Irish Guitarist Barry McCabe Talks About Beyond the Tears and the Gift of Music

by Frasier MacKenzie

A year or so ago, some of our staff here discovered an Irish blues guitarist named Barry McCabe on the CD Baby site. CD Baby, as some of you may know, specializes in marketing the music of independent artists; you don’t go there to buy the latest blockbuster single you heard all over the radio – you go there to find quality music by musicians who haven’t been co-opted by the corporate conglomerates. Barry McCabe caught our attention at first because we thought he sounded remarkably like another Irish guitarist, the “Last of the Independents,” the late Rory Gallagher (although after listening to “Alberta” off Barry’s Absolutely Live disc, Erin commented that she thought Barry was the more versatile vocalist of the two). Delving into his more recent CD The Peace Within, I noticed a broadening and deepening of musical perspective as Barry worked with piper Davy Spillane to create a compelling blend of Celtic blues.

Recently Barry McCabe has been hard at work on the new CD Beyond the Tears, as well as taking time out to play at clubs and blues festivals here and there. The CD is due out September 9; however, it’s now available for pre-ordering online, and Barry has four tracks available for free download in the music section of his site (all the other tracks have samples available for listening as well). In addition to this, he’s taking a unique approach to the new CD’s release: recognizing that his listeners quickly become ardent fans who want to share their new discovery with their friends, he’s giving away an extra CD free to everyone who pre-orders the new CD, so you have one for yourself and one to pass along to someone else who’d enjoy the music. (You can do this when you’re not beholden to a bunch of corporate fat-cats, you see.)

From what we’ve sampled so far of the new disc, it sounds like it’s every bit up to his usual high standards. Things start off with a Chuck Berry-style rocker reminiscent of Dave Edmunds, progress through a very smooth cover of Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love,” cruise the moody waters of a Peter Green-ish “Trouble” and finish up with the folky acoustic simplicity of “Sunset Waltz.”

In his latest newsletter, Barry writes about how the new CD came about:

“OK, a little bit of background on the CD itself and the recording process.

“The songs on the CD are all ‘roughly’ connected in that they relate to this character called Johnny. As I say on the CD sleeve – who’s Johnny? Johnny is the personification of many people we see – or don’t – around us every day. Johnny is the misunderstood, the lonely, the outcast, the unfortunate, the part of society and ourselves we’d rather not know about.

“The idea to do an entire album based on one character hit me one evening as I was sitting in the car waiting for someone. The idea took shape in my mind pretty quickly and as I sketched it out on a piece of paper even some of the song titles were already there. I had been ‘waiting’ for an idea to hang the album on for a while so now that I had it I could get to work.

“I called up the guys in the band, told them to dust off the equipment and that the new CD was now a ‘work in progress’. It’s not always fair on them as they often have to wait on me and as I work very much on ‘feel’ I often have to wait for things myself!!

“We started working on ‘Lonely Road’ first and it fell into place quite fast. It was exciting to work on it but it was also a bit strange as this time I was going to attempt to write a complete album without ‘testing’ the songs on the road first. This time I had the feeling that I should leave everything until the last minute and basically work off what we’d hear back in the studio when we laid down the backing tracks. It was a terrifying idea at times but again I just ‘felt’ this was the right thing to do.

“I had a rough draft of ‘I Wonder’ ready and we ran through it just once as we were finishing up one evening. Then working in that strange fashion I have I basically did NOTHING for about another year. I was still working things out in my head but I didn’t get together with the guys anymore. I decided to buy myself a small 4-track recorder and proceeded to lay down a basic guitar track and a basic vocal. Then I overdubbed either a harmony vocal or one or two guitar parts.

“I had the idea all along to bring some friends in on the recording session and I was absolutely thrilled when they ALL said ‘yes’. I’ve known Johnny (Fean) for many, many years (from his days in Horslips) and he’s one of the most soulful guitarists you could ever ask to meet. He’s also a BIG Peter Green fan.

“Pat (McManus) is actually a cousin of mine and obviously I’ve known him for quite awhile too. Pat was with us in the studio from the very start and played a huge part in the album turning out the way it did. I’ve known Mark (Feltham) since his Rory days but got to know him much better over the last while as we kept bumping into each other at festivals across Europe. I’ll write more about these guys later (and their contributions) but it’s sufficient to say that they are among the top players of the world.

“When I did finally get back to working on the new songs I ended up turning out a song a day sometimes. It became a very prolific period for me and I felt inspired. I was laying it all down on my 4-track and as soon as I had what I wanted for the album I sent the rough mixes off to the guys. We met up the Saturday before going into the studio and we raced through the material. We worked up a very rough version of each song and that’s as far as I wanted to go with it. We all arrived at the studio the following Monday and proceeded to get stuck in. We worked really fast but at a very leisurely pace. There was no pressure on anyone and when we had what we thought was a good take we’d move on. We recorded in a very ‘live’ situation, meaning we all played in the same room without using headphones – just working off each other live. The up side of working like this is EVERYONE is REALLY in tune with each other. You get that special feel of it, when everyone is in the same place at the same time. The down side of it is that everyone’s got to get it right as there is no possibility to overdub because of the ‘leakage’ from the mic’s (in other words you’d hear the bass on some of the drum mics’s, etc.). Intense but in the end worth it, I think.

“I’ll write more about the experience later but hopefully now you’ll feel some of the same experiences we felt going through getting the music this far.”

Regarding the promo in effect for pre-ordering the new CD, Barry writes, “Maybe it’s the heat or my generous nature, I don’t know, but we’re going to try the following and hope that it works. As a ‘thank you’ for your support, and for pre-ordering the new CD, all copies bought during the pre-order period will be autographed – AND – we’re going to give you all an extra CD for FREE with every CD that you buy. I know a lot of you have bought extra copies of my previous CDs for your friends (or maybe it was your enemies!) or had some of your friends bug you to make them a copy, so we thought we’d make it as easy as possible for you this time by actually doing some of the hard work for you already. This way they get their own copy (12 page full colour booklet and all).

“Music is a gift and it should be shared as much as possible. We’re starting the ball rolling by giving you a ‘gift’ with your purchase. We hope that whoever receives the ‘gift’ from you will in turn tell someone else about it and that way we can keep the ‘chain of giving’ moving forward. With the purchase of this CD someone somewhere will always be getting a ‘gift’ of music for free!

“I really hope we can make this work. Obviously we’re cutting our profit margin to the bone to try and achieve this so we’d be very grateful if you can alert your friends to this action. Only by doing that can we keep it moving forward and keep giving someone something for free.”

So here are your links for Beyond the Tears:

Download 4 Tracks Free (and preview all tracks)

Pre-order from CD Baby (and get an extra one free – both are signed copies)

Best wishes to Barry on the upcoming release, and thanks for sharing your music and insights with us.

 © Copyright 2006 by Frasier MacKenzie. Republished 2015.

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21-Bedroom Apartments & Wolf-Snacks

by Erin Abernethy

Fine, Then, I’ll Just GO to the Drugstore.

 Conversation between customer and clerk at the cologne counter of the men’s department in one of your nicer (read: overpriced) mall stores…

Clerk, bringing out a sample of CK1: How about this? It’s a very popular scent.
Customer: I’m looking for something… um… a little more suitable for an older guy.
Clerk: Ah, doing some early Father’s Day shopping?
Customer: Not exactly. Just–ah–an older guy. There’s a scent he likes but I can’t think of the name…
Clerk, pulling out a sample of Old Spice: How about this?
Customer: He’s not that old.
Clerk, selecting another sample: Maybe something like this? It’s one of our best sellers–it has a nice hint of citrus. Very mysterious, don’t you think?
Customer: Hmm… that’s interesting, but that’s not quite it. Do you have something with–I don’t know, an undertone of menthol?
Clerk: Menthol?
Customer: Yeah–something that smells a little more like Icy Hot?
Clerk: Hmm. Perhaps you might try the drugstore across the street.

Plus Tax, of Course.

4″ metal plate from hardware store… 69 cents

Tube of caulking… $2.97

Covering the abandoned dryer vent in the wall of your boyfriend’s apartment, keeping out the invading squirrels AND getting to show up boyfriend’s landlord for the incompetent, dim-witted, short-sighted, lazy-ass boob that he is… Priceless. Absolutely priceless.


Is It Hungry Enough for a 50-lb. Snack?

Overheard at park’s “nature education” center:

Boy (looks to be about age 4): That’s a wolf. They’re mean!
Girl (probably older sister, about age 12): They are not.
Boy: They eat people!
Girl: They do not. Don’t be stupid.
Boy: I saw one attack somebody on TV!
Girl: They only attack people who are bothering them by being loud and annoying.
Girl (approaching ranger): Excuse me–are we allowed to feed the wolf?

Your Child Isn’t Going to Be the Next Cal Ripken.









If They Can’t Get the Bugs Out, Do They Huff & Puff & Burn Your House Down?










Oh… So I Guess the Senior Citizen Commune Is Out, Then.

Overheard on local radio station:

“This hour’s news is sponsored by Stover Retirement Villas in the heart of downtown. Stover is pleased to announce the grand opening next month of their new senior-living complex Meadowview Villas, situated conveniently near the medical center. Meadowview has twenty-one-bedroom apartments available… um… wait… that should be twentyone-bedroom apartments….”

Fuel Conservation Rant

It started off with just a mild irritation a couple of weeks ago. The old man and I were carpooling one morning (as we often do) and we got behind a school bus. The stop-and-go bit while it picked up children along the way was a minor annoyance, but hey, I’m all in favor of making sure they get an education. What irked me was seeing that their parents had chauffeured the little darlings to the curb to wait for the bus in their big-ass, gas-guzzling SUVs.

“What the hell is this?” I griped. “I understand wanting to make sure your kid gets on the bus safely–or doesn’t sneak off to go somewhere else–but whatever happened to walking your kid to the bus stop?”

“Beats me,” said the old man. “When I was a kid, the school bus didn’t stop at the end of every driveway. It stopped at four places during the course of the mile-and-a-half to our school, and kids just gathered at the nearest stop. And no one’s mother ever walked them to the bus stop.”

“Yes, and I’ve heard about the fistfights that used to happen while you guys were standing around waiting for the bus,” I said, “so I’m not saying that stopping at the end of every driveway is a bad idea. And I’m not saying that waiting with your kid until the bus gets there is a bad idea. But good grief, look at this! These houses are–what, thirty yards away from the curb, at most?”

“Twenty or thirty, yeah, that’s about right,” he agreed.

“So why do they need to drive their kid to the end of the driveway and sit there with the engine idling until the bus comes?”

“Maybe they’re going somewhere else after the kids get on the bus,” he suggested.

“You haven’t been paying attention,” I said. “Not one of them have gone anywhere except back down the driveway to the house when the kid got on the bus. What a waste of gas! Not to mention the little monsters are probably getting the idea from this that they should never, ever have to walk anywhere in their lives. Look at that one!” I pointed. “They’ve got a Honda Civic sitting right in front of the house, for crying out loud! Why fire up the 4-Runner just to drive one little kid down a twenty-foot driveway to catch the bus?!”

The old man (who, I admit, gets an earful of this sort of thing way more often than he ought to have to listen to it) promised me a blueberry Danish if I’d let it go, so I managed to turn my attention elsewhere for the rest of the twenty-minute drive. Like I said, it was a mild irritation, one of those things you see that you know isn’t right and doesn’t make a bit of sense, but there’s really nothing you can personally do about it. After all, I did promise the old man several months ago that I wouldn’t roll down the window and yell at people anymore when they were being idiots.

I didn’t make any promises about not ranting and raving in my blog, though.

So when I heard a news clip earlier this week about Bush asking everyone to conserve gas and energy as much as possible, I thought of all those mommies and daddies sitting there with the engines running in their big-ass SUVs while they wait for their precious darlings’ school bus to arrive.

When I heard him mention not driving unless it was absolutely necessary, I thought of all those people clogging up traffic last month while they waited to get into the local Speedway and watch all those cars drive around and around and around, going absolutely nowhere for absolutely no reason other than to entertain a bunch of people who were just there to see if someone wrecked and went up in flames.

And then I heard the announcement that Bush would be going on a trip to visit the hurricane-damaged areas–presumably to see the damage firsthand and to show his support for the people, but we all know a photo opportunity when we see one, don’t we? Especially after the tales from Hurricane Katrina.

To be perfectly frank, it made me think of what happens when the old man’s district manager comes to visit his workplace: everyone’s so annoyed at having some clueless head honcho look over their shoulder and ask stupid questions and tell them “better” ways of doing things that no real work gets done until he leaves and gets out of their hair.

So Mr. Bush… if you’re really serious about conserving fuel and not making wasted trips, let me make a suggestion: park yourself at home and stay out of the way of the recovery teams who are doing the real work. I can’t even imagine how much it costs us in tax dollars to fuel Air Force One for a trip like that, but I’m sure it’s more than the price of the gas used by a few dozen parents chauffeuring their kids to the end of the driveway every day of the school year.

© Copyright 2005 by Erin Abernethy.

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Inconvenient Shopping: It’s All About Cows & Boob-Scoopin’ Boogie Bars

by Erin Abernethy

That Good Ol’ Inconvenient One-Stop Shopping

 Billboard I spotted just off I-81 in Tennessee:

Sub Shop
Located with inconvenience store

You Want a Band-Aid for That?

 I was hanging out in a local shop yesterday when one of the sales associates came out from the back of the store, obviously flustered and a bit red-faced, straightening his tie and so on as though he’d just arrived. The associate behind the counter glanced at her watch and greeted him (a bit sarcastically), “Oh, nice of you to join us today. And how are you?”

To which he replied, “I was doing all right until I got here half a minute late and the manager chewed me a new asshole.”

She: “That’s nice. Maybe you won’t be so full of shit today.”

3 Things that Pissed Me Off Before 9:30 a.m. Today

#1. Big-ass SUVs that are so long they completely foul up the line winding around the corner at the drive-through bank window.

#2. Another big-ass SUV driven by one little man in a business suit with no passengers. (Oh, are you hauling your portable boardroom in there? Gee, I didn’t realize….) Did I forget to mention that Mr. Big-ass SUV was managing to block 4 pumps at the corner gas station while he filled up his bottomless gas tank?

#3. Still another big-ass SUV driven by one lady in medical garb (please don’t tell me you’ve got a mobile exam table in the back)… which then pulls in directly beside me in the post-office parking lot (mind you, these spaces are measured out for compact cars and small postal vehicles, not big-ass SUVs)… which is so close I can’t open my door. Oh, sure, I could wait while medi-woman sits there in her big-ass SUV and reads every piece of mail from her box, but I’m already running behind thanks to the big-ass SUV drive-through window mess at the bank. I’d move down a space, but I can’t see past the end of the big-ass SUV wedged against my door. So I’m thinking, “OK, I’ll climb over the gear shift and go out the passenger door,” when–you guessed it–another big-ass SUV blocks me in on the other side.

Well, I see I’ve only used the phrase “big-ass SUV” 9 times. Let’s make it an even number.

Damn these big-ass SUVs and their idiotic, inconsiderate, air-headed, space-wasting, gas-guzzling, trendy-ass, hypocritical, rationalizing, mail-reading drivers!

I feel much better now, thanks.

Freudian Slip or Dialect Differences?

Today’s chuckle comes from an interview on a local radio station with a preacher whose name I unfortunately did not catch. The topic was whether gay people should be allowed to be ministers/priests, etc., and while Rev. Whoever’s remarks were not particularly enlightened or interesting, it was quite entertaining the way he kept going on about “homo-sexy-alley-tee.”

Natural Selection & Dopey Burger Boys

If some guys would really starve without Hardee’s, I say let’s close ’em all down and let nature take its course. Do we really need to save a spot in the gene-pool for guys who don’t have sense enough to buy groceries or make a bowl of cereal?

Welcome to the Church of Dyslexia.

Marquee sign in front of a church on my way home:


Just a Little Piss & Quiet, Please

Overheard in ladies’ room at our local bookstore:

Over-concerned mother: “Are you OK in there, honey?”
Toddler: “Uh-huh.”


Mom: “Are you sure?”
Toddler: “Yeeesssss.”

(Longer pause)

Mom: “Do you want me to come in and help?”
Toddler: “I pee better if you go stand outside.”

So… It’s All About Cows, Then?

Snipped from our local newspaper’s TV listings:

Sunday night, NBC: Bridget Jone’s Dairy

Those Boot-Scootin’ Boob-Scoopin’ Boogie Bars

Overheard in line at the movie theater from two older ladies ahead of me.

“I’ve got to find a drugstore when we get out of here. Didn’t there used to be a drugstore down on the corner here?”

“Yes, but it’s not there anymore. They closed, and then some hillbilly half-wit bought the place and turned it into one of those country-western boob-scooping bars.”

Fast Track to Management

Overheard at boyfriend’s workplace:

“How many generations of inbreeding do you think it took to produce someone like him?”

“What do you mean?”

“He has all the intelligence and personality of a toad.”

“Well, he’s… uh… very… enthusiastic.”

“That’s why they’re sending him for management training.”

Nazis, Nazis Everywhere

Hmm… while all the fat-cat major networks are televising the “State of the Union” address tonight, PBS is running “Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State.”

Interesting choice.

Better Watch Those TFS Levels

Overheard my boyfriend on the phone this morning, presumably to his workplace…

“Yeah, well, I had that check-up at the doctor’s yesterday, you know, and my TFS levels are way, way down. So I’ll probably won’t be in for at least a couple of days.”

After he hung up, I said, “TFS levels? What’s that?”

“Tolerance For Stupidity,” he grinned.

Nope, he definitely shouldn’t be around his co-workers if that’s the case.

My Dad Said Not to Spend My Whole Tax Refund in One Place, But I Need to Put Gas in My Car.

If gas prices get much higher, I’m seriously considering parking my car and taking up smoking instead.

© Copyright 2005 by Erin Abernethy.

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Public Therapy & Educational Eavesdropping

by Erin Abernethy

Everybody Knows God Hates Cheatin’ Men

The other day I was in the post office & overheard one side of a public pay-phone conversation. This fuzzy-haired bleached-blond woman (who was overflowing her dingy tank top and stars-n-stripes stretch pants) was talking about her husband who’d just left her for some other cheap bit of trash. And she was not at all self-conscious about airing her indignation on a pay phone. People who practice forms of public therapy have always sort of fascinated me, in a morbid way. I have to listen in, since they obviously don’t care who’s paying attention, and since it’s not like they’re making any real effort to exercise any sort of discretion.

Well, this woman on the phone–after rattling off the list of her ex’s numerous transgressions & faults–proceeded to announce in a very menacing tone, “But that’s OK, God’ll get him! He can’t hide!” Apparently her idea of “God” must have been something like an avenging Mafia angel, an Old-Testament-meets-the-Godfather sort of being. I thought it was sort of funny that she was so sure that out of all the things wrong with the world, her God was going to take time out of attending to the grand mess of chaos to personally hurl down a lightning bolt (or a transfer truck on the wrong side of the road) just to FIX HER EX.

Another thing I find peculiar is how people use the idea of karma to serve their own morals. I’m always hearing people confronting someone who’s doing something they don’t agree with & then warning, “Well, karma will catch up with you!” What gets me is that these are (very often) people who consider themselves enlightened & open-minded… which, I guess, is why they feel it’s OK to pronounce judgments on other people as long as it’s done with an Eastern slant (which they probably read in some new age paperback) instead of the old “You’re going to hell for that!” tactic. To me, though, it sounds a lot like a different verse of the same song.

She Might Be “Telepathetic,” But…

Scene: customer service desk of a local discount store. Two women in store aprons are sorting returns into baskets and talking animatedly about someone.

“Well, I just don’t understand what he was thinkin’, tryin’ to do somethin’ like that,” said one.

“I don’t know. It makes you wonder about him, don’t it?”

“Well, I know he ain’t got a whole lotta sense, but…” (Pause while hauling an armful of baby clothes onto the counter to be replaced on hangers.) “I just don’t know what people are thinkin’ sometimes. Which is weird, I guess, because I’m s’posed to be a little bit psychit, you know.”

“Oh, really?”

“Oh, yeah! People tell me that all the time, that I musta been readin’ their mind. But still, even bein’ psychit and all that, I just don’t know what people are thinkin’ sometimes.”

“Maybe they ain’t thinkin’.”

“I guess that would explain it, wouldn’t it?”

Eavesdropping in Bookstores is so… Educational.

I was in a local bookstore the other day—I won’t say which bookstore it was because this is a large bookstore we normally associate with polite, well-read people who have at least the minimum requirement of intelligence.

Anyway, I was standing there browsing the bookshelves, minding my own business. As I always do. Well, nearly always. OK, I admit it, if someone starts up a conversation within ten feet of me and it sounds remotely interesting, I listen. Not overtly, of course, but sometimes you can’t help it. They’re making such spectacular fools of themselves that you can’t pass up the opportunity to see for yourself just how far down the ladder of evolution some humans can slide at one go. And I figure that if you’re in a public place and you’re talking loud enough for people in the next parking lot to hear you, you probably wanted the attention anyway.

This turned out to be one of those times.

It went something like this.

He: “Oh, look, this book has really nice photos of Memphis… look, honey.”
She: (Disinterested grunt.)
He: “There’s the Peabody Hotel…”
She: (distastefully)“Why are there ducks on the carpet?”

(At this point, I was thinking, you know, I haven’t been around a lot, and I’ve never been to Memphis, but even I know about the Peabody Hotel ducks. Sheesh.)

He: “Well, they’re the Peabody Hotel ducks, honey. They live there, you see.”
She: “Do you always have to make stuff up?”
He: “I’m not making it up, they live there at the hotel!”
She: “I mean, if you don’t know the answer when I ask you something, I wish you’d just say you don’t know instead of coming up with these cockamamey stories of yours…”

(Cockamamey? Did I spell that right? Is that even a real word? Well, it’s what she said anyway.)

He: “Oh, come on, haven’t you ever heard of the Peabody Hotel?… OK, they have these ducks, see, there they are, right there in the book, and every morning they put out a red carpet for the ducks to walk to the fountain, and every evening they walk back to their little… duck palace thingy.”
She (dubiously): “Uh huh.”
He: “I’m not making this up.” (sounds of pages turning) “See, right here, it says, ‘The Peabody Ducks are a tradition at the hotel. They are treated like royalty, with a red carpet—”
She: (annoyed) “But why would they do that?”
He: “Well… well, because it’s just neat, you know, the guests enjoy it, seeing the ducks…”
She: “I don’t understand.”

No, I thought, and you probably never will.

They Take People Away, You Know

Scene: post office, after hours. Two ladies are standing at the counter by the postage meter, licking envelopes and affixing stamps to a stack of Christmas cards. One is a white-haired lady in a dark coat; the other is a brunette in a bright red coat. The conversation as overheard by me during the couple of minutes it took me to drop off mail and check my box…

Red coat: “Well, they can’t take people away who haven’t done anything. They can’t take you away if you’re innocent.”

Dark coat: “Oh, yes they can too! They surely can—I know it for a fact!”

Red coat: “You sound like you’ve been arrested or something, Mother.”

Dark coat: “I do know it! I saw it on the television.”

Red coat (somewhat facetiously): “Mother, everything on television is not true.”

Dark coat: “I saw it on one of those news shows. Dateline or Nightline or something like that—one of those. The police took this man away in handcuffs, right off his doorstep! And he hadn’t done anything!”

Red coat: “Mother, I really don’t think you have anything to worry about.”

Dark coat: “I’m just saying. It makes you not want to help the police if they do come to your door or something.”

Red coat: “Hmm. And do the police come to your door a lot, wanting your help?”

Dark coat: “Well, I don’t know that I’d want to help them if they did! They could be fooling you so they can put you in handcuffs and take you away. They take people away, you know.”

© Copyright 2004 by Erin Abernethy.

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