Long Bio: 2017
Just as the springtime shows new life to our world, so too is this season unveiling the new colors of North Carolina recording artist, Hank Barbee. The release of Son Royale in early 2017 has shown the songwriter to be breaking new ground and uncovering a bit more of his delicate side. A new direction in the works, possibly? This wouldn’t be the first time he's had to recalibrate. Hank Barbee has taken some long, hard roads to wind up coastal again, and back at the home of his roots.
Hank's love for the guitar began at an early age, probably sparked by hearing Doc Watson on vinyl record albums. His dad played the guitar so it was easy for Hank to pick it up around the age of 10, and by 15 he had scored his first paying gig. After high school, a strategic move made Atlanta, GA 'home base' for a number of years. This was where he earned his badge as a consummate sideman, multi-instrumentalist, and eventually a bandleader for a few class acts around the southeast.
Fast forward through some years in a dog-eat-dog business of decadent living, late nights, and shady characters, Hank grew disenchanted with all that his life and music had become. Either death or sobriety seemed imminent in 2008. So with his career on an indefinite hiatus and a great will to change, he manifested his new self in the latter. Personal journaling gave way to late night songwriting. Compositions of great beauty and depth became evident to such a point that it only seemed right to go in the studio and give light to this new incarnation of artistry.
In those formative and working years, Hank had developed a playing style much his own; an interesting evolution that combined dirty blues, roots-rock, thumb-style (Travis picking), surf, dixieland and western swing. Put all of this in a pot with heavy life experiences and meaningful lyrical content, and what’s for dinner is a rich stew of the last 100+ years of American musical heritage.
Since those dark days, Hank has released 3 full length albums on his own label, Eleven O’Clock Records, as well as donating two original songs to an album project titled We Are Not Saints: A Compilation (2015, Magoo Productions). That recording was produced by a ‘family’ of Atlanta artists/songwriters to raise awareness and money to benefit addiction/recovery efforts in their local communities. This is a cause that, for obvious reasons, was very close to Hank’s heart. You can listen to these tracks right here on the site-wide music player; look for “Nevermind” and “Stowaway” in the playlist.
With the release of another top shelf effort in this year's Son Royale, it is evident that the creative process is alive and flourishing as Hank continues to grow his body of work. A healthy life and a new perspective seem to ensure that many in his path will have the opportunity to hear and connect with his message for a long time to come.