Name: Steve Barney
Town: Simsbury, CT
Hometown (if different from current town): Wethersfield, CT
At what age did you start playing guitar? Around 9, I think. My Dad had an old Martin model 2-17 that he tortured. When he wasn't home my older sister would take it out and make up little tunes on it. She'd make me turn around so I couldn't see what she was doing, then she'd play the tune and when she'd finished she wouldn't tell me how she'd done it. Drove me nuts, so I started grabbing the guitar and trying to get even. I really wanted to play drums, though.
First guitar: It was brown, smelled like very old plywood (which it was) and cost $5.00. My dad got my sister and me our own guitars so we'd leave the Martin alone. Hers cost $15.00. That pissed me off.
Early Influences: Leo Kottke made my head explode in 1971 when "Mudlark" came out. I remember walking through my bedroom with the radio on when an ad came on for that record and I just stopped dead. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I had no idea you could do that on a guitar, didn't even know that was an option. I was 15. His recording of "In Christ There Is No East or West" on "Greenhouse" led me to John Fahey and Takoma Records which, in turn, led to Rick Ruskin and Peter Lang. Those were the guys.
First gig: Playing in the main dining room of Wilson's Seafood Restaurant in Wethersfield, CT on Friday and Saturday nights. It was awful. I had to sit on the edge of a table - the owner wanted me up high so the diners, poor souls, could see the entertainment. I had 2 Radio Shack mics plugged into a huge Fender Vibroverb guitar amp for my PA. I did covers - Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt, Fraser & DeBolt, Eric Clapton, a strange repertoire.
Acoustic Guitars you own: A Martin SWOM - the "Smartwood" OM (or, as I like to call it, the "Crapwood" OM.) A great bargain. All but one of the 6-string songs on "Treeline" were done on it. It's usually tuned to open C. Also a used Martin OM-28 which I got in trade for a limited edition Martin HD-28 "Sing Out." It's got great tone but the truss rod is full-out and it's got a phantom buzz in it somewhere (I suspect the truss rod.) I also made the mistake of putting chubby frets on it and I don't like them. The OM-28 lives mostly in open D and D minor. My 12-string is a Guild JF-30 and also lives in open C. I spent years looking for a 12 string I could love, and this is it. Another great guitar value. I like stock guitars that are easily replaceable.
Favorite Guitar: I don't own it yet. I really want a Martin OM-18V. Every Christmas I give my girlfriend a big, toothy grin, but so far no dice. Also my older sister's second guitar, an all-mahogany Harmony Sovereign, and the Yamaha FG-140, one of the finest plywood guitars ever made. If either of those POS guitars were made today with wide fingerboards I'd snap 'em up.
Your style, and how you developed it: My current style is the result of nearly 40 years of confusion followed by 6 lessons from Howard Emerson. Howard changed everything. I had to stop taking lessons from Howard because I was suddenly writing so much that I didn't have time to work on my lessons.
Practice Regimen: I should have one but I don't. I work on songs. I play just about every day, even if just for 10 or 15 minutes. If I want to play well I have to play for 1 to 2 hours a day. That keeps me in shape.
Favorite Artist(s): In the order they occur to me: Bill Cooley, Leo Kottke, John Fahey, Phil Heywood, Roger Lasley, Alex Houghton, Franklin Taggart, Howard Emerson, Scott Sylvester, Buzz Turner, Ron Anthony, Rick Ruskin, Peter Lang, Manuel Barrueco, Christopher Parkening, Ry Cooder, Eric Clapton, Scott Tennant, Neil Young, Steve Stills, Roger McGuinn, Jim Hall…there's more.
Is there anything else you want people to know about you, your playing style or your views on today's music in general? Nope.
Check out Steve's website.