Bloodshot Briefing: Bobby Bare Jr.
By Matt Harness
As far as I know, Bloodshot Records' current stable houses two musicians whose fathers also beat the main streets playing tunes. Justin Townes Earle is the son of folk-country hippie Steve Earle, and Bobby Bare Jr. is the offspring of Bobby Bare, a man who ran in circles with Waylon Jennings and lived on the same block in Nashville as Tammy Wynette and George Jones.
I tracked down Bobby Bare Jr. - who was nominated for a Grammy Award at the age of six for a song he sang with his father - this week and we covered everything from Kenny Chesney to Shel Silverstein.
Beachwood Music: Where do you make home?
Bobby Bare Jr.: East Nashville. It's more like the Austin, Texas part of Nashville. My neighborhood is nice, but right across the street is not so nice. There are parts of East Nashville that are not nice at all.
Beachwood Music: Do you know Justin Townes Earle?
Bobby Bare Jr.: Yeah. I've known him since (the mid-90s). He dropped off his bike at I shop where I worked. He lived in my house for a year up until last July. We have the same kind of friends, and we have a lot in common, with our dads being in the business. I hired Justin's sidekick, Cory Yount, who plays mandolin and banjo, in 2001 to go on the road with me.
Beachwood Music: How do you compare Chicago's music scene with Nashville's?
Bobby Bare Jr.: We have Kenny Chesney and you have Jon Langford. That defines it perfectly. No, we have Silver Jews, Clem Snide, Raconteurs, Justin, Lambchop, so many great bands. The lead guitarist for My Morning Jacket lives here, so do a few of the Black Crowes.
The talent pool here is un-fucking believable. Chicago's amazing, too. You just have to try harder here; you try not to suck. There are so many people here that are so much better than you are.
Beachwood Music: But Chesney? Is there anything else that separates Chicago from Nashville?
Bobby Bare Jr.: Chicago's live music scene is much better. In Nashville, everybody in the audience is in a band. In Chicago, people actually go see live music. Nashville's not a great town for attendance. Austin is the greatest city for attendance of live music, but Chicago is a close second.
But in Nashville, you go out any night of the week and hear bands that are stunning.
Beachwood Music: What's your favorite Chicago venue?
Bobby Bare Jr: Schubas. It's the first place that ever booked me, in 1998 or 1999.
When I stay in Chicago, a friend lends me his loft right near the Double Door, so I spend a lot of time in that area.
Beachwood Music: When was the last time you visited our city?
Bobby Bare Jr: January? I spend so much time there.
Beachwood Music: How did you get engaged, then married, to Bloodshot Records?
Bobby Bare Jr: I played the Hideout's Block Party in 2001, and (co-founder) Rob Miller offered to help me sell CDs. We stayed in touch. They allow you to do whatever you want, as long as it's good.
Beachwood Music: You've released three LPs and an EP with the label. Anything new in the pipeline?
Bobby Bare Jr.: I have half a record done. I'm hoping in July I get it done.
Beachwood Music: Does having a father in business make it easier or harder for you?
Bobby Bare Jr.: Nothing but a blessing . . . But it's tough, too. He's got opinions, and I have opinions. You ever worked on anything with your dad? But we hang out all the time.
Beachwood Music: You are coming to Chicago in July. Can you tell us about your reason for the visit?
Bobby Bare Jr: It's for a tribute to Shel Silverstein. He and my dad were best friends. I had all my songs critiqued by him until he died. He and I co-wrote a song together. There's something else in the works (for the future), but I'm not sure I can talk about it. It's going to be amazing.
Daddy, What If/Bare & Bare Jr.
Let's Rock and Roll/The adult Bobby Bare Jr.
Bloodshot Briefing now appears on Fridays. Matt welcomes your comments.
Posted on May 22, 2009
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