called “Prosser’s Gabriel” which is written about Gabriel’s life as a slave, attempted revolt, death, and how Gabriel and other slave graves are now buried beneath a parking lot. Tim not only writes songs about this type of injustice, he also takes action as he is planning a protest in Richmond. “I am organizing this massive protest in October to play on a parking lot in Richmond where below it there are an unknown number of slaves buried. Instead of the city recognizing the fact that it is a burial ground, the Virginia Common Wealth University just disregarded black activist groups and archaeologists and others who looked into the area and just ignored them and put a parking lot over it. Myself and others in the city felt like we cannot with a clear conscious live in a place where people are so disrespectful. The city is not buckling, and the University is not buckling so we are going to start doing direct action, and I am organizing a highly illegal concert on the parking lot, and it is going to be crazy. I am going to have somebody help build a sculpture of one of the slaves, and I am going to illegally lag it into the ground. I have to bring a lawyer with me because I will go to jail for it. I am trying to sort it out so I can get out of jail before I have to make my next show.”
“My brain is always spinning, and there is something about the road, there are enough thoughts in my head that I don’t really have to read or turn my brain off. When there are wheels spinning my brain just spins, and I can sit in the bus or van looking out the window and come up with all kinds of neat ideas. These are the things I do, and then I really implement them. I don’t know how or why, but I do,” Tim says.
Following a couple of one off dates, and light touring, Tim will be going overseas in November, playing Suburban Home Records 15th Anniversary show in Denver, Fine Foods parking lot for Richmond’s Best Friends Day, and a free show in a church basement for The Listening Room. He has recently announced new tour dates which are listed below. To read the entire interview transcript, click here. I talk with Tim Barry more in depth about touring, what he does to kill time on the road, Best Friends Day, and much more!
For more information on Tim Barry: Official Site Facebook MySpace Full Interview
Tim Barry Tour Dates:
8 / 21 – RICHMOND, VA @ FINE FOODS. (Unplugged show in the parking lot of the Fine Foods convenience store in Richmond’s Oregon Hill Neighborhood. It will be just before the bike ride to the lake)
8 / 24 – RICHMOND, VA @ THE LISTENING ROOM. 1135 WEST FRANKLIN ST. SHOW STARTS PROMPTLY AT 8PM!
9 / 10 – WASHINGTON, DC @ THE NATIONAL MALL (UXO SHOW – http://uxotour.com/tour.html) *playing this show around at around noon
9 / 11 – DENVER, CO @ 3 KINGS TAVERN ($10/12 – 60 south broadway – 8pm doors)
9 / 12 – FORT COLLINS, CO @ SURFSIDE 7 ($6 – 150 N. College – 21+ – 9pm doors)
10 / 1 – VIRGINIA BEACH, VA @ THE JEWISH MOTHER – W/ JOSH SMALL
10 / 2 – ROANOKE, VA @ THE WATER HEATER – W/ JOSH SMALL
10 / 8 – BALTIMORE, MD @ THE OTTOBAR (UPSTAIRS) -W/ JOSH SMALL
10 / 9 – PITTSBURGH, PA @ 31ST STREET PUB -W/ JOSH SMALL
10 / 15 – CHARLOTTE, NC @ THE MILESTONE -W/ JOSH SMALL
10 / 16 – RICHMOND, VA @ THE CAMEL -W/ JOSH SMALL
10 / 30 -GAINESVILLE, FL @ THE FEST – TBD