Tim Barry

Plenty of former punk and hardcore icons have traded in their volume, crunch, and at least some of their onstage aggression in recent years for new directions as folk-leaning singer-songwriters. Look at 7 Seconds' Kevin Seconds, Hot Water Music's Chuck Ragan, Gorilla Biscuits' Walter Schreifels, etc. But if you poke around some of the leading punk-rock message boards, many of those cats have been ripped for going soft, becoming "dad rockers," and/or hopping onto the cliché trend of swapping Johnny Rotten for Johnny Cash. And yet Tim Barry — the 39-year-old Richmond, Virginia, singer-guitarist best known for fronting now-defunct hardcore heroes Avail for two decades — has managed to slip into acoustic troubadour mode more seamlessly and memorably than most of his peers, and with near-universal respect. Part of that's because the candid, no-bullshit Barry has oozed sincerity and authenticity throughout his entire career; he's never been one to embrace a sound or style because it was fashionable. A bigger part of it is that he's had things to say on his handful of solo albums, like the just-released 28th and Stonewall — about his days and nights riding the rails, the harrowing deaths of close friends, the highs and lows of Richmond history (including a failed slave uprising in 1800), and more — and a commanding voice and presence with which to say them. In concert, Barry continues to prove that he doesn't need cranked amps anymore to craft something emotionally powerful and cathartic.


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