"Barefoot Jax, Rock'n Roll Originals" by Angie Aguila, River Cities Gazette

The secret is out about local band Barefoot Jax. Barefoot Jax is made up of four of the coolest, talented, most humble guys around. Half of this original rock 'n' roll band lives right here in Miami Springs. You may have seen Barefoot Jax performing at the Springs River Festival, at Woody's West End Tavern for Super Bowl Sunday or St. Patty's Day, or perhaps it was their latest event a couple of weeks ago at the legendary Tobacco Road. The original rock 'n' roll band is made up of Miami Springs residents Fernando Diaz (vocals, drums), and Mark Johnston (vocals, guitars), along with friends Robert Gonzalez (vocals, bass), and Erich Greiner (vocals, lead guitar). Their music is informed by classic rock, power pop, southern rock, Americana, country rock, and the blues. They have been influenced by the greats such as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and a few others. Barefoot Jax is known for their memorable melodies and down-to-earth lyrics about the common man. Throw in some creative guitar riffs with tasty solos, lively drums with a grooving bass, and you've got a no-nonsense rock 'n’ roll production. What you might not know is that although their first gig was back in February on Super Bowl Sunday, Barefoot Jax has been making music for over 10 years. They have four albums and close to one hundred songs registered with the Library of Congress. The band meets faithfully every week at Diaz's home in Miami Springs. All the magic (and a lot of hard work) happens at what is affectionately named "Ferni D's Bamboo Studio." “It was a very comfortable existence to write, have my musical buddies come over, record a new song, and ask them to come back weeks later to overdub their parts,” said Diaz. “But for some time now the desire has been to get the live band together and play out. Be a real band! Work together, write together, and play out together. “We will record new material and release it one by one as it comes. No more waiting until an entire album is done. That’s too long a wait. Record it, and put it out. But the main focus right now is simply to play out,” Daiz continued. The current Barefoot Jax line up came together during the summer of 2011, but the story actually begins many moons ago. As a kid, Diaz used hat boxes and pencils to drum. He dreamt about the drum set that he saw in the Sears catalog. As a teen, he played at the school dances and in garage bands. Through his 20’s he played professionally, six nights a week in clubs. Diaz didn't become a rich and famous rock star so he went back to school and got a degree and a career that he is proud of. It wasn't until he and his wife got a computer as a wedding gift, that a light bulb went off. Diaz realized he could record and produce songs without having to go to a big time multi-million dollar studio. Fast forward twelve years, Diaz considers himself a blessed man to have a supportive wife, three amazing children, and Barefoot Jax. While Diaz, aka Ferni D, is quick to praise his fellow band members for their enthusiasm and commitment to the band, Diaz is humble about all the hours that he has spent in the studio, editing and producing each and every single that Barefoot Jax has released. "These three guys have been highly committed from the beginning," Diaz says of his fellow band mates. "They haven't missed a rehearsal, they're motivated, and passionate about it. Mark, Robert, and Erich are amazing and talented guys."

Note: This excerpt was originally printed in the River Cities Gazette, June 28, 2012 and was written by Angie Aguila.

Barefoot Jax: From the Studio to Live

Barefoot Jax has evolved from being an ongoing home studio project to a live original rock band that is ready to gig. The last ten years have essentially been driven by song writing and recording thus giving birth to over ninety inspired songs. BFJ has released four original rock albums by way of the internet – “Crank,” “Much Obliged,” “Leaving Tracks,” and “The Legend of Skinny on the Flip.” You may have heard Agora, Party Girl, or Roller Coaster as some of their more popular tunes. They are unsigned and beyond the point of wanting, or needing a record deal for validation or monetary success. They simply want to play their original songs live and have their fans enjoy their music. And oh yes, they want to write some more! Is that too much to ask for?

Ferni D says, “It was a very comfortable existence to write, have my musical buddies come over, record a new song, and ask them to come back weeks later to overdub their parts. The real work would then kick in as I was left by my lonesome to edit, mix, and eventually master the tracks.” This was the mode of operandi. He continues, “But for some time now the desire has been to get the live band together and play out. Be a real band! Work together, write together, and play out together.” As if you haven’t yet noticed the operative word seems to be “together.” Ferni says, “We will record new material and release it one by one as it comes. No more waiting until an entire album is done. That’s too long a wait. Record it, and put it out. But the main focus right now is simply to play out.”

Barefoot Jax now consists of Mark Johnston (vocals/guitars), Erich Greiner (vocals, guitars), Robert Gonzalez (vocals/bass), and Ferni D (vocals/drums). The group has placed recording on hold for the time being and has been rehearsing regularly to work up a set of their unique brand of rock ‘n’ roll. Their song list pulling from their extensive collection thus far includes: Party Girl, Agora, We’re Gonna Win, Mango Time, She’s A Killer, Mr. Friendly, The Liar, Dogman, You’re The One, I Do, His Fame, and Roller Coaster. They have also worked up their own versions of two covers: Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues, and Buddy Holly’s Oh Boy. Ferny says, “The great thing about this present line-up is that everybody wants to be here. They show up on time, learn their parts ahead of time, play great, and have a super attitude. What a pleasure!” It looks like their future is wide open.

You may read this entire blog at: http://www.facebook.com/barefootjaxmusic www.myspace.com/barefootjaxmusic

Make sure to join Barefoot Jax along their journey:

http://www.reverbnation.com/barefootjax http://www.youtube.com/user/TheBarefootJax

"Mr. Friendly" is Knocking at Your Door

It’s finally the end of the party and your last guest has left… Now who could that be knocking at your door? “Mr. Friendly” is a laid back fun tune about that person we all know that shows up after you have finished for the night. On a deeper level, however, it could also be about the temptations we sometimes encounter. The song starts out with Ferni D’s big open tom fill and continues with just the bass played by Allen Edwards, and Ferni on lead vocals. Little by little the different instruments come in. First in is Gus Mayorga who played acoustic guitar on the right and then followed by David “Sparky” Todd who played his funky rhythm electric guitar panned left. Sparky also plays the slide answer backs on the choruses and the middle section “wah-wah” solo. Later after the bridge there is a fat note bending solo by Carlos Mesa, which concludes with Gus Mayorga doing a clean Telecaster solo at the very end. The wide background vocals were performed by Allen Edwards and Ferni D. Mr. Friendly was written, mixed, and produced by Ferni D in his Bamboo Studio. Feel free to click “share.”

Take a Ride on the Barefoot Jax “Roller Coaster”

It’s a bright sunny day and you find yourself in your favorite amusement park on a very slow climb up a long, steep track on a red, wooden, train-like “Roller Coaster.” Are you holding on tight? Are you scared? You inch your way to the top and… “Wooooooooo!” Barefoot Jax’s latest single called “Roller Coaster” was released a few weeks ago and has already catapulted BFJ near the top ten for the Miami rock charts in Reverbnation. It has earned close to 8000 widget hits across the internet. Not bad for an unsigned band! Roller Coaster was written by Ferni D and was recorded in his home studio with Bebe on lead vocals and bass, Jorge Hernandez on guitars, and Hector Portal also on guitars. Ferni played drums, organ, and piano. He says, “It’s very much a team effort and I feel very lucky to have musician friends who enjoy coming over to record with me. It’s always fun and very fulfilling!” Ferni D produced and mixed the track. As it turns out, Bebe had been (literally) living at the end of Ferni’s block for many years unbeknownst to each other. A chance meeting a few months ago at a local festival sparked an interest in collaborating. Bebe says, “Working with BFJ was a lot of fun. The recording sessions were very easy going and creative. I was treated like one of the guys from the get go.” Bebe and Ferni first laid down the drums and bass together to set the foundation. This song is very fast but is still very much in the “pocket,” and as solid as can be. It pops! Ferni remembered Jorge Hernandez from some twenty-five years ago from a local Hialeah band, and invited him to the session. Jorge brought in the classic combo, a Les Paul guitar with a Marshall amp. Can’t beat that! His steady thick rhythm riffs grounded the song, while his bending lines on the choruses provided the ever lifting feel. Hector Portal was recommended to Ferni by a mutual friend and was very willing, from the get go, to provide his years of expertise as heard in the blistering hot solos! His fast rhythm guitar also propelled the song as if it was flying off the tracks. Some have commented that this song is reminiscent of work from the Ramones, New York Dolls, and even more recently Green Day. The comparison is certainly palatable with its garage band and punk attitude; and oh yeah, it’s fast - “way” fast! But, it also is a “hair” more produced with the tight vocal harmonies, and the lightly mixed organ/piano parts that add some color. Not too much, however, so as to take away from the energy and attitude of it, but more so to be consistent and true to BFJ’s power pop tendencies. The lyrics were initially inspired by a family vacation up to Orlando, Florida. Ferni D recalls, “The excitement and power of the coaster was a feeling I wanted to write about. But it had to be much more than just about a ride. Could it be paralleled to a woman?” Luckily, Bebe, as the vocalist for the song was able to interpret its meaning without it having to be explained to him. Bebe says, “The song ‘Roller Coaster’ is a metaphor for life experiences, particularly our experiences in relationships. We never really know what to expect but we know that there will be ups and downs!” Bebe also did his own three-part harmonies with an occasional 4th part thrown in. Listen to the suspended vocal harmony near the end that cuts out in perfect time, as if the rapid coaster is going around the curve! Barefoot Jax continues to write and record new and fresh original music. Check out BFJ on Reverbnation, and on their brand new Facebook page. http://www.reverbnation.com/barefootjax

“The Legend of Skinny on the Flip” - BFJ's 4th Album

Barefoot Jax proudly releases their fourth album entitled “The Legend of Skinny on the Flip” with 17 new tracks: Little Sunshine, Twenty-Five Days, My Little Rock’n Roller, Goodbye, As I Grow With You, Come and Get It, Intro to Run, Run, Tonight, Three Frogs, Carry On, I Do, Brand New Day, Artist For A Day, Back in the Day, Dual Friction, and Those Were The Days. This project showcases Ferni D on the drums, piano, and organ; Carlos Mesa on bass and guitars; Allen Edwards on vocals; and Gus Mayorga on vocals and additional guitars. The majority of the tracks were written by Ferni D and Carlos Mesa. Ferni D produced and mixed the album in his Bamboo Studio. BFJ’s music is sometimes described as middle of the road rock with a late 70’s sensibility. It draws from classic rock, power pop, and some Southern rock. It’s not too heavy, but not too light either – it’s just right! Like their previous albums, BFJ stays firm to their brand of song arrangement within a pop structure featuring note bending guitar solos, live drums, big harmonies, and lyrics that most people can relate to. Their songs always seem to have a good groove, guitars naturally over driven by tube amps, and most importantly a memorable melody and chorus. Rhythm tracks were recorded the old fashion way - live. You can “feel” the looseness, and freshness in their recordings. Ferni D says, “It’s rock’n roll. It’s not meant to be perfect!” The tunes are typically guitar driven but do include the piano, organ, and a synth here, and there. Take a listen and enjoy! (8/2010) Note: BFJ’s My Space web page features twenty-five songs in total pulling from all of their albums. http://www.myspace.com/barefootjaxmusic However, to hear in its entirety “The Legend of Skinny on the Flip,” or any of the other BFJ albums you may check out their other web page on iLike: http://www.ilike.com/artist/BAREFOOT+JAX BFJ is now also on Facebook!

"Leaving Tracks" is Barefoot Jax's Third Album

"Leaving Tracks” marks Barefoot Jax’s third album release. From the raw guitars of “A Friendly Sardine,” to the more acoustical “Lady in Pari” BFJ’s sound will captivate both your imagination and interest. Lyrically the songs range from love, political, and social commentary, to club themes such as “Party Girl,” and “Into the Night.” The variety of tunes flow effortlessly as if sketching a story. But don’t be fooled; this is a rock album! As in their two previous albums, “Crank,” and “Much Obliged” some of the songs were initiated by Carlos Mesa on the guitar, Ferni D writing the lyrics, and a collaboration between Ferni D and Allen Edwards on the melodies: Lady in Pari, The Missing Scene, Shakedown, His Own Way, and Into The Night (Al wrote the words to this one). By comparison, Leaving Tracks does have several other tunes that Ferni D originated on the piano, and also wrote the lyrics for such as Party Girl, My Valentine, The Children Are The Angels, and You See (Gus Mayorga wrote the lyrics to this one). Ferni D wrote The Liar, but this he wrote on the guitar. “Leaving Tracks” was recorded, mixed, and produced by Ferni D in his home’s “Bamboo Studio.” Ferni played drums, organ, piano, and synth. Carlos played most of the bass, and guitar parts. Allen performed the majority of the vocals and played bass on My Valentine, and The Children Are The Angels. Several other musicians also performed on the album: Jorge Fernandez played acoustic guitar on Spanish Alibi, the solo on Lady in Pari, and all the guitars on Shakedown; Gus sang on Party Girl, and You See, and played guitar on a few of the songs along with Carlos, such as You See, Party Girl, and My Valentine; Art Jansik played guitar on The Liar, along with Carlos, and Perry Margolis sang on it. David “Sparky” Todd played all the guitars on The Children Are The Angels, and the solos on My Valentine; finally, Danny Augustine played congas on a few of the tracks. Ferni D talks about the recording of Lady in Pari. “I remember Carlos and Gus coming over one late afternoon. Carlos had written these interesting chord changes while gigging on a cruise ship. He ended up showing Gus the guitar parts, and then playing bass along with both of us; me on the drums using brushes. Later, Carlos overdubbed an additional acoustic guitar part. Jorge Fernandez, yet on another day, played the ending acoustic guitar solo. He also did Spanish Alibi, which I believe he made up on the spot as an intro. I then tried to paint a picture describing a trip I took to Paris.” “Walking up, a narrow street, lined, with cafes and bistros. Having espresso, French bread, sharing, a bottle of red, wine… My Lady in Pari, she’s good to me…”. Al sang Lady in Pari and performed all of the harmonies. The other acoustic tune on the album is His Own Way which concludes the album peacefully, after taking you through a musical, and lyrical journey. Barefoot Jax has released three albums to date which are: “Crank,” “Much Obliged,” and most recently, “Leaving Tracks.” Note: You can read all about Barefoot Jax and listen to ten featured songs on My Space: http://www.myspace.com/barefootjaxmusic You can also listen to their entire three albums on iLike:http://www.ilike.com/artist/BAREFOOT+JAX (6/2010) To read this entire blog, visit BFJ on Facebook, or My Space!

"Much Obliged" Second Release

Much Obliged" marks the second release for the Miami based rock band Barefoot Jax. Whereas their first album, “Crank” was served “straight up” paying homage to the Masters, "Much Obliged" introduces subtle southern elements including the steel guitar, acoustic guitar, organ, and the occasional congas. Still strongly planted in roots rock drawing from Zeppelin, Stones, and Skynyrd, Barefoot Jax continues in its journey to create music the old fashion way – live and with real instruments! Much like its predecessor, this ten song album again showcases the core song writing team of Ferni D with Carlos Mesa, and the melodic interpretations of Allen Edwards. Ferni D played drums and organ; he also recorded and produced the project in his home studio – The Bamboo Studio. Carlos Mesa played bass, and guitar. Allen Edwards sang, and also played bass on the track, “His Fame.” In contrast, however, this album offers the distinction of showcasing the talents of additional local musicians. Gus Mayorga, a long time friend, sang on several of the tracks including “Mango Time,” “Write Me A Letter,” and “Rainbow’s End.” Miami Springs’ musician, Mark Johnston, sang on ‘You’re the One.” Yet another Springs’ musician, David “Sparky” Todd, co-wrote “His Fame” and played guitar on it, as well as on “Good Loving.” Additionally, percussionist Danny Augustin played congas on such tunes such as “Mango Time,” “Write Me A Letter,” and “Devil’s Cry.” No doubt the collaboration of these fine home grown musicians added to the widening of Barefoot Jax’s soundscape. The recording process still continues to be labor intensive even though Ferni D will tell you that ‘it’s a labor of love.” He adds, “There is no reason to do this other than for the love of it. Nobody makes any money from it, and the challenge is in trying to coordinate everyone’s schedule so we can actually meet to record. Remember, everyone here is grown-up, with a family, and a real job. It’s not like a signed band that can spend eight months to a year in a multi-million dollar facility, and not have anything else to do in their day other than show-up and record! And, get paid…” Ferni D says, “This often becomes an ‘obsession’ to write and record. If you are a musician at the core, then you have that ‘bug,’ and it’s difficult to shake it. But for the most part, it’s my privilege to be able to do this and have fun doing so.” Carlos Mesa being the main guitar player says, “As far as guitar parts are concerned, usually the first conceived ones are of pure spontaneity; no thought process is involved for the most part. Once something is established with form and repetition, then the harmonic interweaving with similar lines are constructed so as to add during the overdub process. This is when it becomes exciting and rewarding to enter the orchestral arrangement of a sort, and to listen to all the parts together supporting one another without cluttering, or cancelling the other parts. This too can be said with regards to the solos,” he continuous. “Various runs are recorded, and then the best ones are chosen for the final cut.” Generally speaking, Carlos brings in the chords and Ferni writes the lyrics. Ferni then hands over the words and what can be considered a working melody to Al, or one of the other vocalists. Allen Edwards is by now used to coming over to Ferni’s Bamboo Studio to record; usually late at night when there is no work the next day. Ferni D hands him typed lyrics and makes his best effort to sing what he is hearing in his head. Al then through his musical understanding of melody and harmony grabs the idea and customizes it based on his inspiration... (4/2010) To read the entire blog vist BFJ's web page on My Space, or on Facebook.

Barefoot Jax uploads "CRANK."

Barefoot Jax uploads "CRANK" for old and new fans alike. "Crank" offers ten original rock tracks that aim to please, but not for the faint at heart. Songwriters Ferni D, Carlos Mesa, and Allen Edwards fuse classic rock influences with modern day lyrical themes about love, family, good old days, and life's struggles. "Word-wise, I usually listen to the music first and see what emotions that might evoke; I center the lyrics on that inspiration," says Ferni. "Then I run with it, and try to stay true to that initial inspiration." After several re-writes, the words and a working melody are handed over to Al for tweaking. "Since he is usually the one who has to sing, he has to feel comfortable doing so. Besides, he has a great sense of melody and is just super with the harmonies." Besides the track "Dogman" which was written by Ferni D, the music on this album was brought in by Carlos Mesa by way of guitar chord progressions, riffs, and bass parts. Once the arrangements of the tunes were worked out in the studio, the rhythm tracks were recorded live. Carlos played all of the guitar and bass parts, with the exception of "Agora," for which Al played bass. Ferni D played drums and also addded the occassional piano, or organ for color to round out the tracks. Later, days after each recording session, he would usually then write the lyrics and work out a melody with Al. This was by no means always the case, but it seemed to work-out very well for most of "Crank." Carlos writes on the guitar and is skillful at coming up with great chords, riffs, and solos. If you're not careful, you just might think you are hearing Jimmy Page riffing on a few chords, or Allen Collins (from Lynyrd Skynyrd) taking you for a ride on a solo. Carlos plays old school through a Fender tube amp typically over driven, either with a Fender Strat, or with one of his two Ibanez guitars. He uses little to no effects. Carlos says, "The older I get, the less I play. I'm trying to keep things as simple as possible. When I was real young I went through the jazz phase that a lot of us go through when we're trying to learn to be good; but now I don't have time to come up with hard complicated stuff. I like it simple-trim all the fat!" He records standing up with his guitar slung low, and can be often seen leaning in towards his amp to get the feedback, or tone he is hearing in his head. The dirt you hear in his guitar is all natural by overdriving the tubes in his amp. His strings are a bit thicker than most also contributing to his sound. Even though it is rock, one can always feel a groove and a "pocket" in all of Barefoot's songs. The bass and drums hold the bottom together. Ferni D likes to play plenty straight with an open high-hat, or on the edge of a crash cymbal. "When you hit the ‘hat' open, or you ride a crash cymbal, you get a nice high end wash which creates excitement." He adds, "that's really a Ringo, Bohnam, or even an Alex Van Halen approach. I try to play simple, but I hit hard, and I try to support the melody. Groove and feel is of most importance to me." Allen Edwards has spent most of his band life playing bass and singing back-up because he is very good at both. However, in Barefoot Jax he is really the lead singer! You can also hear his harmonies all throughout the recordings. Sometimes just as two voices in the verse; to three as a setup to the chorus; then to four in the actual chorus. It's all him through the magic of overdubs in the studio. Al has also spent a lot of time recording and running sound. But in this line-up he comments, "This is a great set-up. I show up at Ferni's house and everything is ready to go. Even a music stand is set-up for me. All I have to do is sing!" And sing he does... To read the entire blog viisit Barefoot Jax's web page: www.myspace.com/barefootjax or on Facebook.(Notes).

Agora Ballroom Remembered in Barefoot Jax's Song "Agora"

Back in the late 70s / early 80s there was an exciting and thriving music scene in South Florida that will for always remain dear to the hearts of club goers, and musicians alike. Bands like The Kids, Freewheel, Slyder, and Gypsy Queen were among those that flavored Miami, Hollywood, and Ft. Lauderdale. The Agora Ballroom which was located just East off I-95 on Hallandale Beach Boulevard was the happening spot: big concert-like stage, full-all-out P.A. system, state-of-the-art lighting, and plenty of space to hang out. This was the late night spot for all the musicians who finished gigging around three in the morning to come and catch the last set, and hang out with their friends until the sun came up. It should be noted that the norm was for a club to have a live band; much unlike the current times we live in. Barefoot Jax recorded "Agora" in Ferni D's home studio which they call the "Bamboo Studio." Carlos Mesa played all of the guitars; Allen Edwards played bass, and performed all of the vocals; and Ferni D played the drums as well as produced, and mixed the track. Ferni recalls the session, "Yeah, I remember that Carlos brought in these great chords with a moving riff that was very cool. The three of us then came up with our parts, and we recorded the rhythm section live in one, maybe two takes. Later, I wrote the words and gave Al a working melody just as a starting point... Al did a great job with this on-going two-part harmony that ran through all of the verses, which would lead up to the big stacked choruses. The slide work finally gave the tune that edge, with all of the attitude." Barefoot Jax’s “Agora” will bring back memories for those who enjoyed that music scene as it has never been seen and felt again, in these parts of the United States. It was a time of innocent and youthful rebellion, creative originality, and most importantly it was a time for dreams. What happened? To those people? Did they all grow up somehow? OrAre they hanging? Are they dreaming? Are they wishing? Are they believing? (from Barefoot Jax's "Agora") (1/2010) To comment on this visit BFJ's page on Facebook, or My Space.

Barefoot Jax

Barefoot Jax is a rock band! Their story began when Ferni first met Carlos in Miami, Florida when they were merely 13 and 11 years old. Their parents were friends long before they were born and were visiting at Ferni's parents' house. As fate would have it, they sat in front of a then new eight-track stereo and listened to Steve Miller's Book of Dreams album. At that moment, a connection and a musical friendship was born. As the years went by, they would continue to see each other at family get togethers, but it would then be Lynyrd Skynyrd and Led Zeppelin that would catch their fancy. Little by little, they learned their instruments and grew up to play in different local bands (i.e., Ferni: Urizon, The Maxx, Phantasy, Starfire, Anonymous, and King Vamp; Carlos: Dirt Poets, Kannibal Diet, Out of the Anonymous, and Vangoh Listens). Ferni D plays drums, mixes, and produces. Carlos Mesa Plays guitar and bass. In a parallel story, Ferni had seen Al play when they were both still in their teens at a local house party in Miami Lakes. Al was playing bass for Zippur. But it wasn't until much later in their twenties when they would finally hook up and play in their own band called Anonymous, and later in King Vamp. Al also played in such groups as Fragile Jane, Dennis the Menace, Strutter, and Prankster... Allen Edwards sings and plays bass. Ferni D met Gus Mayorga through Carlos, and eventually started collaborating on several tunes. Gus has played with Kannibal Diet, Funkhauser, Butter, and Van Gogh Listens. Gus sings and plays guitar. Addtional musicians have made meaningful contributions along this musical journey: David "Sparky" Todd (guitars); Mark Johnston (vocals); Danny Augustine (congas); Jorge Fernandez (guitars); Perry Margolis (vocals); and Art Jansik (guitars). For the last several years these guys have been writing and recording original music for fun in Ferni's "Bamboo Studio." You are invited to ease your mind, turn it up, and give a listen! Thank you. (12/2010)