William Barnes and The Southern Fried Gentlemen
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William Barnes and The Southern Fried Gentlemen

Montgomery, Alabama, United States | SELF

Montgomery, Alabama, United States | SELF
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The group's debut album is currently in production with a release date set for Fall 2011.



William Barnes plays a mean guitar. He has been doing so professionally across the Chitlin' Circuit since 1992 at the age of 14. Barnes has grown into an uncompromising artist, establishing a relevant, original voice on the guitar and developing his own style of experimental, soulful, pop-roots music. His new project, The Southern Fried Gentlemen, plays a mixture of psychadelic rock, jazz, Gospel, and blues, or post-psychedelic Southern soul music.  The group is currently finishing their first album and will be debuting new material in a town near you very soon.

William learned to play guitar in his bedroom as a ten year old kid in Montgomery, Alabama, listening to Blues records and making multitrack recordings on a dual-cassete deck.  Growing up in the shadow of the Civil Rights Movement and hailing from the town that produced Martin Luther King Jr, Nat King Cole, and Hank Williams, it is easy to see how Barnes became wrapped up in innovative, culturally significant music.  At the age of thirteen, an invitation from local friends Blues Old Stand (multi-racial, multi-generational, progressive, urban, funk-rock outfit) to sit in at the 1048 Jazz & Blues Club sparked a lifelong association and friendship, and gave Barnes the confidence and experience necessary to begin learning how to "jam."  By 1992 at the age of fourteen, he was on the road leading his own group, Far South Movement. 

By the age of twenty Barnes had become disillusioned with leading a traveling group, so he decided to pursue life as a professional for-hire musician and went on to study music composition, jazz guitar, and recording technology at several schools incuding Berklee College of Music. While in Boston at Berklee, William longed for the funky and fertile Southeastern music scene, so he returned to Alabama, committed to investing his energies back into the community that "reared him up" so well. During his twenties he split his time between composition, production, and performance and developed a growing love and skill for pedal steel, dobro, and music production.  Highlights of his nearly twenty years in the music business have included leading his own groups Far South Movement and "O.K.", picking bluegrass with legendary Bluesman Clarence Gatemouth Brown, session work for innovative modern artists like Oteil Burbridge and Snarky Puppy, and working as touring guitarist for iconic Southern Jam Bandleader Col. Bruce Hampton Ret.

He sites Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Wayne Krantz, The Beatles, Amahad Jamal, Jimmy Smith, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, B.B. King, Albert King, Albert Collins, Bootsy Collins, Bela Fleck, Muddy Waters, Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas, Meshell Ndgeocello, Steely Dan, The Band, The Wailers, The Meters, JJ Cale, James Brown, George Clinton, Jerry Garcia, Duane Allman, and Col. Bruce Hampton & The Aquarium Rescue Unit among his most critical influences. Barnes is still freelancing on the road and in the studio, but is shifting more energy towards playing shows and working on a record of post-psychedelic Southern soul music with his new project, The Southern Fried Gentlemen.  After twenty years in "the biz" and a decade of constant collaboration, William is finally debuting his own music. Be forewarned, this journeyman guitarist is on a mission to deliver maximum "Joy & Soul Per Square Note," and he brings it!