Since March of last year I’ve been working with Mike Farley at Michael J. Media. He’s set me up with quite a few artists over the years, but even more so now that we’re dealing with the pandemic. One of the other workers at his PR firm, Matt Kelly, contacted me via email about a band they are representing called The Barlow. He sent a link to their soon-to-be-released sophomore album called “Horseshow Lounge.” As soon as I listened to it, I knew I had to chat with a member of the group. Matt set up a time for me to call Shea Boynton, guitarist and lead singer of the band, and on Jan. 28th I gave him a call. I began by asking him where I was reaching him.
Boynton: Colorado. Where are you calling from?

Q: A little town called Sweden in Maine, right near the border of New Hampshire.
Boynton: I’m actually from Maine.

Q: Really? What part?
Boynton: I was born in ’85 and we lived in Eliot, over by Kittery there. I was actually born in Dover because that was the closest hospital. When I was 6 we moved out west, my dad was a carpenter and back in the early 90s the economy was kind of kaput, so he moved us out west so he could work. We were here for a couple of years and then my parents split up. … My dad went back; my mom stayed in Colorado, and so I moved with him to Windham. I was there for fourth grade; then we moved to Berwick when I was in fifth grade. Aafter that I moved back to Colorado with my mom through middle school and high school. After high school a couple of years passed, and then I went back to Maine, lived with my dad for a while just working. So, yeah, it was crazy, but Maine’s home, man.

Q: Well, I’ll be damned — it’s a small world after all, to quote Disney!
Boynton: Yeah, when Matt reached out yesterday — he thought you were out of Bangor — he said, “Oh, somebody’s calling you from Bangor, Maine, tomorrow morning,” and I said, “Perfect, those are my people!” (Laughter)

Q: Man, this is a real, unexpected treat, you being a Mainer and all. It’s funny, too, because I’ve worked with Mike for years and years and he’s always sending me music he thinks I’ll like. So when he sent that link to your second album, I got two songs into it and fired an email back requesting an interview with a band member.
Boynton: Thank you.

Q: Well, your sound reminds me of a couple of my favorite groups: Pure Prairie League, Timberline and The Desert Rose Band. You guys have the same close vocal harmonies, solid musicianship and engaging lyrics — in short, it trips every trigger I’ve got!
Boynton: Awesome, man, that’s good to hear!

Q: When did The Barlow start up?
Boynton: In late 2017.

Q: Do you get out on the road much?
Boynton: We were, pre-COVID. We play around Colorado a lot; it’s a pretty good-sized state. We play a lot of mountain towns, and we also play all the surrounding states. As for going on month-long tours, no. We might do a Thursday-through-Sunday run or a Friday-through-Saturday run type of deal. We’ll go to West Texas or Wyoming or Nebraska or wherever, you know? Somewhere that’s within reach that we can drive out, play gigs and then get home on Sunday.

Q: So, the band is not your only gig?
Boynton: Yeah, we all have day jobs; I work in the oil and gas industry.

Q: Do you have any aspirations of going full-time into music?
Boynton: We’d love to. I mean, yeah, that would be the goal for all of us, but we’ve all got families. We’re older; we’re in our mid-30s now, so we have mouths to feed and stuff like that. But, yeah, if the opportunity was right and everybody was comfortable doing it, of course, then by all means.

Q: Let’s talk a little about this new album, if you don’t mind.
Boynton: Well, it was all pretty much self-recorded, self-produced. We kind of hang our hats on that; we take pride in that. The technology’s gotten so good that it’s a lot more accessible and user-friendly to guys like us.

Q: Let’s run through the members of The Barlow. There’s you on guitar and then there’s Ben Richter?
Boynton: Yup, he’s the drummer.

Q: Brad Johnson?
Boynton: He’s a guitar player.

Q: And Troy Scoope?
Boynton: He’s the bass player, and then Andy Schneider is kind of our fifth guy. He’s not in all the promo stuff, but he’s still very much involved. He’s keys and backing vocals.

Q: Just out of curiosity, how are you guys doing during this pandemic, other than not being able to tour?
Boynton: Yeah, we were pretty well booked solid last year, comparatively to what we normally do. But everything got canceled and we ended up playing two shows last year. We played in February, and then we played in Nebraska in July. That was it. When COVID hit we were probably halfway through the album, and we figured, “What the hell, we’ll just focus on this!” I finished writing everything, and then we just kind of kept chipping away at getting the recording done. So it was what it was. There was still work to do; it was just different.

Q: Does anybody else write, are you the principle songwriter?
Boynton: I’m the primary songwriter, yup … and I’m the lead vocalist, too.

Q: You mentioned Andy Schneider did backing vocals along with keyboard — do any of the other members do backing vocals?
Boynton: Well, when we play live, Ben and Brad both sing a little bit (chuckle). On the record it’s all Andy.

Q: Does Troy contribute to the harmonies?
Boynton: No, he just plays bass.

Q: Now, I know that pigeon-holing a band into any one genre isn’t all that cool, but in the news release the phrase “Colorado Country” is mentioned.
Boynton: “Colorado Country” we kind of coined. … What that means is up to interpretation and has yet to be defined (chuckle).

Q: I know it’s probably impossible but it would be neat if The Barlow could play up here in Maine.
Boynton: I would love to, man. Honestly it’s a dream of mine to come and tour the northeast with this band. Maybe one day, but I would love to make it up that way. We have some connections in eastern Pennsylvania. We’ve actually talked about going, but we obviously have to let COVID shake out. Yeah, I’d love to come to the northeast and play around. That would be awesome.

Lucky Clark has spent over 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

 

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