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Sounds Local

Barefoot Truth bids farewell

Feel-good group hitting The Calvin Saturday on final tour

“Life is calling, but you need healing now,

for all good reasons, change is comin’.

Change is comin’, for all good reasons,

but you need healin’, for life is callin’”

— Barefoot Truth,
“All Good Reasons”

Change is indeed coming for Barefoot Truth, a five-piece acoustic rock band with ties to Franklin County. After seven years together the band, which had an album in the Top-10 charts on iTunes and garnered over 8 million plays on the Internet radio station Pandora, has decided to call it a day.

Barefoot Truth will play its second to the last show ever at the Calvin Theatre, 19 King St. in Northampton, on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 8 p.m. Woodward Way, a duo from Easthampton, will open.

Barefoot Truth features Will Evans on lead vocals and drums, John Waynelovich on piano, Jay Driscoll on Weissenborn slide guitar, Andy Wrba on upright bass, and Garrett Duffy on harmonica. The band labels its music as a “roots-rocky-funky-folk-groove,” a rather all encompassing, albeit accurate, description of their sound. The band’s hook-laden, infectious style of music does incorporate a variety of styles.

But it is their unique instrumentation that really sets them apart. In addition to Weissenborn’s slide and harmonica, the group is also known to incorporate congas, and even a didgeridoo into their mixed bag of sounds. Their unusual approach to music making has led to the obvious comparisons to the Dave Matthews Band, but there is a breezy feel-good quality to the group’s music that also brings to mind Jack Johnson. This is a band that wants their audience to have a good time, and they do this not only by keeping a good groove going, but by writing lyrics that are optimistic and life affirming.

As the bittersweet days to their final shows grows closer — the last show will in Boston — guitarist Driscoll and keyboardist Waynelovich were more than happy to share some of their memories.

Driscoll, a native of South Hadley, co-founded the band with Will Evans back in 2004 when he was a student at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Last year, Driscoll settled in Greenfield, drawn to the town’s burgeoning arts scene. Waynelovich resides in his hometown of Turners Falls, and in addition to his work with Barefoot Truth has appeared in 50 musical theater productions presented by the Ja’ Duke Performing Arts Center in Turners Falls, which is owned and operated by his family.

The pair view the Calvin Theatre show as a hometown show and added that it has always been one of their dreams to perform at this esteemed venue. This is coming from a band that plays over 150 show a year and has shared the stage with musicians like Ray LaMontagne and Michael Franti. Looking back at some of their shows, Driscoll recalls the worst ever was their much-anticipated first gig in Boston.

“There was a huge storm that night and during our third song, lightning struck nearby and set the fire alarm off,” Driscoll recalled. “Everybody was evacuated into the street in the pouring rain and lightning!”

Fortunately, the good shows far outweighed the bad and one of their favorite shows occurred this past year when they performed at President Barack Obama’s pre-debate rally in New York.

“We played for an incredible crowd and shared the stage with legends such as Stills and Nash and Bruce Hornsby. It was quite an honor to meet them all and have an opportunity to play in such a powerful event,” said Waynelovich.

Both Waynelovich and Driscoll agree that they will miss powerful musical moments like this one, but will most miss the close brotherhood they have formed in this band. The one thing that they will not miss is the constant touring, and it is a desire to spend more time at home and to also try new things that led to the decision to call it quits.

“We came to the unanimous decision as a group, and are fortunate to all be on the exact same page,” said Driscoll. “Though the shows are coming to an end, the music and the friendships will always be there.”

Driscoll plans to pursue his master’s degree in education and will also begin work on an album to be called “Jay Driscoll and Friends.” Waynelovich will work as the high school music director at Easthampton High School. He is undecided about his musical future, but knows he will continue to perform.

As they look toward the future, they take pride in all they have accomplished with Barefoot Truth and agree that their proudest moment was when the band’s latest disc, “Carry Us On,” reached No. 10 on the iTunes chart.

“I remember a friend calling me and saying ‘you’ve hit No. 10 and the Beatles are No. 11!’ As an independent artist, that just isn’t something you ever expect to actually happen,” Driscoll recalled.

“When you have a moment that you do reach a benchmark of selling music with some of the giants in the industry, you have to take a step back and think you are doing something right and be proud that we believed in ourselves,” Waynelovich said. “More importantly, the fans believe in our music and in the end that really is what matters.”

The band’s legion of devoted fans will be out in full force for Barefoot’s Truth final Northampton appearance. The band anticipates that it will be one of the most memorable shows of their career.

“If you have seen Barefoot Truth before, you haven’t seen it like this,” Waynelovich said. “If you haven’t seen Barefoot Truth before, this would be the show to come to. I’m expecting pure insanity. Anything less would be disappointing and I know from a performer’s standpoint, I’ll be ready to create and be a part of that atmosphere. I just hope the audience is ready!”

www.barefoottruth.com

Tickets are $20 and available from the Northampton Box Office, 76 Main St., in Northampton, online at www.iheg.com or charge by phone at 413-586-8686.

Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at soundslocal@yahoo.com

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