, Andrew Ripp, Johnny Juarez
Saturday, Mar 24, 2012 7:00 PM EDT
(6:00 PM Doors)
Highline Ballroom, New York, NY
Dinner menu available • GA Standing • Limited seats available • First come, first seated • $10 min/person at tables • All ages
Born in South Carolina, Dave Barnes grew up in rural Mississippi, first gravitating to the hip-hop popular with his classmates. He had his "aha" moment as a singer-songwriter in college. "I was thinking I was weird, or something was wrong with me," he remembers. "But when I found the magazine Performing Songwriter, I thought, 'You mean there's a group of people who relate to this? Who have a hard time talking when there is a melody in their head or will run off and call their voicemail so they can remember how this one lyric goes?'" After graduating from college, he relocated to Nashville to see what might happen.
At first, very little was happening, with Barnes cutting his teeth in a 50-capacity room – and drawing just seven people at one point. But just a few years later, after crisscrossing the country and selling vanloads of two independent albums – Brother, Bring The Sun (2004) and Chasing Mississippi (2006) – he had landed songs on television and in films and was well known to thousands who'd discovered his soulful, supple way with a melody, wrapping itself around a lyric that sneakily burrows under the skin. Those fans include Vince Gill, Amy Grant, and John Mayer, who said on his blog: "Go where this guy is taking you. My man's aim is true!"
Where is Barnes taking listeners? Judging by a spin of his latest release, What We Want, What We Get (2010), he's taking them just about anywhere. As an artist who embraces everything from Stevie Wonder to Steely Dan and seemingly everything in between, he creates music marked by both depth and groove – songs that are both thought-provoking and dance-inspiring. Although Barnes just released his hotly-anticipated album Stories to Tell (2012), it might surprise listeners to know that he never made a conscious decision to arrive where he is today. As he puts it, one thing just led to another, without much of a master plan. "I am thankful that many young singer-songwriters ask me, 'Dude, how did you do it? Give me the roadmap.' But the truth is, I don't know. I can't tell you that I've ever planned anything. And I like that, because it must mean I am meant to do this. Right?" Right.