April 16, 2009


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Rattle the scene
Acoustic artist Scott Barnett finds his style
By Dana Unger dunger@hippopress.com

Manchester singer and songwriter Scott Barnett started his musical career a long way away from his eventual instrument of choice — the guitar — instead embracing club music and break-dancing at an early age.  But by the ’90s, the Seattle music sound was gaining momentum and Barnett found himself enamored of the music of that moment, particularly the band Pearl Jam. He started sitting in on musical jams at parties, and though he had the passion for music, he found himself lacking the skills.

“People would come up to me and say, ‘You’re good, but, dude, you gotta learn some theory,’” Barnett said in a March 19 interview. “I was kind of all over the place.”

While working at the Milford Lumber Company at the age of 22, he bought an old Yamaha guitar from a co-worker and dedicated himself to learning the instrument.

“The first night I had it, I slammed the door and told myself that I was going to learn to play and sing at the same time,” Barnett said. “These guys that make it pro at the age of 20 have been playing for 15, 18 years and I knew I needed to catch up.”

Now Barnett is a regular player around the southern New Hampshire area, both solo and with his band, performing at venues like The Green Martini, Milly’s Tavern and 603 Lounge, as well as Tupelo Music Hall. His musical style draws on influences like Dave Matthews, Martin Sexton, Ben Harper and Duncan Sheik, but his sound is hard for even him to pin down to one genre.

“To be honest, if I had to describe it to someone on the street, I’d say it’s very acoustic, rootsy, soulful, folky, but also funky and bluesy at the same time,” Barnett said. “I’m like a conduit — I’m just being honest with myself. I want to adapt to change, and who knows, in 20 years I may be playing jazz. Whatever comes out comes out — I try to keep it open.”

Barnett recently finished his first EP, Live at Thumbprint, which was also recorded on video with just two cameras and two microphones. Barnett said he wanted to use the live video recording as a way of booking more shows for himself. “I wanted to let them see what they are going to get when they book me,” he said.

Barnett is also set to release his full-length debut, Grand Facade, in the fall of this year, though he hasn’t confirmed where he’ll be recording it. He also plans to do a few mini-tours of New England this summer to expand his musical reach.

“I want to rattle the scene and make a presence,” Barnett said. “I want to start a wider fan base, but I realize that the more I travel out of my immediate scene here in southern New Hampshire, the more I’m back at square one, having to prove myself. But I’m optimistic. Good things are happening.”

Scott Barnett
Hear Barnett’s music at www.myspace.com/scottbarnettmusic. Upcoming shows include:
• Muddy River Smokehouse, Portsmouth, Thursday, April 23, at 8 p.m.
• Oyster River Festival in Durham, Saturday, May 9, at 3 p.m.
• Starbucks, Manchester, Thursday, May 14, at 6:30 p.m.
• Strange Brew, Manchester, Wednesday, June 10, at 9 p.m.