Steelbridge Songfest 2017

Hey all!  The invitations came out - and once again, honored and humbled - Barrett has been invited back to participate in the 'Construction Zone' songwriting collaborative project at The Holiday Music Motel, in beautiful Sturgeon Bay, WI.  Over the past 4 years, Barrett has participated in most of these uber creative events, bringing back fresh songs that have gone on to join The Hidden Agenda's songbook.  Originally invited as a stranger & songwriter in February 2014, Barrett has expanded his contributions as a multi-instrumentalist, studio/mixing/live engineer, and multi-media artist.  More than anything, bonds are built that have now become family - pAt, mj, tony, and the locals; Teflon, Zach, Hoover, kelliot, ty, now Cathy, and so many more... ...each talented in their own right, deserving of your interest.  That's not even to mention the many that come from across this land to attend these fests.  I could ramble all day.

Just do yourself a favor; treat yourself and those you love to a long weekend in door county, WI.


Steelbridge Songfest

June 8-11, 2017

Sturgeon Bay, WI


BHA has been getting together to finish that pAt tune.  Barrett's pumped out a batch of new fun rock songs for the band to break out!  Word is that pAt tribute disk will be released at Steelbridge Songfest in Sturgeon Bay, WI in June.  We've also been working on establishing a new residency for BHA.  We had a blast at Lonie's last year, look forward to getting back there... ...yet, another neighborhood calls!  Keep ya posted on this!

Happy New Year!!

Hope that 2017 has already brought you great things and warmth.

BHA continues to chip at the bit of making our first record - all in house.  Barrett's also been recruited to play guitar, keys, and sing in, "Stephan Cooper & Nobody Famous."  Jon's practice has been growing, and actually gives him more freedom to be composing new tunes for the next influx in the BHA songbook.  Cheryl has enjoyed NAMM on behalf of Shure microphones- be sure to follow her on the social media networks!  Keith has been an endless boon of energy and joy at School of Rock, all while reworking and tuning up the house kit for SuperHero Audio - the home studio of Barrett's Hidden Agenda.  Andrew has been filling up his time teaching the youth of Chicago's suburbs and raising his puppy into an incredible animal.  After a week or so staying with Barrett over the holidays, Sarah and her other half - Charlie, have been on the road as "Sugar Still."  Their record will drop March 1st, aptly titled "GO" - as those two have been non-stop since they started touring 2 years ago.  Be sure to check them out as they pass through your town. 

As the blueprint sound of BHA is being put to record, a collection of tunes from over a decade of writing, another batch is already being pushed into the band.  It brings much joy to know that the following records will not take this much time to capture, and finesse into the ultimate sonic experience for BHA fans and listeners.  

We appreciate your patience and excitement. 

Much Love,  Barrett's Hidden Agenda


Sure, 2016 had some downs, some outs, and some heavy losses, but WE'RE ALIVE.  That's worth a LOT.  As a group, we can't wait to dive into 2017.  Our last show of 2016 (last week) was a true blast.  Friends and family came out, we found some great music supporters in the community that want to help BHA grow.  So, we've been hunkering down, working on the finishing touches of the album, with most of the layout already to go.

We're itching to get the new songs onto it, and we just might... ...without slowing the process down.  We do have to do some tracking, for our contribution to pAt mAcdonald's VOL.III tribute disk.  We're tackling our second Timbuk 3 track from his past.  We brought "I Need You" to new sonic heights for VOL. II, and had so much fun toying with it, we re-recorded an entirely different version of it that we are also submitting for the third installation towards this american under-the-radar songwriter on the same level as the greats.

We do want to thank YOU for listening, caring, loving, and living.  Most importantly, for taking the time in your busy day, life, and mind, to enjoy our music.  We hope you find joy and inspiration in our sounds.  I know for me (and us) i find much relief in making this music in the studio, and live.

Once again, we thank you, and are honored to get your ears.  Happy Holicraze.

Barrett's Hidden Agenda


Two weeks on the road with Wifee and Huzzband (Barrett on keys) brought some quality jams and mileage in. St Louis, Austin, Houston, New Orleans, Lafayette, Chicago, Door County WI all in the mix. Got to spend some time with American songwriting treasures Dave Bartholomew, his son Don, and grand kids whom corner the market in Trap Beats. Not to mention a catch up session with pAt MAcdonald and Mj.  


Now or back on the road - this time on the west coast. Gigs, studio, and filming with Eric McFadden, Angelo Moore (fishbone) and Queen Delphine's new project "TastyFace."  We'll be playing Stillwater Music in Mill Valley, CA. (Owned by members of the Grateful Dead?) Then we head down to LA for the last Lagunita's Beer Circus of the year.  Pretty excited to be jamming it out with these folks.  

All this action slows The Agenda down?  I Don't Think So!!!!!!!!  Andrew, Jon, and Barrett got the jams on this week, and looked at what remains for the BHA album. Added to this, we've been invited to contribute a track to yet another pAt MAcdonald tribute disk (Vol. III) and are working on that.  


Needless to say, before we know it, the holidaze will be upon us, and it'll be 2017.  

Crazy October!!!

After a fun summer, and monthly appearances at Lonie Walker's Underground Wonderbar... ...the band is looking inward - refocused on finishing the record and getting the best foot forward for 2017 with renewed energy!  Shopping studio time for early November to add a few more options of songs for the record, October is going to be crazy.  Barrett will be on the road with Wifee and the Huzzband for 2 weeks, and ends the month at The Holiday Music Motel's"Dark Songs."  After sitting in with Eric McFadden at Lagunita's Beer Circus, there's a chance he'll fly out to San Fran for the Beer Circus there, too.  Keith and Andrew are settling into the new semester of teaching the youth how to rock, while Jon and Cheryl 'tend to their biz-nass.'  Sarah's on the road with Charlie (aka Sugar Still) basically til the end of the year, with a week blocked out in December to contribute her parts to the BHA record.

As always, we are so thankful for your support, the attention, the ears you lend us on our journey towards music blissfulness.  You can help us by sharing our music, or simply dropping a line and saying, "Hey."  If you really want to help us you can raise the bar and support our craft here:

T. Bone Burnett just spoke inspiringly at the AMA's about how important creativity is.  Be a part of it, support it, go see live music, go to an art show, see a play.  You'll feel better and so will everyone involved.

Talk ta ya soonish, See ya on the social medias....

Where has the summer gone???

Wowza!!! The last 3 months have just blurrrrrred right by!

Our monthly stand at Lonie Walker's Underground Wonderbar continues to be a BLAST.  Our show at Chicago's best street fest - Glenwood Ave. Arts Festival - was a hoot and a half.  Our friend Zach (School of Rock, Mad Hornet, The Reunion) filled in on keys, as Andrew has been teaching up a storm all summer long.  Jon has established his own firm, lawyering it up... ...let him know if you need anything litigated.  Sarah has been in and out of Chicago a few times now, still touring with Sugar Still, but she'll be back for the September show at Lonie's.  (Sept 7)  Cheryl had a major promotion at Shure Microphones, and has filled up her singing calendar with an all female BeeGee's tribute act, among other projects.  Keith continues to rock out with the youngin's at School of Rock Chicago.  And what about Barrett you ask?  Well, he's been a traveling man as the keyboardist for Wifee and the Huzzband - Wisconsin's premiere 10 piece horn band.  They just booked a 3 week tour for the fall, so he'll continue to be in and out of Chicagoland himself.

In other news, SuperHero Audio continues work on the Barrett's Hidden Agenda record.  Final tracking will be done over the next month, with mixing and artwork/layout to follow.  The last few sessions were Sarah layering fiddle on Jon Roger's newest track, "Walkin' with the Devil," and Barrett's tune written from depths of drunken stupor while falling in love in New Orleans, "Whiskey Makes Me Think of You."

As we shift gears into the fall, we look forward to gigging more, and adding to the catalog with new Jon tunes, Sarah tunes, a track written for Cheryl, and batch of Barrett jams.

Steelbridge SongFest 11

Barrett and Sarah are humbled, honored, and can't wait to participate in SBSF11.  They've been invited to be a part of the songwriting via spin-the-bottle in the week long "Construction Zone" that culminates in 2 shows at Third Ave Playhouse in Sturgeon Bay, WI.  The door to Door County, this town becomes a midwest epicenter of music from June 9-12th.  Bands and musicians come from all over the world to participate in this amazing one-of-a-kind festival.  We can tell you enough about it - you'll just have to come and see, hear, dance and be merry for a long weekend.  Book your rooms now!

That was FUN!!!

Friday Night at The Sett (UofW-Madison South Union) Devil to Drag set the stage with a killer opening set, and we took it from there.  Managing to start early, we had the chance to stretch out the jams, dig deeper into the grooves, and take tunes to places they've never been.  The debut of Steelbridge Songfest 10's "The Jesus Gonna See You Naked" broke out as a fave.  The end jam to "Reds were Blue" has always been a place for musical exploration, and true to living in the moment - the band went into new space and keyed into a melody that will surely become something on it's own.  Clearly the freedom placed within this new jam allowed for interplay between Jon and Keith as much as melodic tomfoolery 'tween Andrew and Barrett.  Cheryl's take on "Medicine" took the crowds ears to a new level... ...and her version of Jon's "Dopamine" helped establish the vibe of the show early on.

This capped off a few weeks of BHA intensity that is becoming the standard for us.  Hold on to your ears, and we'll see you June 1 at Lonies!!!

Been a while... ...see you wednesday!

Here we go again - at Lonie Walker's Underground Wonder Bar - This Wednesday at 8pm, Barrett's Hidden Agenda will hit the stage.  After some time off, we've got some new cuts to bring in and stretch out on the stage.  We've been super busy finishing up this record and prepping for the spring/summer shows.  We can't wait to test the waters with these new tunes, hopefully you can make it - or send someone to periscope it for ya!

Stretching it out on a snowy Wednesday

Torrential winds and snow came down all afternoon, but my show time the snow stopped and had been plowed.  It was actually warm enough for us chicagoans to stand outside comfortably.  None-the-less, I-65 had been shuttered for the day, and fill-in-fiddler Lucia was stranded (safely at a friends house) in Indiana.  Last we checked, on social media, Sarah was in Taos at 'yet another brewery' ripping it up with her partner in crime as 'Sugar Still.'  Fiddler or not, the BHA show goes on.

As we were asked to strike it up for soundcheck, Andrew came in and flung us into a two chord vamp jam.  It was so nice to have good sound, not have to work hard at it, never chasing the songs, and clearly entertaining all.  Few friends filtered in during the first set, more during the second.  Those that came early for Lonie's late nite were obviously into what we were laying down.  The turn in weather earlier in the day made it's mark... was just going to be a thin evening.  Small but mighty the cheers came, leading us into the next song, extending solos, and pushing the jam sections of songs into new places.

Jon really opened up "Catch Afire" for Barrett to go on with the slide and e-bow combo, getting comments later from fans about how it brought them back to the Pink Floyd Pompeii show.  Cheryl brought the house down, as always, on her rock n roll numbers.  Interplay between Andrew Jon and Barrett became a round robin of sorts on extended solo sections, and at some points Keith jumped into the mix.  "Down South in New Orleans" was quite the rhythm sections prowess in vibe.

The comfort and ease in which the band has taken to playing at Lonie Walker's Underground Wonder Bar lead to freedom in the music not heard since the Lincoln Square Lanes shows.  Refreshing to hear it all stretched out on a winter's snowy Wednesday evening.

Barrett's #Songfamily Strikes again!

Every 4 months or so, Barrett disappears to "Spin-the-bottle" songwriting construction zone at The Holiday Music Motel, in historic Sturgeon Bay, WI.  As the entrance to the Door County peninsula, Sturgeon Bay is a meeting point of the ship working industry, arts hub, and tourist town.  In the dead of winter it seems sleepy, but don't be fooled!  Behind most barroom doors are musicians worth listening to.  Wednesday at Butch's (Local #333 Musicians Non-Union), Thursday at the Tambourine Lounge (Songwriters Night) and regular entertainment from all over Wisconsin and the Mid-West cover the weekends at Brick Lot, Red Room, and the like.  The Holiday Music Motel is seemingly the center piece of this scene.  After saving the bridge into town (Steelbridge Songfest) they've continued to host and expand these songwriting week long writing and recording sessions.  This "Love on Holiday 5" was Barrett's seventh songwriting festival.  Participating as a writer, multi-instrumentalist enabler, and audio engineer - there's no part of this social, communal, creative environment he doesn't thrive in.  These fests have yielded Barrett's Hidden Agenda staples such as "Blood in the River" and "Dumb Down."  At this point, the back log of tunes from these fests could create it's own record for the band to put out, honoring the fests, songs co-writers, and creative director of the events: pAt mAcdonald.  He wouldn't be running these fests without melaniejane, an amazing talent in her own right, but together as "purgatory hill" they raise the bar of stomp, swampy, character fueled, blues based rock that takes you back to Robert Johnson, and forward to uncharted waters.  Needless to say, Barrett is recharged from a week in the sun (Phoeniz, AZ) and a week in below zero temps (Sturgeon Bay, WI) and is charging forward with the next phase for the BHA story.

Barrett's bottle spins yielded 2 drastically different tunes.  With Jerod K and Nici Pepper a female mantra empowerment opus was composed in a Fela Kuti style, "Hoja Mwili."  Meaning 'move your body' in Swahili, it was drawn out of an art piece by Jeanie Kuhns.  The other, also with Jerod K, but with Matt Spotal, an 'on the edge' love song, "Gonna Fill Your Hole" was written.  pAt's comment was it's very funky, but Frank Zappa-esque.  More than likely, "Hole" will wind up in the BHA setlist, as it's quite the jam.  Besides the joy of creating and layering with the talent pool at hand, an honor was bestowed onto both tracks - closing out the Friday night(Gonna Fill Your Hole) and Saturday night (Hoja Mwili) live performances of the songs composed during the week at Third Ave. Playhouse.

If you haven't already, book yourself a room for Steelbridge Songfest 11, June 9-12 in Sturgeon Bay, WI, DO SO NOW!  You won't regret it, and you'll blown away by the community and the music, some of which will be written THAT WEEK.

Lonie's on a friday night...

Caught the solo act's last song, grand piano pushing out chords and stellar vocals.  (Nothing but covers, paying tribute to her favorites.)  Followed by an awesome goodtime dance band.  Rockin' out the beats and getting the butts to shake... ...mostly covers, paying tributes to the lead singer's favs.  They closed super strong with an original, introducing every member of the group.  The crowd encouraged 'one more song' and they bust into a Billie Jean cover that had all the right parts being played, but the jam wasn't in it.  They left the stage in turmoil for the sound guy to work out for us.  Let's just say i'm continually amazed at this band, Barrett's Hidden Agenda, in this case it was the ability to overcome.  To hurry up and wait, to be patient, kind professionals, and once given the green light - to BRING IT.  "Blood in the River" shook the room.  The bobbing heads, the stomping feet, the hands clapping all in the gravel time that is the bed in the track raised the band up for the rest of the set.  We pushed the boundaries in Jon Rogers' cut "Catch Afire," and anytime Andrew Doney gets to play a grand piano is well, grand! Cheryl's feature cuts where just downright awesome.  Her vocal prowess and stage presence can be such a needed anchor for the group.

After we finished, Lonie was getting her Big Baddass Band to sound check.  She did her thing, and came back down while sound was being dialed in on the other instruments.  

"I can't believe you guys, Barrett.  You did your full set without monitors?!? The vocals were so well blended, in pitch, and the band was so freakin' TIGHT."  She said to me.  I think she was more excited then i was over our set.  She is such an appreciator and facilitator of art as a whole.  She knows the craftmanship that goes into each song, let alone the effort and time it takes to put it all into one set.

Most of us hung out into the wee hours of the morning listening to Lonie and Co. jam it out.  From jazz to NOLA funk, that band's got it.  Lot of inspiration and perspiration in each tune they play, and it all seems so effortless.

Can't wait to bring BHA back to Lonie's for a couple of sets, hopefully regularly.  Keep ya posted.

Tonite!!! - and moving forward...

Man-o-man-o-friend of mine!  We've been looking forward to this evening for sometime.  Sure, Barrett's played solo at Lonie Walker's Underground Lounge a couple of times - once this past novemeber, then previous like --- 8 YEARS AGO!  But for the whole band to BRING it, now this is going to be the sh*t!  We just adore Lonie, and her joint.  It's almost like a transporter to New Orleans, it's mojo just seeps music and vibe.  If you break it down, it's nothing fancy, it's actually considered a dive-y-er/borderline seedy bar for the neighborhood. (Posh high end retail touristy River North) But it overcomes all that, drenched in a storied past, looking forward to new music, always welcoming, open to all genres, Lonie's really is a refuge for artist and musicians alike.  Then you add the kitchen - wow!  It's a listening room as much as a party room, it's as much NOLA as it is midwest.  Obviously, we're fans, and think you'll be too if you pop in.

There's been some behind the scenes rumblings and happenings that are all good and will bring more BHA in 2016, and even begins to set 2017 into motion.  An EP under our belt, we're going big this year, we're looking at merch, a full CD, vinyl, DVD, photo shoot, and get out into the midwest and play.  If you can't come to chicago, we'll do our damnest to come to you.  As aways, we encourage people to say hello and spew ideas at us!

Hope to seeya tonite!

Vocals - CHECK!

Holy wowza late night envelop pushing session batman!  Andrew Doney is the hidden dude in the Hidden Agenda.  I'm consistently floored by his music mind, and approach to sounds, and realistic honesty to accomplish a given musical task.  That guy has more understanding about the vocal instrument then anyone i know.  He knows the muscles, the names of sonic elements in singing that i've never heard of.  He had me make sounds i've never made, approach 'pushing air' like i've never done before.  Needless to say, i'm beyond thankful, wow'ed and proud that i 'conviced him to join the band' as he puts it.

"Talking to the Trains" started it's origin years before this band existed.  A direct reaction to losing my older brother, Josh, tragically and suddenly.  To this day i hold dear to the lyrics and progression.  As a full complete composition, i couldn't be prouder.  In a previous band with Keith, "Micki and the Good Name Band," he always claimed it was confusing and inconsistent.  We never tried to chart it out, just go by feel.  I was coming off of a 7+ year jam band project that was all about feel.  With BHA's approach, we actually put this song together in a way that made it better as a whole - and pulled at some of the 'unknown direction' that was always a potential in it.  Because of the emotional history i have invested in the tune, it's so hard for me to let go, but i trust and love these people more than chords can say.  It was a 3+ hour vocal session, and Andrew pulled out of me some of the best singing i've ever done.  I'm giving it a few days to sink in, and come back with fresh engineer ears to dial it in.  It's amazing to let something go, give it to your music family, have them play with it in the sandbox, put it back together and give it back... ...only to push you to raise the bar in your contribution to the track.  I can't wait to share it with you all.

"...and when those big rocks dissolve into salt, i'll finally be content with where i'm at & what i've got."  - Barrett, from 'Talking to the Trains'

Last Night & Tonight

You know you uncover parts of your life when you clean the basement, that's usually why we put it off.  I went through around a decade worth of paper, ticket stubs, wristbands, backstage passes, set-lists, charts, lyrics, potential songs, song books, CD's, and photos last night.  I discovered tunes and ideas i hadn't thought of in years.  It's actually pretty cool once you turn off a certain amount of remorse/regret/ghost of the past emotions.  Filtered out all the old bills and threw out 10 yrs. of baggage, foldered and filed away countless 'archive' materials for my son to throw out years from now, from previous bands (I had 12 piles working at one point) and focused on the potential treasures to bring to Barrett's Hidden Agenda.

Then i found a tape labeled 'Semi-Decent 8 Trax Mixdowns.'  No year marked.  Ya, read that again - "Tape" and "Semi-Decent" - basically static and instruments overlayed fighting to get through the speaker and heard, occasionally with understandable lyrics.  One of the songs goes back to my first foray into songwriting.  The song, "Dreaming of Pictures of the Grand Canyon" just turned 20 years old last month.  Another track is an instrumental cover of "Witchi Tai Tai," a native american chant recorded in the 60's that my father heard and loved, but couldn't find any info on.  He didn't seek it out, but was always on the look/listen out for it for say, 30 years, and finally heard it in background to a scene in a movie.  (Sleepers???)  He sat 'til the end for the credits, and charged me with the mission to find the song.  This was in the early days of the internet, and took long loading times, and days of searching to find it.  The only CD release of it was on a folk label's box set.  Needless to say, he bought it, shipped to the house - could've been my first online and Amazon purchase! Being a chant, it's the same progression repeated.  He was awestruck when i played along with it by the third go round.  Might've been a moment for him, like when you realize your child is actually doing something you'll never be able to do, as a person in their own right.  I don't know, i'm projecting here.  Anyways, it was really neat to hear early engineering and song-crafting of mine from when i was 17, and how far i've come along.

Tonight, Andrew will produce the vocals to, "Talking to the Trains."  The final tracks to be laid down on this batch of songs, bringing the album one step close to print.

 Baby steps are still walking.

Jan 14th Canceled

Due to some conflicts, the January 14th show at Chop Shop/1st Ward has been canceled.  We are working out another date with the venue, and really look forward to playing there.  Thank you to those that had already RSVP'd via  If you don't use that site/app, you should check it out, great way to find bands playing tonight and into the future.  We use it, super simple, and helps us show venues that we bring it!

Thanks for understanding and your constant support!


All contents property of Barrett's Hidden Agenda (BHA LLC), All photos by Phil Stosur