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A humble Barber better get used to acclaim

The Royale, Boston, March 25, 2024

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Sam Barber may not be a big, ego guy jumping all over the stage. So, it's almost surprising to see his name in big red letters on a black screen behind him. After all, we knew who we were going to see. That's why the show was sold out weeks in advance.

Despite his rising status or perhaps because of it, the Missouri native was a bit hidden throughout the night, pulling a baseball cap over his head while singing his country/Americana songs.

Maybe it's all part of the growth of a performer – after all, Barber turns 21 next week and hasn't been doing this for all that long. He said at one point that he'd only been playing since he was 17.

But the word is most definitely out about him though – and deservedly so - because the entire tour was sold out in advance with several upgrades to larger venues, including this one, more than doubling the size of the crowd.

What he did do was really really good and hit home minus an incident involving the stupidity of one "fan."

Barber hails from the Zach Bryan school of country. Fiddle and occasional banjo were part of the sonics. And when you play "Jersey Giant," an unreleased Tyler Childers song, you know exactly where Barber is coming from.

He doesn't have quite the vocal grit of Bryan, but he comes close, singing with an authenticity and believability throughout ("Dancing in the Sky").

This was an all-acoustic affair save for the bassist. Barber got the ball rolling coming out solo with "Million Eyes" with the opening lines as easily transportable to his current musical status as the relationship in the song ("I don't know where I'm goin', but this road I'm on/Is takin' me to places I've never been").

Barber is kind of a plain folks, small town guy. He sings of days gone by in "Ghost Town."

It may have taken a bit to really shine, but fiddle player Luisa Marion had more and more of a prominent role as the show rolled on. She also had a vocal turn on "Restless Mind," making for a nice contrast with the rest of the set.

Seth Taylor gave the songs a lot of muscle with strong-armed acoustic guitar and very occasional banjo, while Kenny McGowan set the beat.

As for the stupidity, well into the show, someone throw a small bottle at the stage, hitting Barber's guitar and cracking it, much to Barber and the crowd's displeasure. "My guitar means everything to me," said Barber. A few minutes later, he lamented the incident again, and at the end of the night, thanked the responsible fans in the crowd, which was pretty much everybody minus one. He apologized, saying, "I'm sorry about being upset at the end." Hey, it wasn't his fault, but humbleness is part of who Barber is.

While that put a damper on the night for Barber no doubt, that was about the only negative. Barber's been getting more and more attention. It's easy to see why. Ego or not, he better get used to it.

Elliott Greer opened the show with a solo acoustic folk/singer-songwriter set. The New York City-based-by-way-of-Scotland was comfortable singing his mainly downer songs (he did offer one positive, wedding-type song). His full-bodied voice easily filled the room.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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