Serious Sam Barrett
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Serious Sam Barrett

Leeds, England, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 2005 | INDIE

Leeds, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2005
Solo Folk Country


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"The Guardian (Pick of the week no.2)"

Old before his years country/folk fellow who mixes intricate John Fahey finger picking with confessional tales of dirty old Leeds. - Guardian Media Group

"The Guardian Newspaper (Pick of the Week)"

Disaffected urban folk/bluesman armed with a 12-string guitar, a bottleneck and a Pogues like approach to the tradition. - Guardian Media Group

"R2 (Rock n Reel) Magazine Feature and Interview"

It's a fact that we don't generally feature that many skateboarders in R2. But in West Yorkshire, a young man by the name of Serious Sam Barrett has been making such a name for himself, we thought we'd better find out why a skater-boy plays the blues.

"There have been a few skaters who have played acoustic stuff over the years," he explains. "Ray Barbee for one and Matt Hensley as well- from Flogging Molly. I know a bunch of skaters who play acoustic guitars and loads of them love folk music, not not so many of them go out gigging and stuff."

Despite a more skaterly appreciation for rock and metal, Barrett benefited, like many others from folkie parents, whose copious record collection - including the Dubliners, Davey Graham and the Incredible String Band - was his early learning centre, inspiring him to pick up a guitar at a young age.

"I've always played guitar, since I could get my arm round one, to be honest," he says. "Me and my brother used to get taken to a lot of folk gigs and festivals when we were little. I was really into blues as a kid, too and used to listen to Robert Johnson for hours. Just tripping out on how deep and gnarly it sounded. Also that movie Crossroads with Ralph Macchio. I just wanted to be that kid travelling around Mississippi playing in juke joints and stuff."

And this is something that has pretty much come to pass. Barrett has now undertaken five tours of the US, most frequently with the heavy-touring Florence, Alabama band The Pine Hill Haints, covering vast swathes of the country, especially in the South and the West. "The last tour I did was the best. I went all over the south, all through the desert, and all up the Pacific Northwest to Washington State. Thirty-two shows in all! I was touring with a Californian punk band called Kid Little who are also friends of the Haints, for a lot of those dates, and skateboarding every day."

Barrett's arrangement with the Haints has been reciprocal in bringing them over to the UK, and last year saw dates with with the Band's frontman Jamie Barrier, aka James the Fang, with a joint album, North Country Steed, on the Haints' homegrown label, Arkam Records.

"I actually first met the Haintsin Bradford," Barrett explains. "I was booked to warm up for them at the famous 1 in 12 anarchist punk club back in 2005. We were both playing traditional music and music influenced by old folk and country so we had a lot in common. Plus the singer, Jamie, rode a skateboard too, so we hit it off right away."

Barrett's UK releases come via the local YaDig? Records. "Leeds is so good for roots and blues music. So many amazing musicians here. there's also Gin house records that does some great stuff. So many artists and bands like Spirit of John, David Broad, X-Ray Cat Trio, too many to mention."

But, like some of the greats of British folk guitar, while Barrett is fascinated by the romanticism of Americana, he remains close to his Yorkshire roots, both in traditional material and original songs.

"I have recorded a few songs from Yorkshire and I love songs from round here so I suppose I've carried on the tradition in a small way. I like to write songs that talk about Yorkshire a lot but that's because it's what I know. I like to write songs in a rootsy country/rock n' roll style but put a bit of Yorkshire into it because then it's honest." - Hand to Mouth Publishing

"Razorcake Magazine Review of Serious Sam Barrett (Self Titled LP)"

Leeds’s Sam Barrett plays rootsy, bluegrassy, country music with an authenticity that makes it appeal to fans of the genre and people who might not ever think to put on a folk record. Smokin’ fingerpicking and catchy choruses; how can you go wrong? The recording is amazingly crisp with an undoubtedly live quality to it. You can feel it in the room. A perfect addition to the Arkam catalog. On a side note, a fellow named David Broad is the only other musician who plays on this record. In a garage in Sylmar, I once saw him play in a band, and they performed the most ripping version of “La Bamba” I’ve ever seen. It’s forever burnt into my psyche. –Daryl Gussin (Arkam) - Razorcake (USA)

"Artrocker Review"

Close to Home is the best British roots record I’ve heard in a long long time. It’s a glorious recreation of the classic ragged country blues and bluegrass sounds from across the water but at the same time, it’s firmly British. Sam’s from Yorkshire, he’s proud of it and he’s steeped this record in the county that he loves.

It’s heartfelt and it’s raw. It’s not killed by over production and sounds like the kind of awesome contemporary roots music coming out of Jas Mathus’ Delta Recording Service.

Sam bashes classic tune after classic tune on Stella his 12 string resonator, with passion and care. The original songs sit comfortably side by side with the covers. There’s no lazy singer-songwriting or hiding behind ‘alt’ folk tags.

The vocals are whisky rough perfect and the lyrics are sharp. On Lonely Night at JoJos Sam captures the despair of being smack in the middle of a fakester scene: "trendy braces, worn out faces, trying so hard to look cool, you remind me of the kids that didn’t ride skateboards, still used to carry their skateboards to school… you didn’t give a damn about music, just wanted to tell me about who you know"

If you have any kind of interest in acoustic tunes or bands with a country tinge, then you should buy this record. It’ll help you understand why the Observer Monthly shiny faux folk crowd are a big pile of shit. You’ll never listen to Newton Faulkner again.

Read more:
- Artrocker

"Vintage Guitar LP Review"

Barrett plays rousing pub folk originals with a country and western/rock and roll heart. Most of the tunes are just Barrett and his 60’s Harmony Stella 12 string. Pete Carlill’s lapsteel on “Al’s Song” and “Heather” further brightens one of the best cuts on an endlessly playable delight from beginning to end. - Rick Allen

"Acoustic Magazine (UK) LP Review"

Deliciously home-grown, this is a rewarding collection of songs that could well renew your faith in underground folk scenes. This stripped-down and raw album is riddled with the gritty reality of the artist’s Northern life and makes no apologies. With heartfelt ballads such as “Heather” and “The Wild Goose”, carried by a chrystal clear 12 string guitar and occasional guest appearances from friends, the distinction between what is original and what is traditional will soon blur. - Oyster House

"+1 Magazine Review"

A firm favourite of ours for a couple of years, Leeds’ Serious Sam Barrett manages to walk the right side of the often very tight line between reworking a well known foreign genre and style of music into something of your own, and second rate parody. Using traditional American folk and country as his starting point, Barrett has created a trans Atlantic hybrid, a fifth or sixth generation of the original which references and speaks directly of and to us Brits, here and now. Or Yorkshirecana as he so eloquently sums it up. So instead of tales of outlaws, moonshine and prospecting, you get tales of sheep in Skipton and past girlfriends pinching Buddy Holly records. By eck it’s a truly triumphant debut album from the man with the 12 string resonator. - Factory Media

"Blues Matters Magazine LP Review"

Serious Sam has come a long way from the moment when I met him for the first time just under a year ago, or at least I can only assume that this is the case. “Close to Home” is one of those rare treasures that make sense in more than one dynamic; because of this I will try my best to lay them all out for you, the reader. ‘Lay a White Rose’ opens the LP as a musically dense track, filled with an optimistic understanding of death. Barrett’s self confessed ‘pop song’, ‘The Lullaby of Leeds’, out smarts all of its rivals in just one line (“And I hope you can get into me”). ‘The Female Drummer’ remains my firm favourite amongst Barrett’s traditional rearrangements. ‘Al’s Song’ is so lyrically perfect (written by a skateboarder chum about the demise of a friendship) that the delivery needs nothing more than its incredible lap steel to make it a stand-out in an album full of them. ‘So Near’ can be seen to be slightly lacking in comparison to the track it follows but its wisdom shines through. ‘Heather’ and ‘Lonely Night at JoJo’s’ share the similar themes of regret and women but contrast so heavily in their delivery. The former relaxes into the familiar rocked up format whereas the latter pours out into an apathetic portrait of one of those nights where the darkness couldn’t get any better no matter how much drink is drunk. If all of that proved that Barrett has become a master of his craft, the final three songs, ‘The Yorkshire Tup’, ‘A Lish Young Buy A Broom’ and ‘The Wild Goose’, are proof of his fine and delicate delivery of the songs which themselves have been carried through the generations. - Worldwide Magazine Distribution Ltd

" live review"

Serious Sam Barrett, a man so talented he'll never be famous; he's simply too good for the fleeting, showy, image-based taste of fair-weather music fans that make up 99% of the UK population.

He came on with a twelve-string and a mike, and for half an hour sang songs that took you far away from pretentious girls in skimpy outfits, traffic, over-priced drinks, congestion and practically anything else to do with London. Instead, memories of classic Westerns, the stillness of an epic landscape disrupted only by the thin line of rising smoke from the home-grown tobacco burning in the barrel of an oak pipe, tall grass surrounding your vision as you lie still staring at the blue sky. Oh yeah, and sheep.

Hailing from Yorkshire, Barrett's musical roots have clearly been defined by folk and blues from both sides of the pond. Traditional travelling folk singers across the country as well as staple acts like Steeleye Span and Ewan MacColl may all be counted as influences to this man's unique yet traditional sound. His exceptional picking leads to a smooth yet raw background to the folk drawl he uses that Bob Dylan popularised so effectively in the 60s.

The audience couldn't help but be captivated; the predictable but catchy songs demanded that much. Of the numbers he played, half were traditional folk songs he had re-arranged, the other half being original compositions. Such is Barrett's ability to weave humorous, insightful yet charming and personal tales of drinking, sailors, lost love, growing pains, and of course sheep, that it's almost impossible to know which ones were which. On the whole an excellent outing for a rising star in the folk world. -

"Mono Magazine Review"

Six Trax here so arguably it's a mini album. Though recorded in Leeds and Bradford it's pure and authentic-sounding roots Americana.

The mind blowing Tongue Tied Bluesconjures the ghost of Mississippi John Hurt and could've come straight out of Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music (Wherein lie the ancestors of every song you know, making it the must-have item for all y'all out there in musicland)

Track two, Stella, ses Sam still stood in late nineteen-twenties Yank farmland but sounding a tad less bluesey - more poor white than black...think Louisiana ajun meets Appalachian bluegrass. Then comes Dying Bed which is back to Black (As they say in the winehouse) and every shade of blues.

Amazing stuff! Sam's seriously speaking my favorite musical language and with a fluency that I LURVE!

Fourthly cs a stormingly fast picked, folksyand mournful version of Rolling in My Sweet Baby's Arms, traditional fare that's been claimed by Buck Owens and covered by everyone from Flatt and Scruggs to Dylan (with the Grateful Dead). Let's talk finger-in-the-ear UK folk. My feeling is that it's much improved if you stick one finger in each ear and scream loudly until it's over. So good as they are, I'm less keen on the last two banjo's tracks. The first is Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy, a seafaring Ballad which sails far too fucking close to the treacherous shallows of whining nasal pub-room, folk club crap...but manages to maintain just enough distance to stay afloat.

Last up's The Foggy Dew, a slow English Ballad (with which Burl Ives had a US hit in the forties) that's only salvaged here by being lent an Irish-American feel, Sam seriously sparkles when he brings his brilliant take on Stateside pre-WWII string-driven sounds, straight to twenty first century Yorkshire, Treasure him for that rich uniqueness - unknown

"Youcrazydreamers LP Review"

first wrote about Sam here. Since that time he’s been on a successful UK tour and has also now finished recording his second album, close to home. Not actually out for another couple of months or so on Leeds’ yadig records, it’s an album of original and traditional songs mostly about Yorkshire, Sam’s home county, but unless you know before listening which are the traditional tracks you would never guess as Sam’s music is a complete nod towards that sound . Well, perhaps apart from Lonely night at JoJo’s, a song about wanting to be anywhere but JoJo’s in London’s Soho district where it’s full of posing, coke snorting networking types only there to try and look cool pretending to dig the latest scene. Living in Brighton I know exactly the type he means, they’re normally the ones talking all the way through the gig louder than anyone else.

Lay a white rose, which incidentally is the emblem of Yorkshire is a perfect and brilliant fast paced start to the album all played majestically on his twelve string guitar, Stella, in which Sam tries to sum up what it was like being brought up in Yorkshire and his pride of being so, he succeeds.

The pace slows a little for The Lullaby Of Leeds of which Sam says “As much as I adore folk and roots music I adore Buddy Holly and The Ramones too. I tried to write a pop song that people could sing along to” Well with the extremely catchy chorus “she’s the kinda girl I’d like to sing to, she’s the kinda girl that I’m bound to cling to, she’s the kinda trouble that i like to get into and I hope she’d like to get into me” it definitely has you singing along that’s for sure, great stuff and a highlight of the album for me along with the afore mentioned Lonely night at JoJo’s.

A great fun track on the album is The Yorkshire Tup which is apparantly about a massive sheep that seem to be commonplace in Addingham, the part of Yorkshire where Sam was brought up but please don’t let me give you the impression that you need to be from Yorkshire or even know where Yorkshire is to enjoy these brilliant songs because you don’t. I’m not from the Mississippi delta but can still dig the blues from and about that region. It’s the story’s, the passion and the remarkable playing that brings these songs to life. Basically, anyone who is a fan of old folk/blues that was made yesteryear like Charlie Patton, any of the blind boys Mctell, Johnson etc, or the skiffle of Lonnie Donegan will love Sam’s music. For a more modern day comparison perhaps look towards the like of Charlie Parr. There’s a late night drinking feel to this album, I could imagine sitting in a remote Yorkshire pub with the huge sheep roaming around, a few locals singing into the early hours drinking some local ale and maintaining all that is traditional about this kind of music, singing and playing the way they are meant to be done so. I love those kind of nights which are sadly less and less frequent now as many of these pubs and areas have become weekend homes for the rich. Perhaps there’s still a few in Yorkshire, who know? Sam? I know there’s still some of these places in Ireland where I’m certain Sam’s music would go down a treat.

There’s enough croakiness in Sam’s voice to suggest he’s drank plenty of whisky in his time and had a few late nights but unlike those fakers at JoJo’s, Sam is the real deal, he’s serious.

Some guest musicians on this album worth checking out are Pistol Pete Carlill and David Broad. Both from Yorkshire and can often be seen playing alongside Sam.

For now no downloads available but you can listen to a couple of tracks in the music player until I get permission to put one or two up perhaps nearer or just after the official release. I will also let you’s know when the album is released but for now there’s a few tracks you can grab from

"La Grange Review"

Here's someone to get excited about. Serious Sam Barrett plays rough and raw heartflet bluegrass music. It's the music of hard drinking mountain men, except Sam's from Yorkshire.

Sense of place comes through loud and proud in these songs, and Sam sings in an honest northern accent without hamming it up. This brings an authenticity to his music so necessary in this genre. It's not po-faced or purist though, it's just right and it makes his songs all the more wonderful.

Sam calls his music 'Yorkshirecana' and I can't think of a more apt description.


"Sandman Magazine EP Review"

The Yorkshire Rambler' sounds like a record crafted
out of too many late nights in folk clubs, and too
many slugs from a whiskey bottle when back at home.
Not because this, "Serious" Sam Barrett's debut release,
is a sketchy, ramshackle affair - although it does sound
gloriously raw - but because it's melancholic, more than
a little anguished, and deals largely with heartbreak
and drinking in equal measure. This ten inch is also
born of an unhealthy preoccupation with folk, blues
and country music; of the six tracks, three are traditional
songs that Barrett has turned his hand to arranging
and three are his own compositions - between them
they span British folk, blues and country. Heartier praise
cannot really be given to Sam's songwriting than by saying
you'd be hard pressed to work out which of the
songs were his, and which were old. His writing is certainly
rooted in the traditions he adores, but all three of
his own songs sound like they too could become classics
handed down to generations that follow. The real
heart of the record though comes from Sam's guitar
playing - fluid, intricate but also suitably rough and
ready. His voice sounds tarnished from too much smoke
and booze, but the coarseness only helps to aid the
emotive quality of the songs themselves.
- Independant


The Yorkshire Rambler EP (2008)
Close To Home (2009)



Serious Sam Barrett is a solo acoustic singer songwriter from West Yorkshire, UK. His style draws on a vast range of traditional idioms as well as Rock n' Roll and Country to create his own unique sound. His songwriting contains echoes of the great blues masters such as Bukka White and Blind Willie Mctell but also of American folk and country artists such as the Carter Family, George Jones and Johnny Cash. Raised in the English folk tradition, Sam also draws heavily on English, Irish and Scottish folk music and arranges his own unique versions of traditional songs taking influence from such luminaries as Ewan Mcoll, Tim Hart and the Watersons. More recently Sam has been concentrating on songwriting and his current material contains elements of country and pop whilst maintaining the raw style and delivery he is known for.
.. Sam is known for his direct, uncompromising heartfelt live performances and has pursued a remarkably busy gig schedule since embarking on a solo career in 2005. Sam is as comfortable playing in folk clubs as he is in font of rock and punk audiences and his fan base is composed of music lovers from the folk, blues, country and punk scenes. Sam has developed a strong following across England and beyond, having toured the USA 4 times with the Pine Hill Haints (K Records) of North Alabama.


Band Members