Filtering by Tag: 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

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.

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.

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.

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