Hailing from the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia Michael Barry-Rec delivers a unique acoustic instrumental soundscape that knows few boundaries. With a spectrum ranging from the ethereal to the intimate, Michael strives to achieve the delicate balance of dynamic/symplicity.
His most current full-length release, Streams In The Desert, has proven to be a thirst quencher for music lovers far and wide. His ambient approach to Americana has yielded a carefully crafted album which features a number of very fine musicians including Grammy winning pianist George Winston. Showing outstanding potential for film this disc was awarded "Acoustic Film Score Album of the Year" at the 2008 Los Angeles Music Awards.
His debut, On The Road To North Mountain, is an instrumental odyssey that defies simple description. Organically rich acoustic guitar and atmospheric lap steel make up the core of this remarkable album. Progressive Ears magazine states, "Very rarely does something knock me off my feet like this disc from Virginia guitarist Michael Barry-Rec. This is music that needs to be heard and experienced." Music Street Journal says, "Sometimes words just don't do justice, such is the case here." Prognaut reviews exclaims, "This whole album is a highlight - one of the better independent, even major releases that has crossed my path in a long while."
Michael's solo loop enhanced performance showcases his unique acoustic and lap steel guitar technique.
On The Road To North Mountain - 2004
Streams In The Desert - 2008
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I get quite a few CDs sent to me for reviews here on this web site. I try to check out every one tha...I get quite a few CDs sent to me for reviews here on this web site. I try to check out every one that comes in even if it’s just to skim through the tracks to get a feel of what the music is like. Very rarely does something knock me off my feet like this disc from Virginian guitarist Michael Barry-Rec. I had originally intended to just sample a small portion but once it was on I was almost mesmerized by the sheer beauty of the music. By the third or fourth track, I was completely hooked. Ironically, if I had been given a description of this music I probably wouldn’t have been all that interested. This is music that needs to be heard and experienced.
First off, let me just get a few terms out of the way so I can continue to praise this album: bluegrass, new age, country. Ok…that wasn’t so painful now, was it? To be honest this album has a lot of those influences but Michael’s delivery is so filled with passion and skill that my general dislike for these genres is totally overlooked when listening to the music. Some of this reminds me slightly of a Jerry Douglas album that I have, but where Douglas shines on the dobro, MBR’s axe is the lap steel. His acoustic guitar work is very nice as well, but it’s the steel guitar leads that just make everything come to life. Many tracks just feature the guitars and some sparse keyboards from Josh Harvey but Michael isn’t afraid to add some boogie into the mix with drummers Todd Cooper and Steve West.
So what makes this music so fantastic? Well, there’s a very ethereal quality about the songs, as if this were the soundtrack to a very peaceful journey with amazingly beautiful scenery. I can imagine this North Mountain must be a very inspirational place. It’s also quite evident that this album just didn’t come together by accident. MBR has taken his time and crafted an excellent album of not only great music but also great moments. There are several spots on the album that could very easily be used as soundtrack material. Also, I detected a slight Pink Floyd influence to some of the music, which is often enhanced by Josh Harvey’s brilliant atmospheric keyboards.
Other appearances on the disc include a great electric guitar lead from Jeremy Leadbetter on “Go Fly A Kite”, Rob Campbell and Dave Porter lend a hand on guitar and bass in the all too short “…Thru The Fog”, and Ady Marks adds a nice slide guitar to “A Chance To Dream”. Everything on the album is great but I’d have to say my favorites at the moment are the two last songs on the disc. “Rain Or Shine” has a band plus it contains more great organ sounds from Josh Harvey as well as some nice harmonica from MBR. The last tune is a solo guitar piece with some very inventive reverb effects, it almost sounds like it could have come from one of the newer post-rock bands.
There’s a blurb on the web site website from Michael’s wife that says “Michael can make stones sing”. Even though there’s a little bias in that quote, I can definitely vouch for it. This is some very wonderful and relaxing music. On The Road To North Mountain is great diversion from all the over-inflated attempts at serious music these days. If you’re looking for something uniquely different that’s a bit on the lighter side, check this one out.
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To be quite honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got the On The Road To North Mountain album ...To be quite honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got the On The Road To North Mountain album by Michael Barry-Rec. I really wasn’t sure it would fit within the progressive music genre. But after several good listens, boy was a I wrong. The music is basically acoustic based symphonic. On the back of the cd, it’s listed as “ambient/ acoustic”. I’d guess to those beyond the progressive community that would be appropriate. There is some bluegrass and new age vibes going on throughout the album.
The main feel I get from the album is an ethereal quality that tells a story of a journey in an almost soundtrackish way. If you listen closely one can detect a slight Pink Floyd influence to some songs. Part of the key to that influence is by way of Josh Harvey’s keyboards. There are other musicians that help flesh out the music on this album. Most notable are an electric guitar lead from Jeremy Leadbetter on “Go Fly A Kite”, Rob Campbell (guitar) and Dave Porter (bass) in the short track “…Thru The Fog”.
As for the highlights of the album? Well the whole album is a highlight and one of the very few that gets played in one listen rather than sporadically over a course of time. The music just flows with a familiar feeling that you can’t help but keep listening up til the end. This makes On The Road To North Mountain one of the better independent, even major releases that has crossed my path in a long while. Michael creates what can be called a nice diversion from the mostly electric world of music these days. It seems that Michael subscribes to the “less is more” attitude. This is definitely something serious music lovers should check out ASAP!
There are no upcoming dates at this time.
|Oct 31, 2009 Saturday||TBA||Gathering of Guests and Ghosts||Strausburg, VA, US|
|May 2, 2009 Saturday||11:00 AM||Hopkins Green||Lexington, VA, US|
|Apr 17, 2009 Friday||8:00 PM||Launch Music Conference||Lancaster, PA, US|
|Apr 17, 2009 Friday||TBA||Launch Music Conference||Lancaster, PA, US|
|Oct 30, 2008 Thursday||10:00 PM||Coup DE Ville||Charlottesville, VA, US|
|Sep 12, 2008 Friday||8:00 PM||Boxerwood Garden||Lexington, VA, US|
|Aug 23, 2008 Saturday||8:00 PM||The Mudhouse||Charlottesville, VA, US|
|Jun 28, 2008 Saturday||12:00 AM||Soundquilt Music Fest||Strasburg, VA, US|
|May 9, 2008 Friday||10:00 PM||Coup De Villes||Charlottesville, VA, US|
|Apr 26, 2008 Saturday||7:00 PM||Private party||Lexington, VA, US|
|Aug 31, 2007 Friday||10:00 PM||Coup De Villes||Charlottesville, VA, US|
|May 27, 2007 Sunday||5:00 PM||Shake Rag Boogie Music Fest||Lexington, VA, US|
|May 26, 2007 Saturday||10:00 PM||Coup De Villes||Charlottesville, VA, US|