Truckers' Barry rocks to his own beat
Few Milwaukeeans need an introduction to Barry's Truckers, a band that come summer is one of the most ubiquitous in town, playing seemingly all the festivals. They've been at it, dare I say, nearly as long as many of us have been walking this earth (and likely longer for some of you).
Don't let the appearance of frontman and founder Paul Barry's latest solo project alarm you, though, the Truckers are still rolling. But Barry is not one to sit around idle. His 12-song "Paul Barry and The Del Reys" CD, out now, is his third "solo" effort. For each one, he has assembled a crack band and this time it's no different.
What is different is the sound. Always seeking to satiate his musical thirst, Barry has played rock and roll, rockabilly, western swing and more. On this disc, his selection of songs have a decidedly country twist.
We recently asked Barry about the Truckers and about The Del Reys.
OMC: What's the status of Barry's Truckers these days?
PB: Barry's Truckers is alive and kicking and we'll be starting our 34th season this summer. We pretty much limit our playing to the summer festival season these days. During the winter we revamp the show and add new material. It also gives all of us time to pursue individual projects. The current band is seven piece with two horns and a girl singer. They're all great musicians and probably one of the nicest bunch of people I've ever worked with.
OMC: Tell us a bit about this new band. Do you assemble a new band each time you do a solo CD or vice versa? That is, do you do a disc when you have a good new band?
PB: The new band was put together especially for this project by Dave Neitzke who is the owner of DNA Digital Systems. He also served as the engineer and producer of this CD. The core of the group included Ryan Rossebo on guitar, Donn Trampe on bass and Gary Koehler on drums. Ryan and Donn are current members of the Chasin Mason Band. Gary is probably one of most solid session drummers in Milwaukee and has played with Greg Koch.
I was also fortunate to have some great guests on the CD. Tom Reifenberg (from Barry's Truckers) on keys, Susan Jeske-Dermody (from Frogwater) on violin and Jim Herman (from Chasin Mason) on violin. And a very special guest, Eddie Rivers (formerly of the Western Box Turtles and now a member of Asleep at the Wheel), recorded all the tasty steel guitar parts just before he left on tour with Asleep at the Wheel. It was such a privilege to have all of these people play on this record. I knew in my head how I wanted this to sound and Dave and all these guys made it happen.
OMC: The 12 songs on this disc are covers. How do you decide which tunes to do? Are they your favorite songs or are they ones you think you can bring something special to?
PB: The songs were collected over a two-year period. I'm always surfing the Internet and listening to and buying independent music. I put CDs together to listen to in my truck since I rarely ever listen to mainstream radio anymore. I kept being drawn to these basic roots rock tunes that had kind of country twang to them. I've wanted to do a solo project outside of Barry's Truckers and thought these songs would be the perfect vehicle.
OMC: It seems like classic rock and roll is a thread that runs through all of your music, whether it's country-flavored or rockabilly-tinged. Do you have a favorite period in rock and roll or can you find something that moves you in all different kinds of rock and roll?
PB: I've always loved basic rock and roll. Give me a solid backbeat, some great, clean guitar work, a song with a catchy hook and some great harmony and I'm a happy guy. I guess I developed my preferences growing up listening to Chuck Berry, the Beatles, the Kinks, and all the other great '60s groups. I like simple fun upbeat stuff. Surf, zydeco, rockabilly, country swing are some of the other styles of music that I enjoy.
OMC: What's the future of The Del Reys? Will the band continue?
PB: The question of The Del Reys is up in the air right now. It was originally set up as a studio project and wasn't scheduled to play out. That may have to change as there has been some very positive response to the CD, especially overseas. If that continues we will have to consider playing out.
OMC: What's the next step for Paul Barry?
PB: Well the most important thing right now is gearing up for the summer festivals with Barry's Truckers. Can't wait to be back outside with an ice cold beer and rockin' and rollin' again. It doesn't get any better than that! After that there will probably be some more recording. I'm thinking about an acapella CD this time around.
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