Hank Barbee & The Dust Parade announce limited release of their highly anticipated new project titled Son Royale. The album showcases ten original compositions and rewards fans with a bonus track upon purchase. It is available directly through the artist’s label, Eleven O’Clock Records, until July 7, 2017 when Son Royale goes worldwide to digital stores and streaming providers. Also to be made available in July, a limited edition run of ‘golden sunset vinyl’ will be offered exclusively to fans on the Hank Barbee email list. Sign up at hankbarbee.com to have the first chance at purchasing these collector’s items.
It’s always an interesting weave of lives and events that bring people together for a common purpose. In March of 2014 a chance meeting brought Barbee face to face with soon to be brother-in-music and lifelong friend, Brandon Hackler. It happened when he was in the midst of a move from Atlanta, GA back to coastal NC home of his roots; when at a songwriters showcase in Wilmington, he announced from the stage his plans to begin a new album project. After the show, a local studio guru promptly invited him to come by and tour a spot that was an underground favorite, also known for turning out quality productions and support for the indie artist. It was on this tour that Barbee and Hackler met face to face. They shook hands and immediately connected on a musical and personal level. By the following week the duo was laying down scratch demos of what would eventually become Son Royale.
With Barbes’s musical connections being tied primarily to his network of peers in Georgia, it was imperative that he find a backup rhythm section geographically closer to Wilmington. Brandon had just the guys. Enter Jordan Powers and Jack Foster. Powers and Hackler had already worked together as a production team known as Dynamic Soundworks. Foster was a long time cohort of the duo, and a veteran credited on several albums on the Dynamic Soundworks resume.
After connecting via email and chatting about the album’s vision, demos were exchanged and a “play date” was set up for Barbee, Powers, and Foster to meet. One Sunday evening after some weekend road shows, Hank pulled off the freeway and into a small rehearsal studio in Greensboro, NC. “I remember” he said, “I was plugging in my guitar amp and Jordan asked me what we needed to accomplish tonight.” I said, “I guess we are just here to audition each other and see if we wanna try to make a record together…” Without missing a beat, Jack Foster replied …“Well, we’ve heard all the demos bro and if we aren’t already on board to make a record with you, then we wouldn’t even be here right now.” Laughter ensued, the mood lightened and some great songs and friendships commenced.
Quickly it was arranged that Powers would play bass and sit in the producer seat alongside Barbee, to help map out the logistics of this endeavor. Foster would drum and bring his vast creative input. Hackler would oversee the engineering, recording and mixing of the project from start to finish.
After a short series of pre-production rehearsals, the quartet eventually sought a weekend refuge in Wilmington’s North Star Post & Sound. Drum tracks, bass lines and some rhythm guitars were recorded in two days. A week later the team set off to Dark Pines Studio outside of Graham, NC. A short run there added acoustic guitars, upright bass, piano, some electric guitars and moody fun with a real-life plate reverb. Things were coming together nicely.
The collective worked in short spurts over the next 18 months uniting, when schedules would align for several days here and there. Soon after they found themselves at the cusp of a beautiful work of art. Hank lobbied for the team to go record takes from some of his favorite Atlanta musicians; namely vocalists Tedra Chriss and April Merritt, and organ/key player Jeff Greenbaum. That was the finishing touch. Upon completion of a few days at ZAC Recording in Atlanta, the soul singers and Hammond B-3 organ had added just the right amount of old Georgia mojo back into the mix. It was ready for the final steps.
Hackler set about mixing the album, followed by a solid mastering job by Tom Waltz. Steps were taken to secure a painting by the world acclaimed NC artist Laura Gammons, whom Barbee felt had perfectly captured the essence of the album’s opening track, “Let It Breathe”, as well as the album’s vision and title. French for ‘the royal sound, the name Son Royale was given to the project, also inspired mainly by the depth and layer of sound on the album’s leading song. Gammons is credited with painting the front and back cover of the album, while Hackler is credited with designing the iconic Hank Barbee & The Dust Parade logo seen there. Together, the two created a distinctive look for this distinctive sound. What you behold now as Son Royale is a true art-album. Greensboro musician and graphic designer Alex McKinney pulled all these pieces together, designing the packaging and posters for final application.
Every song on Son Royale drives home the expressive lyrical and compositional talents of this Richlands, NC native. From the longing romanticism of “Banjolina”, told through its delicate acoustic timbres, to the sassy-soul of “Melody”, translated on a dirty slide guitar. Barbee has cataloged an impressive array of tunes. From a songwriting standpoint, “Both Sides of Love” and “Everywhere I Go” paint the artist as a true lyricist, while “Reflection” and “Fall” showcase his unique guitar style and arranging capabilities. It’s rare that all these attributes are contained inside a single human being and it’s likely that Son Royale will make this evident to critics and peers. But even beyond the technical accolades, infectious and catchy tracks, like “Can We Go Away”, “Collide”, and “If I Were a Groundhog”, should solidify that this record will live on constant rotation with listeners, never tiring of Hank’s personality and musical charm.
Son Royale is Hank Barbee’s second full length original music release. It is currently available for purchase alongside his 2012 debut album Hank Barbee and his 2013 side project recording Belle Vici. For more music and merchandise in his online store follow this link:
Even though his recordings are worth far more than the price of purchase, nothing compares to seeing the artist live and in person. For those interested in catching a show and purchasing Barbee’s special merchandise, only available at live performances, you can see Barbee at numerous places in the weeks ahead. Some of his stops include Morehead City, Beaufort, Jacksonville, New Bern, Wilmington, Southport, then off for the Florida spring tour sweeping across 30A, Santa Rosa, Pensacola, and Panama City Beach. Next, it’s off to Georgia in May, followed by NC festival performances lined up all summer. There will even be some shows in the foothills in the West. It just never stops with this troubadour! To keep up to speed, add this link to your favorites.
Be sure to visit his website, check out his lyrics there, and sign up for newsletters and updates; that’s where you can find everything you will need to know about this incredible NC artist!
Welcome to the Advocate’s Corner, a new feature where we can deal with the many frustrations of the music business by way of education. For example, I can’t tell you exactly how many people have mentioned it to me, but I will say that it’s more than several who’ve said, “Until I started reading your piece, I never noticed the tip jars that are out in front of so many performers.”
My role in supporting live music comes in various ways. I support it by watching a lot of it. I document it often too so to share publicly with others. I do this because these people pack up heavy equipment, spend hours away from home and rarely break even for their efforts. The only reason most musicians are playing is because it is the calling of their hearts. I believe every heart should be heard.
Speaking of hearing, it is rather difficult to hear entertainers when people insist on speaking above the entertainment. Quite frankly, if you are going to go out on a limb and say you are doing your best to support live music, then sit down and talk to your friend all night while your talent is playing, that is not a fine example of supporting live music.
If you are going to invite talent into your establishment draw up a simple contract with your name, a place for the talent, the day of the event and the time, the length and number of sets, and price for the job. That is the most professional way to handle hiring live entertainment and everything is handle via email, where the agreement is in writing.
The thing that I would consider unprofessional is making an arrangement with a performer by phone and then changing the arrangements at the time that payment is due. For the performers that run into this too often to talk about, may I suggest drafting an equally simple agreement that you can shoot to your contact following the phone conversation.
Sometimes people say they support live music, but don’t realize how offensive their behaviors can be. Talking above entertainers while they play and shorting them on a deal is everything I won’t support. So, if I find out things like that are happening, I will have to recommend that performers not offer their talents to such unappreciative audiences.
That’s just my two cents. I am no one really in the big scheme of things, but I am out here trying to help artist succeed at their dreams of making a living by playing music. I appreciate them for their efforts and I want to educate others on how to do that as well.
That is all my news. I hope you get out and enjoy the sounds of live music sometime soon. I am dedicated to making sure you know where to go to find it. If you like this blog please sign up and get an email each time we publish. I appreciate my readers, the musicians and the venues who all do a part in keeping live music alive! Thanks for keeping me informed!
Please take kindness with you today and hug strangers. Don’t forget that life is short and could end in a moment, so make sure you take time to enjoy the dance.
Send all of your event invites to me on Facebook and you will end up in the list of options in the days ahead. I can be found on Facebook by following this link:
I also read emails daily. You can send those to:
Please include the day, the date, the time of the event, the time of your scheduled performance, what time doors open and the price of tickets. Pictures are also helpful. I share links to band websites, so send those along as well. Thanks so much for taking the time to fill me in on the details, together we will reach the people!