Rick Barry
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Rick Barry

Asbury Park, New Jersey, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2005 | INDIE

Asbury Park, New Jersey, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2005
Solo Americana Singer/Songwriter

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"Rick Barry ... Shrinking the Pond"

He was pulled off a stage for playing a song that was deemed “not America friendly” last September. Then in November, he won his third Asbury Music Award, this time as “Top Acoustic Act”. In between, his song “Courage for a Rainy Day” was posted on Neil Young’s website as one of the “Top Songs of the Times”. Oh, and he also won the grand prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest last year.

So how did the provocative songwriter Rick Barry get into so much trouble, and win so much acclaim, at such a young age? The Jersey-born and raised Barry says he was “…just like any other kid, singing into their hair brush and ripping guitar solos a broom. I wanted to be a rock star for as long as I can remember.” He put down the broom, and picked up a real guitar for the first time in the early nineties. The Seattle music scene had blown up, and in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s death, Rick found himself strumming Screaming Trees and Mudhoney tunes. But it wasn’t until he got his own acoustic guitar for Christmas, together with a Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits cd, that he began to write his own songs.

By Rick’s own admission, those early songs were not much more than recycled folk melodies with sophomoric lyrics. It was when he discovered artists like Leonard Cohen, Pedro the Lion, Ani DiFranco, and Tom Waits that he began to find his own voice, and to write songs that he found tolerable. Despite all of the musical influences, he still cites human emotion as his number one inspiration. “Melancholy, lust, love, heartbreak, all of the hardly bearable frustrations that make us human, that is what inspires my songs the most.”

Although he’s been writing and performing for several years, it wasn’t until the last year or so that Rick felt comfortable about making political statements in his work. He feels ashamed now that he listened to those who advised him to stay politically neutral so that he would not alienate any of his potential audience, and thus hurt his chances of being a successful songwriter.
Eventually he decided to speak his mind, and he says that the decision was an easy one. After two years of writer’s block, he had written a song called “A Stupid American Song”. The lyrics contain the very taboo “c” word, and friends and family told him that no one would listen to a song with that word in it, and that he would anger a lot of people. “I simply decided at that moment that I didn’t care any more. Attempting to write music for other people is what kept me from writing a decent song for two years and I couldn’t live like that any longer,” Rick says.

Rick’s first gig in earnest was at The Saint, an Asbury Park landmark that has been an incubator for many national and local artists. It was while playing at The Saint a few years later that Rick played “A Stupid American Song”, despite management fears that he might offend the audience. But he was determined to finally be himself, and by the time he had finished playing the song, the whole crowd had embraced it. “It’s pretty ironic that the fans welcomed me most once I stopped caring what they thought so much. Yet, it’s hard to say whether I would have had the strength to continue writing in such a manner without their support,” Rick adds.

Scott Stamper, owner of The Saint, says, “Rick Barry has been playing at The Saint for about seven years. When I first saw him there was a quirkiness that told me that there was something special going on with this artist. I’ve watched him grow as a performer, and as a person. He writes about topical matters, which I think is important for any present day songwriter. He’s a painter of the musical form.”

Of course there are drawbacks to speaking your mind. Last September, Rick was playing a benefit show for a local Elks club (and donating all of his cd sales money from the evening to the Elks veteran’s fund) when he was pulled off the stage because his award-winning song “Courage for a Rainy Day” was thought to be “not America friendly”. The fact is that the song is a tribute to the bravery of our military, while at the same time attacking the corporate interests that generated the Iraq War, and the war profiteers who are gaining from the sacrifice of our brave soldiers. After Rick issued a press release defending his song and his performance of it, he began to get mail through his MySpace site (www.myspace.com/rickbarryband). Most of it was supportive, but there were also hateful and insulting e-mails that cost Rick a few nights of sleep. One man said that Rick was “nearly as bad as the terrorists”. “Can you imagine that? Just for playing a song?” Rick asks.

The future looks bright for the young songwriter. Recently he has joined forces with eight-time Asbury Music Award winners Days Awake for a series of shows. “Over the past few years, the members of Days awake and I have shared a mutual admiration and appreciation for each other’s music, so when the opportunity was presented to me to perform my songs with them it wa - East Coast Rocker (cover story)


"Rick Barry "A Night In Progress""

"The man could write brilliant new songs in his sleep."

Gary Wien - asburymusic.com - asburymusic.com


"A Jersey Junket"

"The treat this time was singer/acoustic-guitarist Rick Barry, who played powerful, sometimes political, songs in the key of mournful, accompanied by (Joe) Harvard on pedal steel."

Jim Sullivan - Boston Phoenix 1-8-08


"Badass Hall of Fame, 2008 Edition"

Rick Barry Ð Barry has in a few years done more to benefit local performers, venues and charities than most could hope to pull of in a lifetime. If national success was determined by selflessness alone, this guy wouldÕve flipped off Rolling Stone long ago.

Steve Bove - The Rhythm Room, Asbury Park Press - Asbury Park Press


"A Jersey Junket"

"The treat this time was singer/acoustic-guitarist Rick Barry, who played powerful, sometimes political, songs in the key of mournful, accompanied by (Joe) Harvard on pedal steel."

Jim Sullivan - Boston Phoenix 1-8-08


"Rick Barry's "Night In Progress""

RICK BARRY AND HIS “NIGHT IN PROGRESS”

By M.C. O’Connor - The Rag

Now a monthly show series, Rick Barry’s Night In Progress at The Saint in Asbury Park is getting rave reviews from both the artists involved and the audiences who attend. In the past few months Rick has invited the most talented of local artists to come to The Saint and play a set of their newest and in most cases, never before heard material. A novel idea, Rick’s inspiration for a Night In Progress came from a conversation with Saint co-owner, Scott Stamper. After hearing Rick play a set of originals, including his best hits, “Courage For A Rainy Day,” and “A Stupid American Song,” Stamper thought he’d really like to hear Rick play some songs he’d not yet heard. “The Saint loves to hear our local artists create on stage.” Stamper says. “I thought it would be cool to hear some Rick Barry songs that I’ve never heard before and I said to him, ‘What if you did a whole new set of original songs in 3 weeks.’ and Rick went for the idea.” Rick took this idea and ran with it. He’s got years worth of songs already written that he could have played at his next show. Instead Rick decided to one up Stamper and said, “Give me three weeks and I’ll write a half an hours worth of new material, songs that nobody’s heard.” Rick hadn’t been playing new material at his shows and Scott’s challenge forced him to sit down and write songs that he wouldn’t necessarily have written. Rick lived up to the dare, wrote the new material and played his show at The Saint on November 2nd. It was that night the idea for Night In Progress was born.


“I decided that I wanted to challenge my friends,” Rick said. “And put them through the same torture that I went through trying to write a half an hour set of new songs in a month.” The next show Rick invited Val Emmich, Tony Tedesco, Keith Monacchio and Joe Harvard to the challenge. “I have friends who are preparing for new albums and friends who haven’t written a song in six months and are trying to work on new material.” Rick said. “I figured Night In Progress was a good way to force them to work. If worse comes to worse they could throw it all out at the end of the night.” Some of the artists involved have written songs just for this show, and some play material that they’ve previously been working on. But as Rick has with “Alantis” and “Audrey There You Are,” many have come away with a few keepers.

The show is played to a listening room audience, who are asked to remain silent while the artists perform their newly written material. Not only does this allow for the artists to be more comfortable on stage performing new material, it allows for the audience to digest what they’re hearing. It’s crucial to the concept of Night In Progress that the crowd be silent. What they’re hearing are songs that in some cases haven’t been played to an audience and never will be again. Rick says, “I write songs specifically for this show and I only play them at Night In Progress. The only time you’ll hear them is if you’re at that particular show and I think that happens with all of the artists involved. They play stuff that they wrote just to fill the half hour quota. These songs are meant for that place and time. If you’re not there to hear the artist play that song that night, chances are you’ll never hear it again.” An innovative concept, Night In Progress has been received well by all involved. The audiences at the last two shows have been so engrossed with the amount of talent and creativity happening on stage that you could hear a pin drop. Having the show played to a listening room, the audience is able to walk away stimulated and inspired.

The artists who’ve been involved have had nothing but positive things to say about their experiences playing Night In Progress.

“Night In Progress is a great way for writers to work the kinks out, in their new material. See what works and what doesn't. I also think it's nice for the audience to see the progression of a song. From it's infancy stage, various live performances of the song over the next year, to the final recorded version.”

-Keith Monacchio

“When Rick asked me to be a part of his new series I said sure, then quickly forgot about it. Six weeks later... and three days before the show... I still hadn't written anything. To say I take a LONG time writing new songs is a huge understatement but somehow I managed to do four in two days. They were ragged when I did them but since then I've learned to live inside them and they'll be on the next CD. I never would have done this on my own. A big thanks to Rick for coming up with the concept and for inviting me to be a part of it. It's a great honor to be included with so many people I admire and respect and to even be on the same bill with Rick, Tony Tedesco, and Arlan Feiles made it a very cool night.”

-George Wirth

“Night In Progress is a very good idea in that it provides an artist with a safety zone in which to try - The Rag


"Rick Barry's "Night In Progress""

RICK BARRY AND HIS “NIGHT IN PROGRESS”

By M.C. O’Connor - The Rag

Now a monthly show series, Rick Barry’s Night In Progress at The Saint in Asbury Park is getting rave reviews from both the artists involved and the audiences who attend. In the past few months Rick has invited the most talented of local artists to come to The Saint and play a set of their newest and in most cases, never before heard material. A novel idea, Rick’s inspiration for a Night In Progress came from a conversation with Saint co-owner, Scott Stamper. After hearing Rick play a set of originals, including his best hits, “Courage For A Rainy Day,” and “A Stupid American Song,” Stamper thought he’d really like to hear Rick play some songs he’d not yet heard. “The Saint loves to hear our local artists create on stage.” Stamper says. “I thought it would be cool to hear some Rick Barry songs that I’ve never heard before and I said to him, ‘What if you did a whole new set of original songs in 3 weeks.’ and Rick went for the idea.” Rick took this idea and ran with it. He’s got years worth of songs already written that he could have played at his next show. Instead Rick decided to one up Stamper and said, “Give me three weeks and I’ll write a half an hours worth of new material, songs that nobody’s heard.” Rick hadn’t been playing new material at his shows and Scott’s challenge forced him to sit down and write songs that he wouldn’t necessarily have written. Rick lived up to the dare, wrote the new material and played his show at The Saint on November 2nd. It was that night the idea for Night In Progress was born.


“I decided that I wanted to challenge my friends,” Rick said. “And put them through the same torture that I went through trying to write a half an hour set of new songs in a month.” The next show Rick invited Val Emmich, Tony Tedesco, Keith Monacchio and Joe Harvard to the challenge. “I have friends who are preparing for new albums and friends who haven’t written a song in six months and are trying to work on new material.” Rick said. “I figured Night In Progress was a good way to force them to work. If worse comes to worse they could throw it all out at the end of the night.” Some of the artists involved have written songs just for this show, and some play material that they’ve previously been working on. But as Rick has with “Alantis” and “Audrey There You Are,” many have come away with a few keepers.

The show is played to a listening room audience, who are asked to remain silent while the artists perform their newly written material. Not only does this allow for the artists to be more comfortable on stage performing new material, it allows for the audience to digest what they’re hearing. It’s crucial to the concept of Night In Progress that the crowd be silent. What they’re hearing are songs that in some cases haven’t been played to an audience and never will be again. Rick says, “I write songs specifically for this show and I only play them at Night In Progress. The only time you’ll hear them is if you’re at that particular show and I think that happens with all of the artists involved. They play stuff that they wrote just to fill the half hour quota. These songs are meant for that place and time. If you’re not there to hear the artist play that song that night, chances are you’ll never hear it again.” An innovative concept, Night In Progress has been received well by all involved. The audiences at the last two shows have been so engrossed with the amount of talent and creativity happening on stage that you could hear a pin drop. Having the show played to a listening room, the audience is able to walk away stimulated and inspired.

The artists who’ve been involved have had nothing but positive things to say about their experiences playing Night In Progress.

“Night In Progress is a great way for writers to work the kinks out, in their new material. See what works and what doesn't. I also think it's nice for the audience to see the progression of a song. From it's infancy stage, various live performances of the song over the next year, to the final recorded version.”

-Keith Monacchio

“When Rick asked me to be a part of his new series I said sure, then quickly forgot about it. Six weeks later... and three days before the show... I still hadn't written anything. To say I take a LONG time writing new songs is a huge understatement but somehow I managed to do four in two days. They were ragged when I did them but since then I've learned to live inside them and they'll be on the next CD. I never would have done this on my own. A big thanks to Rick for coming up with the concept and for inviting me to be a part of it. It's a great honor to be included with so many people I admire and respect and to even be on the same bill with Rick, Tony Tedesco, and Arlan Feiles made it a very cool night.”

-George Wirth

“Night In Progress is a very good idea in that it provides an artist with a safety zone in which to try - The Rag


Discography

"Small Town Politics"- debut LP released August 2005
"A Stupid American Song"- Single, released October 2005
"Summer Songs"- acoustic demos, released November 2005
"Declaration of Codependence"-released 2007
"This Antedilluvian World" - Feb 6, 2009
"Annie, In Stereo"- June, 2011 (single)
"A Cautionary Tale"- July, 2011 (Single)
"Our Mutual Friend"- September, 2011 (single)

"Tim's Song"- April, 2013 (Single)

"This Postdiluvian World"- July, 2013

"Removing The Stitches (Feat. Allie Moss)"- December, 2013

Photos

Bio

Rick Barry's voice is as honest as a drink at a bar with an old friend. His lyrics are raw, unapologetic poetry that reach well beyond his years. Evolving from folk music, into a sound that could only be described as "neo folk," he has truly reinvented himself and has been met with rave reviews in cities across North America.

What sets Barry worlds apart from other songwriters is his complete lack of censorship. Where others use metaphors and pleasantries, he speaks with unadultered candor. He has no limits, from politics to death, to the ills of society and the human element; he delivers a truth so bare, it's almost innocent.

Known for his uncensored melancholia, the "neo-folk" Asbury Park-based singer/guitarist Rick Barry explores the terrain of failed love affairs and paralyzing self-doubt . And while his resume boasts numerous awards and accolades such as winning the grand prize for his song "Courage for a Rainy Day" in the John Lennon Song-Writing Contest among others, he dwells not in the past, but is constantly looking to the future of what his music will become

A song can come from anywhere, Barry reflects. One word, one linethe trick is that you have to get to a pen/piano/guitar and turn it into something fast. He credits Bob Dylan as his earliest influence: Hearing his greatest hits at my uncle's BBQ when I was 14 or 15 is what made me get an acoustic guitar and start writing my own music. More recently, the honesty and heartbreak of David Bazan have absolutely inspired me, as have Josh Ritters fantastical stories of such detail and beauty, Barry notes, it's as if you were seeing it all for yourself..

In addition to accolades for his music, Rick has also received notice for the conception of his award-winning Night in Progress Series, which challenges songwriters to pen a full set of new, never-before-heard music in one month's time. These nights, originating at The Saint in Asbury Park, NJ, have hosted local as well as national talent and the challenge has spawned songs recorded and released by such names as A Great Big World, Allie Moss, April Smith and val Emmich to name a few.