Since the release of their first album, 'Wake the Hero' in 2009, Barnaby Bright has garnered high accolades for their songwriting and sound. Grand prize winners of the NY Song Circle competition, Barnaby Bright's music has also been featured on national television to soundtrack heavy moments on shows such as 'ER' and 'Days of our Lives.' Their follow up EP 'Gravity' was named one of the top 100 records of the year by Amazon.com, keeping good company with the likes of Adele and Bon Iver. They continue touring in support of their brand new full length record, "The Longest Day," gracing such notable venues as Lincoln Center and NPR's "Mountain Stage" in West Virgina, and sharing stages with the likes of the Lumineers and Norah Jones.
Nathan and Rebecca Bliss, the voices and the brains behind Barnaby Bright, are truly the modern day traveling troubadours, averaging roughly 200 shows and 40,000 miles traveled a year. You can find them on streets as far away as London or Amsterdam, and as remote as St. Paris, Ohio, toting their massive haul of instruments…multiple guitars, harmonium, banjo, ukulele, floorboard bass, thumb pianos and keyboards. Because of the great number of shows they've played in their world travels, as well as their use of unique instrumentation, powerful harmonies and thought-provoking, connective lyrics, this duo has mastered the original goal they set out to attain: to create a sacred, magical space for their audiences…a momentary escape from the outside world.
Their songs deal with a diverse range of subjects as relatable as longing and love, and as dark as death and revenge. The resulting emotional journey Barnaby Bright takes you on during one of their shows is one you will never forget. Drawing inspiration from literature, human behavior, experiences shared with the fascinating people they've encountered on the road, as well as a hint of fantasy, Barnaby Bright is a classic vision of timeless indie folk rock in all its glory.
Nothing about the journey of this married duo has been accidental or without purpose...even the band name itself holds a myriad of meaning for them. The phrase "Barnaby Bright" is a medieval term for the summer solstice. In 17th century England, the longest day of the year was celebrated with a large festival to honor St. Barnabus, and all joined together in merry recitation of the limerick, "Barnaby Bright, Barnaby Bright, the longest day, the shortest night." Nathan and Becky were instantly drawn to the name not only for its historical context, but also because of the many metaphors it represented to them: light and dark, good and evil, and the idea that though this innate, dualistic struggle is present in all of us, on the longest day of the year, light prevails over dark...goodness wins.
This dichotomy of the human condition is represented time and again not only in their songs, but in themselves. With over a decade between them, and drastically different childhoods and life experiences, Nathan and Becky find in each other so much of what the other is lacking, both musically and personally. They have discovered that their vastly different backgrounds give them each a unique approach to the world, and to songwriting. Perhaps that is why listeners find such depth and range of emotions in the songs of Barnaby Bright.
Rebecca Bliss - Piano, Lead Vocals, Harmonium, ukulele
Nathan Bliss - Banjo, Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica, Clarinet
"Wake the Hero" 2009
"The Longest Day" 2012
Amazon.com: Featured Artists August 2011
[+ Show ]
"Confessional folk-pop can be very hit or miss, but with their thoughtful production, diverse sonic ..."Confessional folk-pop can be very hit or miss, but with their thoughtful production, diverse sonic palette, and insightful turns-of-phrase, married couple Nathan and Rebecca Bliss, aka Barnaby Bright, have knocked this one out of the park."
Steve Morse (Boston Globe, Billboard Magazine & Rolling Stone)
[+ Show ]
"Honestly, I haven't felt this good at a folk-rock gig since seeing the Indigo Girls in their prime...."Honestly, I haven't felt this good at a folk-rock gig since seeing the Indigo Girls in their prime. Barnaby Bright has a graceful, uplifting energy reminiscent of the Indigos, but also have a virtuosity that is extremely unique. Becky can be festive but also sings with a mesmerizing stateliness that evokes Mary Fahl of the October Project at times, while Nate's vocals and guitar playing are gifted and creative throughout. They have a special chemistry that helps erase cynicism while giving hope that the best is yet to come."
Time Out New York
[+ Show ]
"Nathan and Rebecca Bliss make up the sweetly melodic folk-ish duo Barnaby Bright, whose songs have ..."Nathan and Rebecca Bliss make up the sweetly melodic folk-ish duo Barnaby Bright, whose songs have soundtracked heavy emotional moments on Days of Our Lives and ER." -Time Out New York
[+ Show ]
"Husband-wife team Rebecca and Nathan Bliss are the core of Brooklyn band Barnaby Bright (holy allit..."Husband-wife team Rebecca and Nathan Bliss are the core of Brooklyn band Barnaby Bright (holy alliteration, Batman!) Rebecca’s smooth, melodic vocals are reminiscent of Karen Carpenter or Shelby Flint yet rooted in her operatic training and Nathan’s incorporation of his jazz background into Garfunkel-y acoustic compositions bring diverse styles together to the folk in the road: a marriage of minds and hands and music." - Erin O'Keefe
NYC Art Scene- Spotlight Artist Barnaby Bright
[+ Show ]
"In New York City, a place where hunger for success and trading love for fame is as common as pretze..."In New York City, a place where hunger for success and trading love for fame is as common as pretzel vendors and Starbucks, the discovery of a duo pure of heart, mind, and talent is both refreshing and inspiring. There’s something so natural and uncontrived about the music and harmonies seeping out of these lyrically-driven folk artists, that you’ll find yourself mesmerized by the soulful intricacy of power couple Nathan and Becky Bliss, better known to audiences as Barnaby Bright." -Christina Morelli
Direct Current Music
[+ Show ]
"Sounds like: that special place somewhere between the sleek adult pop of The Weepies and the more i..."Sounds like: that special place somewhere between the sleek adult pop of The Weepies and the more intimate harmonied splendor of The Civil Wars...classically-trained vocalist Becky has an effortless, gorgeous tone while multi-instrumentalist Nathan adds harmony and a virtual kit bag of backing sound." -Dave Curtis
Chatham Patch- Folk Duos Delight Full House at Sanctuary Concert
[+ Show ]
"Opening for the folk icons was the Brooklyn-based duo Barnaby Bright, who received a well-deserved ..."Opening for the folk icons was the Brooklyn-based duo Barnaby Bright, who received a well-deserved standing ovation following their 45-minute set. The band, consisting of married couple Rebecca and Nathan Bliss, paired their lush vocals with acoustic guitars as well as some unexpected instruments including the harmonium and ukulele.
The two, who despite being "under the weather," put on a stunning performance, seemed genuinely shocked by the outpouring of support when the audience shouted for "one more song."
Direct Current- Daily Track: Barnaby Bright
[+ Show ]
"Brooklyn-based Barnaby Bright, fronted by creative leads Rebecca and Nathan Bliss, don't really do ..."Brooklyn-based Barnaby Bright, fronted by creative leads Rebecca and Nathan Bliss, don't really do things much differently than any number of acousti-pop bands shuttling around the pass-the-hat clubs on New York's Lower East Side. They just do them better. The key elements at play: Rebecca's lovely classically trained voice, able to conjure both the sweet and sultry, and the duo's fine songwriting. Comparable at times to The Weepies, Barnaby Bright find that special place between sophisticated and down home pleasures, an alt-folk/jazz(ish) merger that still bows to classic pop influences. Listen to the way their "Finally Said It" keeps you wondering what interesting twist and turn the melody is headed for next. From their self-released 2009 debut Wake The Hero." Dave Curtis (Direct Current)
OpEd New- The Music Bliss of Barnaby Bright
[+ Show ]
While in Boston last month for my daughter's graduation, I had a chance to revisit Club Passim, The ...While in Boston last month for my daughter's graduation, I had a chance to revisit Club Passim, The Place for folk music over the last 50 years. Campfire, a music festival, was in full swing and we were treated to some wonderful tunes. My guests today performed that night: Barnaby Bright's Becky and Nathan Bliss. Welcome to OpEdNews. Please tell our readers a bit about yourselves.
We are Nathan and Rebecca Bliss of Barnaby Bright, a folk-y guitar and banjo-based duo, featuring tight harmonies, thoughtful lyrics and a variety of different instruments... rooted in folk, but pushing the boundaries. Originally from Kansas, we currently reside in Brooklyn where we write, record, and perform throughout the area.? We released our first record, Wake the Hero, in January of 2009, and are currently at work on our next album of new material. We're spending the summer touring through the mid-Atlantic, followed by a short break and then a tour of Europe in October.
I can personally attest to the tight harmonies and more that you mention, as well as your exceptional voice, which you didn't. While it has a hint of Loreena McKennitt and Sarah McLachlan, it's no pale imitation of anyone else. What's your training and how did you become a duo?
I have been singing since I was a little girl... my mom was an opera singer so I grew up with music almost as a second language in the home. When I went away to college I knew I wanted to study music, but in most university settings, the only outlet for singers is opera. I quickly realized it wasn't the path for me, but at the same time there weren't a lot of opportunities in Kansas City for the type of music I wanted to be involved with.
I started putting out feelers, and met a booking agent who introduced me to Nathan, and we began playing music together in January of 2005. We started off just doing cover music in bars... no one listening... a football game playing on the TV right over our heads. It was a humble beginning, but we both were writing music and would sneak in an original song here and there. Our musical and emotional connection was instant.
We became best friends and fell in love over that first year of playing together. Unfortunately, there were a million complications that kept us from being together. After nine months, Nathan told me that we couldn't play music together anymore. The situation was impossible and unbearable. I was heartbroken, and moved to New York City two months later. Nathan went through a period where he gave up music completely for about six months. It was a very dark time for both of us, but we know retrospectively that it was incredibly important for our relationship, both musically and emotionally.
I did a lot of writing and growing during that painful time period, and in October of 2006 released an EP of songs that dealt almost entirely with Nathan and the emotions surrounding our situation. It was a cathartic process for me... working through the powerful things I was feeling through the composition and production of the album, and it was also the only way I knew I could really tell Nathan how I felt since we hadn't been speaking. When he heard the EP, he called me and said we had to start playing music together.? He moved to New York four months later, we were married eight months after that, and Barnaby Bright was born the following year.
What a (darkly) romantic story. Since you've been together, how have you defined your collaborative groove: who writes what and exactly how a song should be performed? And is it hard being married to your partner?
Yes, I suppose it is slightly dark, but it certainly has a happy ending!? We tend to sketch out ideas separately, and then come together for suggestions and to finish. Occasionally one of us will just pop out with an entire song and go to the other for help, only to find that the song really is complete. We've done some writing for TV [ER, Days of Our Lives, PBS Roadtrip Nation], and in that particular capacity, we write together though, from start to finish.?
Nathan and I are very blessed, because we love being married, musical partners. We are private people, and we have the same vision for our life and for our music, so it really works out perfectly.? The one thing we have to be careful of since we live together, work together and make music together (in our tiny NYC apartment) is giving ourselves enough space from each other and taking time out to just be alone. Nathan found this Rilke quote, and it's something we both really love and connect with- "I hold this to be the highest bond between two people: that each protect the solitude of the other."
Nice. You're on tour now. What's that like? What's the ideal mix of touring, performing locally, and creating and perfecting new material? And do you ever get it?
Ideally, we would love to travel for several days to a week each month. We love being on the road... never knowing who we will meet, where we will sleep or what we will eat. It's inspiring and exhilarating, though we've been surprised to find that we don't really do a lot of writing on the road. There's so much to see and take in, we feel bad being in a new environment and just hiding out in our room, instead of exploring where we are.? Coming home is always an amazing feeling... and we usually dive right into writing. I think we're affected by the experiences we have on tour more than we even realize.?
Getting out of New York City in the summer is great... a lot of the places we've been playing so far this summer are much cooler, and nestled in some truly beautiful scenery. When we play in NYC, we usually have a full band with us... a string section, drums, bass, etc. Since we've been on the road so much lately, we haven't done a full band show in quite a while... it's hard to coordinate rehearsals and prepare for such a big show when you're living out of your car and traveling so much.
It sounds like you've got a nice mix going. This fall, you'll head to Europe. Where will you be?
This year, we'll be spending about two and half weeks in Holland and Belgium. We're still in the process of confirming several gigs in the UK, so that's up in the air. Last year, we spent a week in Ireland, a week in the UK, and the rest of the time in Holland/Belgium/France, and it was one of the best experiences of our lives. We are beyond excited to be going back... we made some great connections and friends, and we can't wait to play there again.
Lovely! How do people learn more about Barnaby Bright? And, more important, how can they hear you?
You can visit www.myspace.com/BarnabyBright for MP3s, pictures, a bio and information on upcoming gigs. We're also on Facebook and Twitter, and we love when fans get in touch with us.
Great. Thanks for talking with me, Becky. Good luck to you and Nathan on your upcoming European tour. I'm eager to hear your new recording when it's ready!
Out in the Woods- Eileen Ivers & Barnaby Bright
"A melodic acoustic sound that is unpretentious and genuine."
There are no upcoming dates at this time.