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Artist of the Month for January 2005: Steve Barney

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.
If you are a guitarist with a cd out and would like to be featured here please contact me.

AOTM Archives:

August 2008 - Danny Combs
March 2006 - Bryan Clark
Februry 2006 - Darin Leong
January 2006 - Andy McKee
December 2005 - Don Alder
November 2005 - Doug Young
October 2005 - Nancy Conescu
August - September 2005 - Warren Greig
July 2005 - Ian Melrose
June 2005 - Roger Lasley
May 2005 - Jim Tozier
April 2005 - Jessica Papkoff
March 2005 - Todd Habekost
February 2005 - Michael Hewett
January 2005 - Steve Barney
December 2004 - Tony McManus
November 2004 - Chris Newman
October 2004 - Kevin Kastning
September 2004 - Rick Duke
August 2004 - El McMeen
June-July 2004 - Charles David Alexander
May 2004 - Tony Capri
April 2004 - Shane Simpson
March 2004 - Bill Cooley
February 2004 - Greg Meckes
January 2004 - Gary Leek
December 2003 - Ernie Hawkins
November 2003 - Keith Knight
October 2003 - Jaquie Gipson
September 2003 - Chuck Durfor
August 2003 - Cathy Horner
July 2003 - Art Edelstein
June 2003 - Muriel Anderson
May 2003 - Clarelynn Rose
March-April 2003 - Steve Wildey
February 2003 - Rick Ruskin
January 2003 - Kerry Kling
December 2002 - Tim O'Brien
November 2002 - Howard Emerson
October 2002 - Dennis Roger Reed
September 2002 - Larry Pattis
August 2002 - Paul Asbell