John Barrell / Blog


Used some of the tools here on Reverbnation to get some anonymous reviews of 3 tracks off the new album. As an artist, I have to learn to take the good with any bad and use the bad either as constructive criticism to better myself on future projects or to just let some of it go, realizing that my songs simply aren't some listeners cup of tea. However, some of the good reviews made me smile, and I'll be sharing some of those son along with my "responses" to some of them!

Short Break, part 2?

I'd posted back in December of plans to take a brief break from live performances due to NEEDING shoulder surgery (completed 12/20/15 with a LOT of rigorous PT afterwards!!) The end of January I went in for RadioFrequency Facet Neurotomy to the right side of my spine (L1 through S1) and last week repeated the procedure to the left side. It's been good having a little time off to HEAL instead of trying to drag my carcass onto the stage mere days after surgeries (as I have in he past!!) I did make an exception prior to the RF procedures and played bass for the Hip Hop/ Rap/ Gospel band, S.O.R. at the New Orleans Gospe Awards (nominated in 2 categories.) Will be doing some other work with them in the upcoming year (as well as them guesting on my current new release!) Shows with RELIX began again in early March starting with Spirits and then the Wolf Den Saloon.

About Time!!

Some "technical delays" have held up a proper release of "ILLUSIONS" via the Internet, but those issues may be resolved and the album should be up soon!! A few copies of the initial pressing (pre-remastering and some remixing on about 3 songs) are still available and the new discs should arrive next week. Until then? Get ready, as I'm about to start attempting to upload the songs here for all of the faithful who follow me on Reverbnation to get a good listen to!!


Walking On a Thin Line - Single by John Barrell https://itun.es/us/w4cI_ Sound like a familiar title? Yup! A few buddies of mine and myself were tasked with the idea to cover this song in a much slower tempo and stripped down to allow the words speak for themselves. Why? To help raise money and awareness for our Combat Vet's who suffer PTSD and, who often without any care or support, ending committing suicide. Statistics show that on any given day, as many as 22 Veterans take their own lives rather than have to deal with the pain. The organization, "22 UNTIL NONE" is helping raise awareness and money to help battle this terrible epidemic... they intend to do everything they can until the numbers go from twenty down to zero. And here is how YOU can help; go to iTunes or CD Baby and BUY this song! 100% of all money earned goes back to "22 UNTIL NONE" to help with what they're doing.

Short Break

As things stand, I will be honoring everything booked with RELIX for the rest of 2015, and then book nothing more until after the New Year (have already booked a March gig for RELIX!) That's not uncommon for most bands, but the reason behind this is that one week after our last December date, I'm scheduled for arthroscopic surgery for my left shoulder, which will put me very briefly in a sling and then back to Physical Therapy. The plan is to shave down some bone where things are impinging and try to drain off or reduce the size of the bursa that's kind of blown out. "IF" the scope finds any tears that the MRI didn't show (only real possible spot may be where bicep connects to collar bone) then he will sew it up while in there. We could've done this sooner, but I'm not one to cancel gigs unless I have to... EVER!!! Yes, I will be in pain during these last 4 gigs of 2015 (what else is new) but the show must go on! So what about the "in the planning" cd release party and show? Well, the immediate plan is to get the album finished and released ASAP. It's possible we might put together a "listening party" right as it releases... but an actual gig showcasing the new material plus songs from my prior 2 albums may need to wait until January. So you can mark your calendars; Friday November 20th at Krazy Katies in Hessmer (9-1) Private Party for the Fraternal Order of Police on December 4th Friday December 11th at the Wolf Den Saloon in Marksvilke (8-12) Saturday December 12th at Krazy Katies in Hessmer (9-1) (hoping I can make an appearance at Eddie Mapp's Annual Christmas Jam... we shall see!)

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!