After releasing his latest album Ghost Notes last year Matthew Barber has been nominated for a 2009 Juno Awards for Roots/Traditional Album of the Year (solo). “I was pleasantly surprised and happy about the Juno nomination – it always feels good to be recognized in that way,” noted Barber during our chat this afternoon.
The singer/songwriter toured Canada then Australia with his sister Jill (also a musician) in 2008 during what they called the Sibling Revelry Tour and is preparing for a full album release in the US next month. His label Outside Music will be launching in America and Ghost Notes will be their first release, through independent music distributor, Red Eye.
Between tours and releases Barber still finds time to write and not solely for his own albums. I found out that he worked on a theatrical production called The Haunted Hillbilly, based on a a short novel by Toronto author Derek McCormack. “Some friends of mine are involved in the theatre community in Montreal and it was their idea to adapt this play,” said Barber who was then invited to be the Musical Director. “The idea was to make it a play with songs as opposed to a musical, a play that sort of has songs interspersed with the dialog so I got to write original songs for these characters to sing.” Set in Nashville, one of the characters was Hank Williams – although the story is entirely fictional. “It was well-received and we’re going to be doing it again late this year, doing a longer run of it and a bigger production.” Barber was also able to draw inspiration from the theatre community, “just seeing how they work and how they operate — they work really hard.”
Barber has also been writing blog post updates on his MySpace page, while his main site has been under construction. “It’s nice to have that to fall back on to post your songs — it’s easy, it’s free, and everybody knows it’s out there.”
His sound is a personal, soulful mixture of folk and rock that combines in the best way possible when you have a talented songwriter behind the guitar. If you’d like to check out Matthew Barber he will be in town for the Juno Awards this weekend and will be playing a show for Juno Fest at Doolins on Saturday night (@11:00pm). It’s a slightly different venue than he’s used to, having played at the Media Club before and also opened up for bands at The Commodore, which is the holy grail of venues in this city according to almost every artist I’ve ever spoken with – and I think most would agree with that. However I’ve heard that when Matthew Barber is playing any venue can seem like the most intimate, so I know the Doolins crowd will be in for a treat regardless.
But being based back East, hopefully he’ll pass through town again, either while promoting this release or his next since after this weekend (and hopefully after collecting some much-deserved Juno hardware) he’ll be getting back to writing. “I’m kind of immersed in that right now so that’s what I plan on doing for the next few weeks, just hunkering down in the basement and cranking out some recordings.”
You can check out his nominated album Ghost Notes, which is currently available on iTunes for download or pick it up at your local retail music store.