Barry Sides

Barry Sides


Barry Sides is ¼ Blues ¼ Americana ¼ Roots ¼ Irish whiskey. Take a bit of John Hammond, add a little Dylan & Petty, throw in some Leo Kotkee with a pinch of John Prine & Steve Earl and you have Barry Sides. He is a seductive and dangerous performing singer songwriter


I was born in Memphis and raised in Chicago. I grew up hearing my mother and her sisters singing and playing southern spirituals and what was then called hillbilly music. Growing up in Chicago I was also exposed to blues and folk music. I had the best of both worlds. I was exposed to the music and cultures of the North and the South. I think you can hear the influences of both in my music.

While still in high school I put together an all acoustic three-part harmony band called White Pony. We were very good especially for our age. We were so young. We had this manager who was about 10 years our senior who would get us gigs in all these clubs in Chicago and then down in Peoria. We weren’t even old enough to get in to the clubs but there we were playing in them. It was a great experience.

The house I grew up in was a few blocks in one direction from where Steve Goodman (City of New Orleans) lived and a few blocks in the other direction from where Jethro Burns (Homer & Jethro) lived. I ended up being great friends with Jethro’s son John. John Burns had this incredible band called Wildflower. I would go watch John’s band by myself as often as I could. I would just sit there and just soak it up. I was studying. John also played guitar in John Prine’s band and also recorded with Prine. I was very aware of these guys and what they were doing. I got it. I understood it and I wanted to be a part of it. They were all older than I was but I knew if they could do it then so could I. You can definitely hear the influence of those guys in some of my songs. There was also a guy who lived in my neighborhood who had written the song Abilene. I would hear that song on the radio. I was surrounded by people who were doing it, so at a very early age I figured I could do it as well.
I lived very close to a club called Amazing Grace, which was truly an amazing place. It had begun as a coffee house on the campus of Northwestern University, but moved off campus as it grew in size and stature. I spent so much time there that they eventually stopped charging me to get in. Weekly, Amazing Grace would feature acts like Randy Newman, Emmylou Harris, Richie Havens, Arlo Guthrie, John Prine, Jethro Burns and or Steve Goodman. Amazing Grace also featured the top Chicago folkies like Bryan Bowers, Jim Post, the Holstein Brothers, Bob Gibson, Bonnie Koloc and others. Again, it was like going to school. I soaked it up. I was studying every move they made.
I was really into acoustic music back then. There was something about seeing one person with just a guitar or sitting at a piano that really spoke to me. I saw it as being so intimate. No big noise to hide behind. It was just putting your soul out there. It was very raw and very naked. I was attracted to that.
Another club that was very close to my house back then was Biddy Mulligan’s. An Irish blues bar! I saw Muddy Waters, BB King, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, Hound Dog Taylor, Otis Rush, James Cotton and dozens of others. The stage was about ten feet from the bar so it was very up close and personal. It was very easy to just hang out with the acts when they were on breaks or after hours. Biddy’s is where I first met Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. One of my favorites to see there was Koko Taylor. I sat with Koko many times drinking whiskey and talkin’ the blues. Years latter she and I did a few shows together and we laughed about those times at Biddy Mulligan’s. Like me, Koko was born in Memphis and then lived in Chicago. I guess that was our connection. I love Koko and her old man Pops.
I loved Chicago but the winters there just killed me. I headed for the sunshine state as soon as I was able. I settled in the sleepy college town of Gainesville, Florida. I soon discovered that Gainesville had quite a musical family tree. I just couldn’t get over how many people in this small town played music. It was amazing to me! Everywhere I turned there was a guy who played mandolin, another who played fiddle, guitar players, singers, and songwriters. It seemed every person I met played something. Then I found out all these heroes of mine came out of Gainesville. Bernie Leadon who was in the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Eagles was from here. So was fellow Eagle Don Felder, Tom Petty and all the Heartbreakers, Stephen Stills, members of Blackfoot, and rock and roll pioneer Bo Diddley even calls Gainesville home. There must be something in the water. This little town produces some amazing talent. The cool thing too is that I have gotten to know some of those guys and have played with some as well. What’s even crazier is for every one who has made it there are dozens just as talented who haven’t. Folkies, Jazz heads, rockers…it’s amazing.
When I first moved to Gainesville, I was going out with Monica Leadon, who played guitar and who turned me on to bluegrass. I had of course heard bluegrass, but it was through Monica that I was really exposed to bluegrass first hand. She was one of twelve


Broken Hearts Broken Strings

Written By: Barry Sides

Broken hearts broken strings
Broken angel wings
Breaking chains along the way
Broken dreams again today
I'm breaking down again

Is there no end to this road
How many times can one heart be towed
I wish there was a AAA
For hearts that breakdown along the way
I'm breaking down again

I need a jumpstart for my heart
I need a love transfusion
My heart wont start

Broken words broken ties
Broken promises are only lies
Breaking up breaking down
Silence is just broken sound
I'm breaking down Again

Broken me broken you
Did I break your heart too
No more lovers only friends
Everything breaks in the end
I'm breaking down again

Memphis Morning Rain

Written By: Barry Sides

Looking out my window
Through the Memphis morning rain
Thinking about my baby
Is driving me insane

She's a thousand miles away
I feel a thousand kinds of pain
I'm looking out my window
Through the Memphis morning rain

Memphis morning rain
Falling down on me
Wash away my sorrow
And my misery
Take away my heartache
Wash away my pain
I'm looking out my window
Through the Memphis morning rain

Looking out my window
Now there's nothing there to see
Nothing seems to matter
Without her next to me
She told me it was over
Now there's nothing left to loose
I'm looking out my window
With the Memphis morning blues

Memphis morning rain
Falling down on me
Wash away my sorrow
And my misery
Take away my heartache
Wash away my pain
My tears are falling
Like the Memphis morning rain
I'm looking out my window
Through the Memphis morning rain

© 2007 Barry Sides


Barry Sides “Slippin’ Away”
Flying Pig Records 1281954
Currently out of print
Songs: Songs can be heard at

Waiters Song (Sides)
Walkin’ Blues (Johnson)
She (Parsons)
Slippin’ Away (Sides)
Kind Hearted Woman (Johnson)
Love in Vane (Johnson)
Can’t Be Satisfied (Morganfield)
New Orleans Debutante (Sides)
Oh Susannah (Foster)
Big Blue House (Sides)
Fishin’ Blues (Taj Mahall)
Riverboat Wheels (Sides)
Little Red Rooster (Dixon)
Clementine (Trad)

Barry Sides – Broken Hearts Broken Strings
Flying Pig Records FPCD 00002

Songs: Songs can be heard at

Excuse Me (Sides)
He Left Her (sides)
I Hate This (Sides)
Don’t Want Love (Sides)
Hurricane (Sides)
Caroline (Sides)
Broken Hearts Broken Strings (Sides)
Letters from Diane (Sides)
Your Ghost (Sides)
Memphis Morning Rain (Sides)
Lovin’ on Line (Sides)

Set List

My set list varies depending on the type of show and or venue I am playing.
A typical club set would include a number of my originals, some blues standards by Robert Johnson, Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters, some cover songs by Van Morrison, Towns Van Zandt, Gram Parsons, Hank Williams, some instrumental tunes similar to Leo Kotkee and possibly some traditional tunes like The Water is Wide and Oh Susannah. All cover tunes are my interpretations and although written by others become mine when done by me in my style.

I normally use 3 or more guitars on stage during my solo act. I will use an acoustic six string, a Dobro or resonator, a hollow body electric and possibly a baritone guitar. I also play harmonica’s on a neck rack.