Doug Barber
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Doug Barber

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Band Folk Singer/Songwriter

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"Doug Barber Gets It"

The good life - put to music
By Susan Miller

Doug Barber, a long-time trumpet player and a high school music teacher, recently picked up the guitar and began writing songs and performing locally.
DOUG BARBER gets it. You know – the whole life thing.At ripe old middle age, he has it figured out.

Oh, you wouldn't suspect it by looking at him; he's Joe Average. The nice guy next door. The unassuming fellow in the line in front of you at Target. Your kid's favorite laid back high school teacher. The soft-spoken dad at the playground with his four beautiful, well-mannered children. The dependable, loving husband just living life in his nice middle class neighborhood.

It would be easy to underestimate Doug Barber because he seems so darn average. But, trust me, he's anything but.

Look beyond his average guy looks and laid back persona – listen to the words of his songs and you'll see it, too. Like I said, he gets it.

Most people know Doug as the current music teacher/band director at Seneca High School and the former music teacher/band director at Shawnee.

Championship-wise, he's had some great years and some so-so years. Student satisfaction-wise, he's been a consistent winner.

For Doug, who plays the trumpet, it's always been more about the kids and the music than the trophies and the plaques. As a teacher, he's the real deal. He's what teachers are supposed to be.

Under his quiet guidance, some amazing musicians have found their instrumental 'voices' as well as their way out of our wooded little corner of South Jersey and into a satisfying world of professional music beyond. And most of those musicians – the smart ones anyway – remember who they have to thank for that early inspiration.

Most people in Doug's position would be resting on their laurels about now. He and his wife, Patti, are busy raising their twin toddler girls as well as his two boys from a previous marriage.

He's sitting pretty in his tenured teaching job. Surely, most people in a similar position would kick back in their off hours. Lock the front door, close the curtains, turn on the TV, chill.
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But Doug, into his 40s now, is just hitting his stride. Like the students less than half his age whom he regularly pushes along, he's also trying out a new voice. Not long after his second marriage and the birth of his baby daughters, he picked up his long-neglected guitar and began to play. Listening to that newfound voice in his head, he also picked up a pen and began to write songs to accompany his strumming.

On an August evening, with a warm breeze softly blowing, Doug – wearing his school's out-for-the-summer scruffy beard – took to the stage at the Friday Night Cafe at the Gazebo at the Taunton Forge Shopping Center in Medford and belted out some Bruce Springsteen, some Lyle Lovett and some beautiful heart-touching stuff of his own.

Much like the man himself, his voice is nice – raspy yet tuneful, robust yet sweet, edgy yet earnest. It's a good voice – but the lyrics of his own songs – now that's where the real beauty of Doug Barber's music lies.

My personal favorite is "Gliding," ostensibly about watching kids have a carefree day of sledding, but really about a parent's nagging worries and about chasing away the reality that someday he'll have to let his kids go out into the world.

"When you've got something, you've got something to lose," he muses, then assuages those thoughts with "But today, they're gliding, gliding down." Push those worries about tomorrow away, live in the moment – that's his sweet, lyrical message to himself and to other parents.

I can't think of more poignant words to describe the conundrum of parents who struggle with wanting to protect their kids when they know they can't: "Loving your babies means letting them fall down and cry." In sledding and in life, how heart-wrenchingly true.

No simple light-hearted fare, these tunes; they're meaty and satisfying and chockfull of really poignant insights on topics from sneaking off on a picture perfect day to catch Opening Day of baseball to the tragedy of the murders of the little girls at the Amish Schoolhouse. ("A barn-raising in reverse" he calls the community's gathering to dismantle the schoolhouse where the tragedy took place.)

He marvels incredulously that the Amish families didn't seek revenge, but instead "prayed for the soul of the man who put their daughters in their graves." "They prayed, 'Lord help me to forgive.' They prayed for the lives that won't be lived. But the Every woman should part that knocks me out cold, is I just can't find a trace of it in my own soul."

He also pays tribute to his wife – his soulmate, obviously-in many of his tunes: "My baby, she likes old graveyards, she likes to think they've all gone home," he croons in one song, and in another: "Everybody needs a warm place to be, and I need you here with me." Every woman should have a husband who feels the way Doug obviously - Medford Central Record


Discography

An independent debut release "A Warm Place To Be" is set to be born on December 1st, 2007. The album contains 11 of Doug's compositions in solo and band settings.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Born, raised and eternally a Northeasterner, Doug is a new face on the singer/songwriter circuit. The songs on his new CD "A Warm Place To Be", are exactly that, "warm". Which is not to say, they will not, in turn, make you think, and find a connection with your Sunday morning coffee. Some of the influences are obvious, Tom Waits, John Hiatt, Bruce, Elvis Costello and even Dave Matthews. Others, like the subtleties and occasional complexities of jazz are less overt. And, some of the ideas and performance seem suprisingly original in these saturated times. "Now is my time. Time to enjoy songwriting and performance for myself", when asked about his experiences as a jazz trumpeter and a bass player in everything from country and roots, to dance hall music. "I feel like I have something of my own to say, and these songs are just the start."