Barnaby Bright
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Barnaby Bright

Kansas City, Kansas, United States | SELF

Kansas City, Kansas, United States | SELF
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter




" Featured Artists August 2011"

"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)"

"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."

- -Steve Morse (Boston Globe, Billboard Magazine & Rolling Stone)

"Chatham Patch- Folk Duos Delight Full House at Sanctuary Concert"

"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." - Chatham Patch

"Direct Current Music"

"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 - Direct Current Music

"Out in the Woods- Eileen Ivers & Barnaby Bright"

"A melodic acoustic sound that is unpretentious and genuine." - Out In The Woods

"NYC Art Scene- Spotlight Artist Barnaby Bright"

"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 - NYC Art Scene

"OpEd New- The Music Bliss of Barnaby Bright"

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 - OpEd News

"Direct Current- Daily Track: Barnaby Bright"

"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) - Direct Current

"Time Out New York"

"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 - Time Out New York

"Deli Magazine"

"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 - The Deli Magazine

"Playing for Change taps 150 musicians for PFC2"

Barnaby Bright's Gravity ep combines stunning vocal harmonies with heavy string sections to create a sound that is always smooth. The fresh-coat-of-wax buff gives this collection the sound of a work put together by seasoned musicians, a class that husband-and-wife duo Nathan and Rebecca Bliss will soon join with their current rate of rising exposure.

Longtime dwellers of the underground New York / Philadelphia indie scene, Barnaby Bright has exploded in both maturity and recognition, with an undeniably gorgeous sound that has earned them features on the hit shows ER and Days of Our Lives, along with scoring third place in an international song-writing contest. Conspicuously mainstream in their mannerisms, Gravity shows us that marriage between indie-folk and pop can score big time accolades while maintaining its dignity.

Gravity provides a steady platform for Barnaby Bright's continued growth. The band illustrates tendencies towards a more mainstream style of indie, but they also possess the musical background to create an honest, return-to-roots type of record. Or, perhaps, they will continue to fuse together elements of both as they have on this ep…either way, they appear primed to excel. The six songs here portend the promise of great things to come. - Daily Local News

"Podcast Interview: Around the Woodstove w/ Barnaby Bright" - Around the Woodstove

"Podcast Interview: Around the Woodstove w/ Barnaby Bright" - Around the Woodstove

"New Release Rap: Barnaby Bright - Wake the Hero"

Barnaby Bright are Nathan and Rebecca Bliss, and their debut CD is called Wake the Hero ...

Indie Sounds: Wake the Hero ... where did the name come from?

Nathan: Wake the Hero is a call to wake the sleeping soul ... the part of us that has a deep connection with all that is around us, but that so many of us lose touch with due to pain, fear, bitterness or disillusionment.
IS: Come to think of it ... where did the name Barnaby Bright come from?

Nathan: Barnaby Bright is a medieval term for the summer solstice (the longest day of the year) which coincided with the feast day of Saint Barnabus, and so became known as Barnaby Bright. There is a popular limerick of the day that goes: "Barnaby Bright, Barnaby Bright! The longest day and the shortest night!"

Rebecca: We thought the name had a sort of magical, folk lore-ish quality - simultaneously dark yet light, which is kind of synonymous with our sound.

IS: Who performed on the album?

Rebecca: We were lucky to have some amazing local musicians play on this album, including Sean Dixon on drums, Craig Akin on bass and Sascha Groschang on cello. Nathan played guitars, thumb pianos, flutes, sang harmonies, glockenspiel, harmonium ... all the extraneous instruments. I sing most of the leads. Although he isn't on the record, guitarist Mark Marshall has become an important part of our live show.

IS: And who else was involved in its production?

Nathan: Well, I produced and arranged the album, and we were really excited to have Bryan Cook do the mixing. He mixed All Rise by Inara George, one of our favorite records of all time. He's also worked with Jack White, Dashboard Confessional, Nigel Godrich and many others. We did a lot of recording at our home studio, but the drums were done at SSLI in Long Island. The engineer there, Jonathan Castelli, gets great drum sounds. Our good friend and very talented artist Lesley Ash did all the illustrations.

IS: This is your first album. So how was the experience of recording, and was it what you expected?

Rebecca: Well, it was definitely expensive, which we both expected! We jumped into the recording process with no backing, no money, and no idea how we were going to pay for it all. We just decided that we had to do it, and hoped that somehow the money would just manifest ... that the universe would say "Yes! Make this record!" and provide for us. We were amazed, because that's exactly what happened!

Over the course of recording the album, we were contracted by NBC to compose four original promo spots for their summer line-up of shows. Not only did the money cover the cost of making the CD, but it was also a real blast to hear our music on national television ... especially a spot we did for ER, which premiered during the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics.

IS: Having gotten the debut done, what advice would you give another act embarking on their first album?

Nathan: Though all of the drums on our record were done in a professional studio, most of the rest was done in the comfort of our own home, which is not only cost effective, but also lends a very personal touch to the sound. Instead of paying exorbitant studio rates for recording, save the money for the mixing. The right mixing engineer can work magic.

Rebecca: Also, it's okay to let songs go. We started off with 15 songs, and only ended up putting 10 of them on the album. The ones that didn't make the cut are still good songs, but they just didn't fit with the vibe of the album. Maybe we'll release one or two of them as singles down the road.

IS: What's the elevator pitch for the album and its sound?

Rebecca: Oh man, I'm so bad at these. Nathan and I always joke because our personalities and even our approaches to songwriting are so different. I've got kind of a sunny, love-struck disposition, and I think my songs reflect that, while Nathan tends towards darker sounds and eerie themes. He's the "Barnaby" and I'm the "Bright."

Nathan: So imagine that John Lennon and Karen Carpenter fell in love, got married and had a baby named Barnaby Bright!

IS: When is the CD release party?

Rebecca: The CD release party is April 21st, 8pm at the Living Room. We're really excited to have a full band with strings ... we'll have a new song to perform and most likely a fun cover song that we've reworked. Oh, and I can't let the celebration pass without bringing some sort of homemade, delicious treat. My alter-ego is a super-baking, vegan sugar-maniac.

IS: How will the album be distributed ... physical, online?

Nathan: As we all know, most music these days is bought via digital distribution. However, it was really important to us that we have a nice physical CD as well. We've always enjoyed being able to read the lyrics and look at the album art while listening to our favorite records. So not only can you download the songs on iTunes, Rhapsody and Amazon, but physical CDs are also available through CD Baby, - Indie Sounds NY


"Wake the Hero" 2009
"Gravity" 2011
"The Longest Day" 2012



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, 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.