December 21, 2006

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New year's resolution: No more 80s
Barley House shakes up its musical lineup in January
By Erica Febre efebre@hippopress.com

As the new year gets closer, some new changes are being made at the Barley House in Concord. Manager Corey Garland, who books the bands, plans to bring the original music scene back to Concord.

"Concord lost its scene a long time ago. I've been working here since the opening in March of 2000. You hear the same thing every weekend. It's been blues band after blues band covering Mustang Sally and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Don't get me wrong, I love the '80s, but you'd be lucky to hear anything from after 1985. So, I started broadening the search," Garland said.

Already putting his plan to effect, Garland has weeded out the brew of cover bands that have been playing the Barley House on a regular basis. For some, the change is troubling.

"The old bands that are used to playing here have been asking when we're going to set up a new schedule. So, I've been telling them that we're going in a new direction now ... moving onward and upward," Garland said.

"We've had a lot of great bands over the years, but people were coming in here for dinner or a drink, while a band just happened to be playing. I want to have people come in for the bands," he said.

With a lineup set for the trial run, Garland said it's just that, a trial, but he hopes his plans will succeed. With the help of a friend (Kevin Baker of Boston Eventworks) Garland plans to bring in all-original bands with a variety of sounds.

The new year will bring in a string of original genres, ranging from indie rock to funk, bluegrass, New Orleans-style jazz and old-school blues. Absolutely no more of the '80s blues, though. He even plans to open the doors to hip-hop.

He emphasizes, though, for anyone who feels nervous about the idea of bringing hip-hop to Concord, that this will not be "gangsta rap" but "upbeat live instruments, tastefully lying underneath intelligent, sometimes political, spoken word."

"I'm not afraid of bringing in new genres. That's one thing here. We like to try new things new food, new beer, new wine, new drafts. So we're going to try this new music thing out," Garland said.

Never before has the Barley House featured a live hip-hop act of any sort. It's always been known for blues cover bands. The fact of the matter is, according to Garland, the blues cover bands have done great for years, but are now redundant.

Along with changes in the music arrangement, there will be some changes to the structure of the Barley House. As of now, bands play in the same area as the dining room. Garland believes this is driving a lot of the dinner guests away.

To accommodate to those who just want to enjoy a quiet meal, bands will be moved to the downstairs area. This will allow more room for dancing and roaming for people who come for the music and also keep that crowd separate from the dinner crowd.

"They can't hear their conversations, you know. So, for now, we're going to have the bands start out with an acoustic set, so hopefully it won't drive away the dinner crowd as soon as they hear the sound check,” Garland said.

All of these plans will go into full effect in January, as long as everything remains on schedule. As of the end of December, the original bands are already beginning to replace the cover bands.

"I just want the live-music-loving people to know they have a place in Concord to go," Garland said.

"Nothing is definite, though. But, I'm hoping this will work out. If it doesn't work out, we may have to make some more changes in the middle of the year," he said.

Brand new sound
What: All-original music
Where: The Barley House, 132 N. Main St., Concord, 228-6363
For more information: Schedules and music samples are being posted at myspace.com/concordbarley, or go to thebarleyhouse.com.