July 3, 2006

Southern comfort: Jamie Barnes crafts songs of consolation and nostalgia

Jamie BarnesJamie Barnes’ unique brand of bedroom folk songs has earned him significant and widespread attention. A visit to his Web site (www.jamiebarnes.net) shows reviews from all the Louisville newspapers grouped alongside the All Music Guide and various newspapers clippings from places like the Netherlands, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Spain and so on. Additionally, he has recorded an over-the-phone concert for a radio station in Rhode Island. This performance is available as streaming audio on Barnes’ site and is an interesting look into Barnes’ music and personality. He nervously talks about his albums, describes the color selections in his house and apologizes for his cats that come into his room during the recording. But when he sets down his phone and picks up his guitar, it’s magic.Barnes continues to play locally, and his songs about life’s ups and downs, told with a healthy serving of fire-and-brimstone religious references, never fail to leave the audience a little pensive and a little in awe. Perhaps it’s Barnes’ voice, an almost whispered but still entirely heartfelt plead that does it. Or it could be the precise and earnest finger-picked guitar. Really, it’s the combination of the two, gently creeping up on the listener, only to call up long forgotten childhood fears of a vengeful, all-knowing God that puts listeners into a bittersweet lull that simultaneously reminds us of life’s painful moments while providing the comfort we so desperately need. I imagine that Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard may have written “I Will Follow You into the Dark” after stumbling across a recording of Barnes’ music, although that really sells Barnes’ material short.Besides the radio show, Barnes’ has The Paper Crane EP available for download on his site and two records available for purchase. He plays frequently in the Louisville area, including a performance this Saturday at Old Louisville Coffee House with Warshington, Olympia and Alligator, Alligator. Jazz has become a sort of universal language that is understood and accepted all over the globe. It is performed and enjoyed just about everywhere, but with local variations not unlike localized accents and dialects in speech. The University of Louisville has brought jazz teachers and students from around the world together in an attempt to learn from one another.The Louisville Free Public Library realized that it would be a terrible missed opportunity if jazz musicians from all over the world convened in Louisville and never gave any public performances, so they quickly set out to remedy that. Norman Morton, one of the LFPL reps responsible for bringing the International Jazz Café to the library, said, “It’s one of those kind of things that fit with the new mission of the library, which is that we’re trying to let the public know that we’re not just all about books. We’re about information and understanding and exposure to the world.”There are two performances left in the series, one tomorrow night that features Russian performers Aleksey Badyanov, Oleg Golyunov, Zhanna Llmer and Roman Stolyar, and one next Thursday with Brazilian musicians Renato Vasconcellos, Marcos Siqueira Cavalcante and Bruno Pegoraro. These performances will be held in the Main Library’s Centennial Room from 7-9 p.m. And, incredibly, they’re free (no tickets needed; just show up). Additionally, there will be an ongoing exhibit displaying some of the most important American jazz albums from the biggest names in jazz. This exhibit will be held in the library’s Bernheim Gallery.Speaking of unique ideas, Pete Yorn has come up with an interesting way to promote his current tour and soon-to-be-released new album, Nightcrawler: At every stop along this tour — the acoustic “You & Me” tour — Yorn will perform at local independent record stores before his actual concerts. In Louisville, he will play Friday evening at ear X-tacy before a gig at Phoenix Hill Tavern.  That’s not so uncommon, but Yorn’s marketing plan goes further. At each record store, he promises set lists that will “uniquely vary” from all other in-store performances. Each performance will be recorded as a part of a limited-edition live CD series, and each will be sold exclusively at the store where it was recorded. So ear X-tacy will soon have Pete Yorn’s Live From ear X-tacy CD available. Additionally, a limited-edition EP, Westerns, will be given to anyone pre-ordering Yorn’s upcoming album.With the gimmicks, it’s easy to overlook the actual music, but Yorn promises the new record is a continuation of a musical trilogy that he started with his popular debut musicforthemorningafter. Contact the writer at leobeat@leoweekly.com