The Music Lives On

The music of the Barren River Trio lives on but the members have moved on to new projects and opportunities.

The Barren River Trio would like to thank everyone for their support and love.

It is unlikely that there will be another record releases or live performance under the banner of the trio, but there is talk of separate future releases from the members in the not to distant future. Updates will be posted here as they become public.

The music will continue to be available for streaming and for purchase here on the website, iTunes, Amazon, and Pandora.

God bless and thank you again for listening and sharing this time with us.

Slide

For an early guitarist learning scales is a groundbreaking moment when you can set yourself free to open expression on the instrument. The chords and shapes that you had worked so hard to form make so much more sense when you find the minors and majors that give that note or key its character. The knowledge of scales allowed me to idly run my fingers across the board and play notes that fit right in the progression that was being played. Once you have played those scales a time of two you can start to recognize how what your fingers are plucking will actually sound. In my guitar playing journey this was the most rewarding moment I had come across. To actually make the guitar sing in a sense allowed me to execute the sounds that were in my mind and make them a reality.

A decade of guitar playing down the road, I discovered another form of integrating scales one that pushed my guitars voice a little farther. Slide guitar was something I always saw but never really gave it much thought. But when I started delving deeper into 70’s blues based rock it was unavoidable to hear the influence of the slide guitar style. It wasn’t until I began to listen to dobro and pedal steel players until I made the connections and really started to crave the sound a fluid moving note on a stringed instrument.

Slide guitar was inaugurated by the early bluesmen of the south and had its roots in African based instruments. The slide sound was glamorized and began to be a staple in country and Hawaiian music with the pedal steel. In my option the slide guitar was mastered and made renown by the rock guitarists such as Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, Joe Walsh, Johnny Winters and bands such as Led Zeppelin, Canned Heat, The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

In a way, the guitar is transformed to a fretless instrument capable of emulating the human voice just by touching glass, brass, or smooth metal surface to its strings. The slide guitar is a foundational sound of American music and is still alive in today. Let it Slide!

Be sure to check out this amazing Jas Obrecht Music Archive. Special thanks for the photo of Duane.

Legend

I’ve always thought it cool when rich folks don’t flaunt their money so that other people can see it. I saw an interview on a late night show with a famous actor recently who said that when he began making real money, he bought a farm, log cabin, a trampoline, and a bed. Apparently he decided to stick with the essentials.

Lately I’ve been stuck on Bob Marley’s Legend record. It’s a “the best of” record and I just can’t seem to listen to anything else right now. I’ll pull out Merle Haggard or Jackson Browne but always end up switching over to Bob and the Wailers again. Right now my favorite track is “No Woman No Cry”; it’s a live recording from Europe, and it’s one of those where the crowd doesn’t recognize it right off the bat. But anyway, the reason for my Marley rant was that I found a quote from him that was funny and somewhat genuine. He said…

“I have a BMW. But only because BMW stands for Bob Marley & the Wailers, and NOT because I need an expensive car.”
This reminded me a lot of the interview I had seen a few days before. Some celebrities are rich and flaunt it; some are eccentric and buy weird stuff, and some buy BMWs because they have the same initials as their band.

If you get the chance, get Bob Marley’s Legend album. It’s one that makes you think of summer time when it’s cold outside, and it’s one of my all-time favorites.

Legend (Remastered) [Bonus Tracks] - Bob Marley

The Band

There is a fine line between a group spinning its wheels for years, and really making something big happen with their music. While I wouldn’t call us a “bar band”, we have been playing smaller gigs for going on a year and a half now. Given, we have had a handful of bigger shows that really seemed to help us out with meeting the right people.

“The Band” (above) is a big influence on the way that our music sounds. They started as a backing band for Ronnie Hawkins from ’58-’63. When they left Hawkins in ’64, Bob Dylan took notice and they began to back him on a world tour, and then for a few informal recordings in the late ‘60s. In an interview lead guitarist Robbie Robertson said, “We spent 8 years in dives, pubs, and smaller places. Then, we spent 8 more playing arenas and stadiums”. Eight years is a long time to be grinding away at getting your music out there, but it seems like most hard working bands have to go through this phase before they can make an impact.

Recently I was asked what my goal is with all of this music business, and honestly it was the first time I had actually sat down and thought about it. When we first started making music I was along for the ride, and just wanted to see where it might go. But now I think I have more specific goals in mind for the group and for myself. My goal for us is to get our music out to as many people as possible, and to keep creating more of it. I certainly have no dreams of striking it rich, but I would love for my living to be made from something that I love doing. And it seems like lately we are getting closer to being able to do that, with new and bigger show opportunities that are coming in the springtime.

Robertson also said, “It is an impossible life (living on the road), it’s no way to live. I can’t imagine being on the road for another 20 years”. I hope to never be on the road for 20 years, but I do hope to be able to do what I love.

Facing Your Fears

I think all of us are afraid of something. It’s human nature to deny even having fears, especially in males. In many minds, fears equate to weakness; and no one wants to be seen as weak. If we’re honest with ourselves though, most would admit to having a certain level of fear ever present in their lives.

What is fear? And is it such a bad thing to have? Dictionary.com defines fear as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.” From that statement we can come to know that 1) fear is normally self imposed 2) fear is a conditional emotional response. Despite the normality and consistency of fear, centuries of cultural values have taught us that there is only a certain level of fear that can and should be tolerated. For instance, if you are very allergic to peanuts (to the point where it would kill you within minutes if you were to eat one), then a natural fear would be the constant worry of accidentally ingesting something made with peanuts. That is what society tells us is a good fear – a logical reaction that keeps your mind sharp and on edge, essentially helping you survive. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there is “irrational fear”. These are the fears that logic and and science tells us are self imposed and debilitating. An example would be someone who has a fear of tarantulas, but lives a 2000 miles away from their closest known habitation. Logically, it doesn’t make sense.

Traditionally then, we’re told there are good fears and bad fears. When it comes right down to it though, fear is still fear; no matter good or bad. It can paralyze you, it can cause doubt, and it can keep you from living a full life. For myself, I am ready to rid my life of any fears I have. I feel like I’ve spent far to much of my time finding ways to skirt around the edges of my fears, rather than driving full force through their heart. No longer will I allow myself to be chained to wall of irrationality. In my quest to truly LIVE (something I have discussed in earlier posts), I must first shed the inhibitions that come with allowing fear into my life. This means no more worry…no more uncertainty, and more confidence in my actions. This goes for everything in my life – whether it be moving forward in Barren River Trio or wholeheartedly pursuing other passions. There was a time for contemplation – but now is the time for action!

A life without fear is something we all strive to attain. Many seek it but few can truly find an inner peace. For myself, I have learned that I am placing my trust in something so far greater than anything man could create. My trust has been placed in God and my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Not to turn this post into a religious discussion, but there is no other way for me to credit my recent change of thinking. Sure, I can definitely say that some of my personal heroes and icons have helped lead me to a stronger resolution in life, but ultimately to face my fears I had to first realize that if I’m living the way God has told me to, I am free. Not free to do what I want and live any lifestyle I choose. Free to NO LONGER HAVE FEAR. Honestly, what is the root of all fears? It is a doubt that, should something happen, what does that mean for my future? I have chosen a path that allows me the comfort of knowing that my future is in not in my hands, but in God’s. Its an amazing feeling.

I hope that everyone can learn to face their fears. Whatever path you take to get there, it will give you the most liberating feeling you have ever had. When you feel it, only then will you really begin to live your life.

The Mother Church of Country Music

A couple days ago I came up through Nashville with a close friend, and we decided to take the self-guided tour at the Ryman Auditorium. We walked around from the back of the building and snuck up on the sweetest looking tour bus I’ve ever seen; turns out it was Gregg Allman. What are the odds? We walked in hoping to accidentally catch a glimpse of the man himself, but ended up watching the crew set up for sound check.

While the crew set up, we wandered around the creaky floors and read the exhibits from artists 60+ years ago. It was a surreal feeling looking at the stage from the original pews where people sat to hear fiery preaching over 100 years ago. But the real kicker for me was just wanting to be a part of the country music throw-down that was the Grand Ole Opry. I had no idea how many of my favorite artists played there during that time. Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline, Bill Monroe, & Hank Williams brought the tunes at the Opry and kept the monster crowd coming back for more. Given, this is only a FEW of the amazing artists that played, but those were some of my top choices. I was shocked to find out that Elvis Presley only played one show in ’54 to an audience that couldn’t seem to warm up to his style. Elvis was never asked to come back. I guess no matter how good you are, if you don’t fit the vibe, you just won’t play certain venues.

As we kept browsing I realized that I might have been acting like a fat kid in a candy shop. Around every corner I was dying to see the next old artifact they had preserved in their king-size display cases. There were show posters, old guitars, clothes, shoes, sequin suit jackets (yep, sequin), and even Charlie Daniels XXL shirt from a show. The place reeks of real, genuine heart and soul, the kind that can’t be manufactured or commercialized, but real, good music.

If you’re ever in Nashville and have the chance to tour the Ryman, don’t pass it up. Best $13 I ever spent. You can feel the incredible history when you walk in, and you can’t seem to shake it off you when you leave. From the musty smell to the cracked and worn wooden pews, this place is all about good music that I wish I could have been around to hear 50 years ago.

Mark Twain

I love a good quote. I find them full of insight, wisdom, humor, and inspiration. I look for quotes that have sense of purpose, that expand my mind to chambers I hadn’t visited in some time. I’m a big believer in the power of written word. A great quote can cause you to go weak in the knees or strengthen your resolve more than you ever thought possible. Of course, for a quote to carry a lot of clout, it normally must come from someone who has accomplished something significant in their lives. They are usually men and women that have truly lived, and are able to convey their experiences and wisdom into a complete, poignant thought.

Of all the quotes I have come across in my life, some of the most powerful came from one of my new heroes, the legendary Mark Twain. Twain, who’s real name was Samuel Clemens was one of the most prolific and profound writers in American history. He was an author, a poet, a business man, a steamboat captain, and an outspoken activist for civil rights across the globe. The more I learn about Twain, the more respect for him I have. Here was a man that was not afraid to TRY. He failed so many times in his life, and more often than not it brought him to the brink of death. Yet he never gave up, and he continued to experience new things. This is why I respect and revere his quotes more than most. He is speaking them from his own experience – not based on something he heard or read. He once said of writing about his experiences “when the tank runs dry, you’ve only to leave it alone, and it will fill up again in the time while you were asleep, also while you were at work on other things and are quite unaware that this unconscious and profitable cerebration is going on.”

I recently watched Ken Burn’s documentary on Twain. If you haven’t seen it, it is worth every minute of the 3 and 1/2 hours it runs. Take time to learn about a real American who lived a rich, full life. Listen to the words he spoke and wrote, and see if you don’t come away with a more profound sense of wisdom and understanding. Twain is a hero of mine because he was never afraid to keep trying new things – to live life unhindered and free. What an exhilarating feeling that must be. Twain said it better than I ever could:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

– Alex

State Pride

While I have a great regard for the commonwealth of Kentucky where I currently reside, there is always a part of me that will take great pride in my origins. Although I was born in the state of New York I grew up and spent the majority of my life in Florida. The sunshine state is mostly known for its beautiful white sand beaches, golf course communities and of course “Snow Birds” (folks who live in northern states that enjoy the mild Florida winters). While this southern- most state of the U.S. is never regarded as “the South” culturally, in many ways it can plead its case in Dixie heritage. Florida was the third state to succeed from the union in 1861 and many confederate battles were fought across the state.

I recently came across a documentary called “Florida Crackers” that is an in depth look at the Floridian Cowboy. Now most would hear cowboy and think about the great cattle drives out west, but come to find out Florida was the first state to actually have the horse and the cow (being that neither species are native to North America). Horses were originally brought to the Americas by the Spanish. Because of the Spanish Florida also has the oldest city in our country that being St. Augustine. The grassy, flat, and yearly green land of Florida was a great place to herd cattle and started the trend.

In more modern history Florida gave birth to many of the pioneers of music. Some of southern rock’s finest gems are Florida natives. The Allman brothers (Gregg & Duane) spent most of their childhood on the East coast of Florida in Daytona Beach. Dickey Betts (another Allman Brother band member) was born in West Palm Beach and later met Duane and Gregg Allman a few miles up the coast in Daytona. Tom Petty is a native of Gainesville Florida, and the Lynrd Skynrd gang hails from Jacksonville. Even Ray Charles who was highly influential to the southern type of sound spent most of his early life in Florida and even his first music groups were from Tampa and Orlando.

In my recent travels I have come to fall in love with many places. I have been enthralled by southern hospitality in Alabama, been captivated by the beauty of the mountains of California, overwhelmed by the vastness of New York City, and taken back in time by historical sites over the south. But It seems that state pride is something that everyone carries to some extent, every place in this great country has a history of its own and I am proud to be a Floridian and an American.

Moonlight on the Mountain

It’s tricky finding good venues. It’s got to be a cool place, the vibe has to be right, it has to be full of people, and most importantly THEY have to want YOU to come out because they like your band. We have played some pretty nice venues, but we are always looking for new places to try out.

In late summer we played Moonlight on the Mountain in Birmingham, Alabama. Keith, the owner, has spent a lot of time and effort to keep Moonlight strictly how he feels a music venue should be. It might be one of the coolest concepts for a venue that I have ever seen; but what’s crazy is how simple it is. Moonlight is neither a bar, nor a restaurant. It is a smoke-free listening room that caters to the listener. Not to mention, all you have to do is step out the front door for an amazing view.

Walking in, the first thing you notice is the living-room feel that this place puts off. There’s a fireplace that wraps around to the sitting area for shows, and the audience is able to sit a good five feet from the artist. It is easy to get the impression that they were going for an “unplugged” feel when setting up the place. But the kicker with Moonlight is that people come ONLY for the music. They aren’t interested in food, drinks, or getting rowdy, they want to listen and get close to the artist. Its places like this that are a real pleasure playing, and we hope to be able to go back and pack the place out.

If you’re reading this and are thinking, “I know of a place JUST like Moonlight that would be perfect”, please let us know. We are always fishing for the outstanding venues, wherever they might be.

The “No Hymn” Policy

My Favorite Question

I love getting to know people. You could definitely say that I am something of an extrovert, and thoroughly enjoy a good conversation. There is something satisfying about moving past the initial “small talk” barriers and really getting down to brass tacks with someone – their likes, dislikes, goals, dreams, passions, etc. When delving into these conversations, there are a variety of questions I’ll ask in order to probe deeper. Some of them are able to produce real, meaningful answers that give great insight into someone’s life. Some however, never truly find a landing spot and do nothing more than skim the surface. Of all the questions I ask though, the one that I enjoy asking the most is this:

“If you could only listen to ONE song before you went completely deaf for the rest of your life, which song would it be?”

I have one rule with this question. Acapella Hymns cannot be one of the songs. The reason for that is that most people probably would choose a hymn for their final song, as the spiritual lyrics and melodies would be a beautiful thing to hear right before you went deaf. I like to make it harder on people though, so I strictly enforce the “no hymn” policy when I pose the question. Read more »