Rick Barnes Photo Credit Janie Murphy
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Rick Barnes for a couple of decades now. When the situation dictates that interactions in person are the task at hand, you get small bits and pieces of info over the course of time. There is a scheduled distraction of “Oh we have this musical event to make happen”.
Then one day you take the time to take those little bits and pieces and turn them into a deeper discussion. You find the truth, life, aspects of the character you previously only had to pull together in your own version of who your friend is. The conclusion I have arrived at from this talk only makes me respect the man more now than ever.
Rick Barnes had been out and about and attended a few shows I performed at. He was hanging back on formal introduction as back in those days I was in party mode. I was capable of great nights, some nights had their moments of being a drinker dabbling in music.
In going deep today I flat out asked Rick about our first “Hello”. He had asked me to play a benefit concert for Chillicothe, Ohio’s “Majestic Theater” that needed some TLC. He stated I was very professional…very drunk..but very professional. He is one of few who was not judgemental of those times. Rick has seen about everything and more than once. We clicked somehow and luckily I lived to see and have others see my sobriety finally arrive.
We continued the path of friendship for years and he began to open some doors for me that I would not have thought to open. My finding is that he is indeed a singer/ songwriter with an amazing history, he is also a student of music and a student of humanity. He is more importantly a mentor of invaluable thought. He is selfless and is not only a thinking man, he acts on those thoughts. If he is involved in a project, it has a little deeper meaning and a higher shine for his presence in it.
Listen To Rick Barnes & Friends Live
I learned a massive amount about my friend through his own words and its Gold.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH MUSIC?
“I never aspired to be a guitar hero. I approached the guitar as an accompaniment to my singing/songwriting. Add to that, I am a left-handed person, playing the guitar right-handed, and found chordal work much more interesting than picking technique. I gravitated to fingerpicking because I loved the sound of it and my single pick technique sucks blood. None- the -less, I consider myself a student of the guitar, and I am a minstrel/ songwriter .”
IF I”M NOT MISTAKEN YOU WERE INVOLVED IN THE HAIGHT ASHBURY SCENE?
“Yeah, in 1968 I lived in the Haight and then again in ’74,’75. I played at various coffee houses and a few ski resorts. I lived around the corner from The Jefferson Airplane and down the street from the Grateful Dead. It was quite a scene.”
Rick was also highly active in a time when many bands were finding their feet, He ran in the same circles and had formed friendships with what the world would ultimately know as the band “Pure Prairie League.”
“I was having draft problems so I moved to Columbus. Ohio. Jim Caughlin, John Call, Jimmy Dyke, Starr Smith,(who recently passed), and I formed a band called “Waldern Hill”. Craig Fuller had been working with J.D Blackfoot and moved in with me. Time went by and the musicians kept experimenting with different configurations. I went back to playing Folk Music.
I went to jail for refusing induction into the Army, got bailed out and won my appeal, and had to move to Berea Kentucky to do alternate service for two years.”
The others moved on in life and music, yet have remained as he described “Musical Compadres”.
WHAT OTHER PROGRESSIONS FOLLOWED?
“I have been in many bands, from “Charlie Ray and Country Playboys” to a showband called “Jump Street” that played Playboy Clubs. I have played in clubs as a band member and soloist all over the United States. It has been quite a musical journey and one that I used as a launching point for my first novel about a young musician discovering what the music business and the business of music is really all about.”
HOW DO YOU VIEW THE LIFE OF THE BUSINESS NOW?
“ I consider the vast majority of musicians who play every day in whatever gig they can find to be the heart and soul of the music business.”
“ Taking nothing away from those who, for whatever reason, managed to have a measure of success in the “business” of music, we are the foot soldiers, we are the ones storming the beaches of the Avant-Garde. We are the risk-takers, the movement shakers, the past, present, and future of music..”
WHAT INSIGHTS HAVE BEEN PRESENTED TO YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
“ Every famous musician I have ever talked to, and I have interviewed many, they all give credit to some unknown bar musicians who blew their shit away and took the time to show them a thing or two.”
“ Michael Bloomfield once said, ” It’s a bar gig man. Fame is just another bar gig between bar gigs. You’re either in it for the music, or you ain’t.” So all of this is a long way of saying, I would hate to think that my involvement, love and struggles, and success/failures in this thing that I love would get boiled down to one specific achievement.. I am just another foot soldier, but maybe, just maybe, we can get people to understand the importance of life-long musicians who are in it for the music.”
I have found Rick Barnes to be a teacher by word and deed. He has a passion not only for music but the good for humanity it can bring. Sometime back he took on the task of creating a project to benefit United Way. It showcased his writing, and in hindsight, the singers and musicians involved gave me Pause. It’s not only a great effort for a great cause. It’s a document for a large collection of our local talents. It’s a Family of Friends we both know and have both worked within some capacity. Its importance is heightened now as a few of the participants are no longer with us here on the Big Blue Marble.
Rick was also a founder of “The Foothills Folk Society” which has spawned many great Performances and once again done much to benefit artists and the community in general.
He is a treasure of a man. I will tip my hat to him until my last breath. The Minstrels Journey has been a great one.