This page is dedicated to the memory of
a great American songwriter, storyteller, and a great person.
Photo taken February, 2003 at the album
release party (courtesy of Beb)
Been Down That Muddy Road
Top 20 album of 2003-
Offbeat Magazine, New Orleans
Top 30 regional album of 2003-
The New Orleans Times Picayune
Top 20 album
of 2003- Seattle based magazine
"...this album is virtually flawless... ...Barry can at last relax knowing that the great music he's been
holding on to for so long is now out there for all the world to hear." B. J. Weikert,
Rockzillaworld (September, 2003)
"This album is more than just a coda to the career of a legendary, if obscure rocker. It is a striking
final statement." William Ruhlmann, www.AllMusic.com
"...a triumph of willpower and unconquerable human
spirit... ...a stunning musical portrait..."
Offbeat Magazine, New Orleans (June, 2003)
"Hands down, the regional album of
the year... ...a masterpiece" Where Ya't magazine, New Orleans (May, 2003)
A recording project began in the fall of 2000 of
fourteen new and previously unreleased songs written by South Louisiana Legend
Joe Barry. The album was finally completed at the beginning of 2003.
Titled Been Down That Muddy Road, the project was a labor of
love for both Joe and his local producers, Pershing Wells and Michael Vice, as
well as executive producer Aaron Fuchs of Night Train International Records
based in New York City. The tracks were recorded without the luxury of
going into a typical recording studio. Three digital audio workstations
were used in the tracking process. The legendary R & B band, the Blue
Eyed Soul Revue, (who has backed up Percy Sledge, Ernie K-Doe, Jean Knight and
countless other New Orleans R & B stars), was chosen to play on all the tracks.
Rhythm and horn sections were cut "wherever it was convenient and
accommodating." Joe's vocals were recorded in bits and pieces at
his home in Cut Off. The recording, editing, and mixing process was done
by Pershing Wells using computer software.
Producer Pershing Wells explained the process of getting the album done:
"Michael Vice and I would go to Joe's home in Cut Off with an eight-track
recorder. We would hang a mic up somewhere in front of Joe to get the
track. Joe would sing one of his songs accompanying himself on the
guitar. Most of the time it was "pieced" together as Joe couldn't sing
the entire song in one take. There were a lot of stops and re-starts.
I would then take the song back to my studio and "sketch" it
(using a sequencer) to create the order of the song (Intro, verse, chorus,
bridge, etc). I always listened intently to what Joe was doing to make
certain I was taking the song in his direction. I then brought it to the band
to cut the rhythm track. (By this time it was
evolved enough for everyone to know what direction Joe wanted to go).
Most of the time we would go back to Cut
Off and get Joe's approval of the track (which he always dug) and then go back
and cut the horn parts. After all the tracks were complete, we would go
back to Joe's home and get the final vocal. I then worked on the
final mix. The process took a very long time. Regardless, hanging out with Joe was an awesome experience. He always
had a great story to tell. ...and he did a beautiful job of putting
those stories to song."
Despite the "piecing together" of the project, the album is
extremely well done (see press reviews on this web site) and has earned Joe a
whole new audience apart from his already strong following in the Swamp Pop
world. The superb songwriting ranks Joe among the best writers of
American music. This is a must have recording.
The album is available at
Louisiana Music Factory or through Night Train International mail order at
Visit the official
Night Train International web site relating to Joe Barry:
Here is the
official press release:
Tuff City Music
April 18, 2003
NIGHT TRAIN TO RELEASE
BEEN DOWN THAT MUDDY ROAD,
FIRST NEW ALBUM BY SWAMP ROCKER JOE
BARRY IN 30 YEARS
Swamp rock legend Joe Barry will release his new album, Been Down That
Muddy Road (NTI CD 7140), on Night Train Records on April 22, 2003.
Barry first rose to prominence with his early 1960s hit, “I’m a Fool to Care.”
This new album represents a return to the music scene for Barry, who has been
struggling with various illnesses. Barry, who was a long-time friend of Elvis
Presley’s, wrote all but one song, an amazing swamp pop version of the
Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” Incredibly, this project almost did not
According to liner notes by Tuff City President Aaron Fuchs, “The Joe Barry we
met was nearly incapacitated, suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis, Chronic
Asthma, Bronchitis, Emphysema, Cariomyopic disease, diabetes, and an infected
immune system. But to our amazement, his personality was as life affirming and
uplifting as his body was deteriorated. He had stories to tell and a
spellbinding raconteurship that no journalist could find resistible. He
emerged to us as a no less than Lightning Hopkins-esque in the richness and
dramatic arc of his life. Incredibly, Barry could even strum the sketches of a
few new songs.”
The album itself is a remarkable achievement, both because it documents a
musical legend confronting the end of his life and because it shows a talented
songwriter putting his years of experience into song. With the help of
Pershing Wells and Mike Vice, of the band
the Blue-Eyed Soul Revue, Barry began to record his demos on a portable
multi-track board. The band recorded backing tracks and Barry, only able to
sing for a few seconds at a time, had to patch his vocals over the tracks.
This painstaking process went on over the course of two and a half years.
The end result represents a series of bluesy gems. Where Y’at magazine
commented, “Hands down, the regional album of the year… a miracle and a
masterpiece.” Fans of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash will not be able to resist the
weathered voice and swampy back-up tracks. The album is enjoying significant
airplay on radio stations such as New Orleans’ WWOZ. Joe Barry’s Been Down
That Muddy Road is available from the Louisiana Music Factory or through
Night Train International mail order at
Born Joseph Barrios, 13 July 1939, Cut Off, Louisiana, USA.
Barry was one of the best-known disseminators of a specialized style of early
rock 'n' roll peculiar to Louisiana that later came to be called "swamp pop".
Like many swamp pop artists, Barry was a Cajun (the local term for
French-American). In his youth he performed in Cajun music bands, and in 1956
made his first rock 'n' roll recordings. Barry's first record to garner
recognition, albeit local, was "Greatest Moment Of My Life" in 1960. His "I'm
A Fool To Care" (number 24 pop) in 1961 was a national hit and an archetypal
swamp pop record, being a slow, melancholic ballad heavily influenced by R&B.
It entered the UK chart in 1961 at number 49. Barry had one other national
hit, "Teardrops In My Heart" (number 63 pop), also from 1961. Barry continued
to enjoy local success for several more years, but in 1967 ended his full-time
career in the music business, thereafter making only occasional forays into
the recording scene. The most ambitious enterprise took place in 1976, when he
recorded in Houston under producer Huey P. Meaux an entire album of
country ballads, Joe Barry, that did not reflect his swamp pop roots.
The country audience liked it, however. In 1980 Barry independently recorded
an album of religious songs, Sweet Rose Of Sharon.
Below are photos from the sessions:
Below Clockwise: 1) Joe Barry, Michael Vice, Mike Hurtt.
Michael Vice and Joe Barry. 3) Joe Barry. 3)
Mike Hurtt, Joe Barry, Pershing Wells, Aaron Fuchs, and Michael Vice.