Bare Jr. Biography
Bobby Bare, Jr. (vocals, guitar)
Mike "Grimey" Grimes (guitar)
Tracy Hackney (dulcimer)
Dean Tomasek (bass)
Keith Brogdon (drums)
These things are all true: (1) There really are rock and roll bands in Nashville, TN; (2) Bobby Bare, Jr., really was nominated for a Grammy at age seven; (3) You really can play the dulcimer through a distortion pedal.
Bare Jr. is a band. Bobby Bare, Jr., is the singer in that band. He's also a bicycle technician, an expert in stage lighting, the proud owner of one of Waylon Jennings' decommissioned basses, a veteran Kinko's employee, a college graduate, and so alarmingly nice that his current ex-girlfriend still does his laundry.
Bare Jr., is a rock band of the first order. Tomasek and Brogdon are a veteran rhythm section (Bobby used to do lights for one of their previous bands) given to collecting and worshipping classic 1960s garage punk. Grimey, the self-described "total musical slut" and one-time Sony Music employee, plays guitar in his pajamas. Well, on stage anyway. (What he's wearing at home, nobody asks; he and Bobby used to be roommates.) Hackney's been studying dulcimer with the legendary David Schnauffer for years, but he and Bobby met at the bike shop where they both worked.
A rock band of unusual dimension, as Bare, Jr. prove on their Immortal/Epic debut, Boo-Tay. Half the guitar solos are really Hackney's dulcimer crashing through the speakers. Papa Bare sings backup (along with Carrie Akre, from Goodness) on "Love-Less." Shel Silverstein (author of "A Boy Named Sue," among other classics) co-wrote "I Hate Myself." Andy Wallace mixed "You Blew Me Off." (The next line? "And it turned me on." This is what comes of growing up next to George and Tammy.) Peter Collins (Indigo Girls,Queensrÿche, Suicidal Tendencies, Jewel) produced.
An unusual rock band. Bobby wrote songs for years, back when he was in bad bands playing bad music for bad people. A string of DUIs, followed by jail and rehab, scared Bobby away from the drinking and back to his guitar. Eventually he wrote a couple songs he was willing to share and played them for Tomasek. Tomasek thought they were worth fleshing out and playing for the next 30 years, so he drafted Brogdon to fill out the rhythm section. That transformed Bare's songs from confessional shuffles to rollicking rockers.
Hackney caught the embryonic band one night and told Bobby (while they were riding bikes through the woods the next week) that it almost made him want to play guitar again. Only guitar wasn't really Hackney's instrument of choice anymore, so they made him drag the dulcimer to practice and drafted Grimey on guitar from one of the bands they'd blown off the stage. (Sing along, now: "You blew me off / It turned me on!")
Right about then folks started noticing. Rounds of free dinners and firm handshakes followed, culminating (happily enough) in Bare Jr.'s freshly minted debut album.
And Boo-Tay rocks. From the opening "Nothing Better To Do" (with the immortal line "You dig me more than I dig myself" ) to the closing "Pearl," Bare Jr. have produced a splendid, joyous set of songs. OK, they're full of requisite self-loathing, which impulse will explain some of the phone messages sprinkled in. But it's really fun self-loathing, tongue planted firmly in cheek. Guard your speakers at all times.