Logged In As Admin: {{reverbUser.name}} ({{reverbUser.id_unique()}}), Acting As: {{reverbPageObject.data.name}} ({{reverbPageObject.id_unique}})

You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your ReverbNation experience.

John Barrell / Blog

Moving Right Along

The "ILLUSIONS" project is nearing the finishing line! Bits and pieces of things here and there to do, but I'm on track with the help of a scaled down crew of musicians and studio wizards to get this out by HALLOWEEN! The Illusionary Band is; Myself on vocals, rhythm/lead/bass & 12 string guitars, ukulele, baglama, and percussion Joey Wilson on lead guitar Johnny Allen on bass Craig Lacour on drums Derek Ashcraft on keyboards Danny Smith on percussion, acoustic guitar, backing vocals and "Guidance Counselor" Also featuring "the Wall of Sound Vocalists" - Cher Wilson, Darrell Green, Clyde Lemons, Christy Barrell & Katie Barrell (as well as Danny, Joey and I)

ANOTHER BIG ANOUNCEMENT; won't leak a whole lot on this yet, but the gang & I will be working on a special cover we've been asked to put together to help benefit service men and women... will give you more details later, but projected release date for this single song will be Veteran's Day!


This project has already taken one LARGE change - originally starting off as a live album with a few studio bonus tracks - but due to things bleeding over into other mics and instruments getting out of tune and a large portion of the show not recording, there would've been too much work to do to make it listenable, so the bonus tracks became the seeds of a new album called "EVOLUTION". Visually I'm a big picture artist; the graphics (which I also design and create along with the actual music) need to tie in to the title and flow of the overall project. I've been stumped as sessions rolled along on how to visually and cleverly depict "EVOLUTION" in the graphics without repeating myself - after all, "TRANSITIONS" already depicted visually a sort of evolution or transition of me from the beginning of my musical journey up to where I was at that time. Some I've been stumped... until a few nights ago during game night with my wife. While playing cards and having a few drinks she said, "TRANSITIONS was showing (musically and artistically) the changes and growth update to that point, and REFLECTIONS was a reflection of the many sides of who you have grown to become. But, just when the listener thinks they've got you've figured out, you pull back the curtains and rip off your mask and ta-da! It's all been ILLUSIONS!" Yeah... the wheels started turning graphically and as well for a few pieces that can be added musically to thematically tie everything together! Nothing that has already been recorded will be scrapped as it all still fits within the "story" this album was going to convey, but now it has more focus and direction, and I have a better vision on how to tie some loose musical ends together as well as where to go with the artwork (think Houdini meets the tortured, tragic musical genius of the Phantom of the Opera).... thanks again to my wonderful muse - my wife - my Christine! "ILLUSIONS" - just when you thought you had it all figured out!


I wish I could share snippets of what we've got happening so far (and I may via some video posts like I did during the recoding of "REFLECTIONS"), but suffice it say, I'm quite proud and excited by what's going on! A lot of songs are in various stages, but 3 have got vocals and nearly finished as far as music goes (some bits and pieces still needed; piano, lead guitar, hand claps, etc). The first I've had a chance to listen to is "I Need You", a head banging full throttle kick ass rock and roll tune. The solo by Joey Wilson is mind blowing! It was said in the Studio that "this sounds like what the Ramones might've sounded like with modern gear and an 80's singer"... I'll accept that! Next up was "Queen of my Everything" - a very swinging jaunty number that gave everyone fits due to the odd rhythm I had in mind. Sort of reminiscent of a mashup of ELO, Beach Boys, Frankie Valli... but again, with a very modern edge. Last one tracked for me to listen to was "I'm Okay" - a very personal song (that deserves a blog of its own for its backstory!) Sort of a Power Ballad in essence, it's one of the few entries I've ever braved playing the guitar solo for, and after listening back to the rough mix (of all 3 songs through my Bose headphones) this last song almost brought a tear to my eye.... I can't wait to have this album done just so you all can hear it and give me your thoughts on the songs! I hope this has at least piqued your curiousity for hearing "EVOLUTION" when it's finished!!!

Studio Update

The vibe recording EVOLUTION certainly feels different- it has had a raw, almost live feeling to it, which is ironic considering this 3rd album was supposed to be a LIVE album! During the sessions for "REFLECTIONS" we used a small army of musicians for the rhythm sections of each song, utilizing 4 drummers and 3 bassists (including myself). Often it was a toss up of who would be playing what on which track. Halfway into the sessions for "EVOLUTION" and we've kept the same rhythm crew on all the tracks so far, and even though the songs once again vary in style from track to track, there's been a cohesiveness in using the same rhythm section. There may come a point where other musicians are called upon to play bass or drums, but as of now, this project is steamrolling forward full steam ahead! Climb Aboard.... and as always, STAY TUNED!!!


At an early age I began singing and in 1979 I picked up my first guitar. By 1980 I'd started writing music and along with my brother had started our first band. Myriad bands and countless musicians passed through my life; SIERRA, HIGH VOLTAGE, WARRIORZ, OFF LYMITZ, PSYKOSIS and RELIX to name a few. In 2009 my first "solo" album - "TRANSITIONS" - came out. It was transition from who I was up to that point in my life, heralding songs from my past and present. It was basic, it was raw, but it rocked. In 2013 came "REFLECTIONS", and moment to pause and look at where I was and who I was musically. I'd grown artistically since the last album and this albums goal was to reflect some of that change and maturity. 2015 will see the release of "EVOLUTION", and it's title pretty much sums up the idea behind the album - new growth and change and further development in my musical journey. Hope you stick around for the ride and give me some of your thoughts on TRANSITIONS and REFLECTIONS and what you might be hoping to hear on EVOLUTION!

Who's in "The Band"?

Reverbnation said someone had asked this question and now I see it wants me to list members of the band. The thing is, since this is a solo studio project that stands alone from my gigging with RELIX, there are no full time band members, but instead a conglomeration of brothers willing to help out at any given time, both in the studio and for the live shows coming up to promote the CD. So, with that in mind, I'll list the "Live" band first and then the extra studio musicians. LIVE; along with myself it is... Joey Wilson: Lead Guitar (also studio) Tracy Farrington: Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals Johnny Allen: Drums & Backing Vocals (also studio) Kevin Burns: Bass Guitar (also studio) Chad Montgomery: Bass Guitar Russell Stover: Harmonica & Backing Vocals (also studio) Danny Smith: Backing Vocals & "Stuff" (also studio) STUDIO MUSICIANS; JT Sober: Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals Ryan Sober: Lead Guitar Scott Hooter: Drums Aaron Links: Drums Steve Gallagher: Drums & Percussion Dweighn Secrist: Backing Vocals & Supplemental Bass, Clock Bill Conerly: Upright Bass & Trombone Ray Bloch: Clarinet & Saxophone Christy Barrell: Vocals, Handclaps & Fingersnaps GYPSY BLUE: Gang Vocals Ke Poloka: Additional Percussion & Waves

They say "it takes a village".... no kidding!!!

More More More!

A lot has happened recently in this house. My wife's Father lost a short battle with cancer (more the treatment than the disease) and it's just been hectic. As I tried to comfort her one night, she said that "she hurts" and wished I could come up with a song to either express for her that feeling or help soothe some of that hurt. At first I thought, maybe she should put down in words what she was feeling - but no, that wouldn't work. Instead, it hit me one night while she was gone helping sit by his side what needed to be done, and that turned into the song "She Hurts". It's a song from my perspective of trying to comfort her and she accepting my attempts to make her feel better, but deep down inside no matter what, that hurt is still there. It's a deeply personal and emotional song (made moreso by my first attempt at incorporating an ebow into my music) that when I first let her hear it - she cried. It will be on the new album. I hope you all like it for whatever reasons as much as she seems to.


"TRANSITIONS" yielded a variety of songs from a long period of years. Some I liked more than others, but the listeners opinion matters most, so out of curiosity I ask 2 questions; 1) there seems to be several people who've singled out "Plastic Foxes" as a favorite track - why? what is it about that song specifically that y'all seem to like? and 2) if not that song, what is your favorite track and why? which song (or songs) speak most to you the listeners? I need to know!!!

Where's the Beef?

Not literal "beef", but I've been asked more than a few times where are previews of the new songs from "REFLECTIONS". Well, to hopefully build some anticipation (and not spoil the finished product) I've chosen NOT to post any of the new material until it's ready to release. Kind of like Ernest & Julio Gallo; "I'll post no rhymes until it's time!"


Recently secured the assistance of a music teacher/string conductor to work on scoring the songs I was working up with strings. Possibility now exists that instead of just 2 people tracked multiple times he may pick some of his best students (along with my honorary "niece" who's mom I work with and brought this man on board) to record the orchestral parts. I might just have to hurry up and concoct one more song with some strings for them! Kind of excited! One song left to do basic tracks on and then get parts done... then the mixing process begins!!!!