Feel the pain

The bittersweet smolder of Barn Burning
By CHRIS CONTI  |  October 22, 2008

TURNSTILERS: Loffredio (center) and his current mates.

Barn Burning is the acclaimed audio outlet for singer/guitarist Anthony Loffredio, a Providence native whose introspective tales are spun well beyond his 33 years and well-complemented by a revolving door of musicians since the 2004 promising debut Weatheredbound. Barn Burning, named after Loffredio’s favorite William Faulkner short story, will re-release their recent EP Bound to Leave This Dark Behind on Tuesday (the 28th) and will kick things off with a CD release show at Jake’s on Friday (the 24th) with locals Lucinda Black Bear and Willard Grant Conspiracy opening. A tour covering upstate New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Kentucky follows. The rotating lineup of Barn Burning has played more than 300 shows in 35 states over the past five years, including opening slots for fellow sad-sack troubadours Josh Ritter, Richard Buckner, and Eric Bachmann’s Crooked Fingers.

“We try to be more than a local bar band, and I feel like we’ve established an identity for ourselves outside of Providence and hope to keep going in that direction,” Loffredio said last week.

Empyrean Records recently signed the band after a brief run with 75 or Less Records, and the remodeled EP (streaming at barnburning.net) has been slightly tweaked, having replaced one song with a re-recorded version of fan favorite “American Folk Rock School.” Bound has been properly remixed and remastered this time around, which benefits Loffredio, whose nasal drawl sounds at times like a unique meshing of early Michael Stipe and Layne Staley. I asked him about the frequent personnel turnover.

“Barn Burning has been very much like a turnstile over the years,” he said. “It’s taken me a long time to accept the fact that Barn Burning is basically me and my songs. It kind of took some soul searching to get to that point because you realize that ultimately it’s just you and nobody else.” Drummer James Toomey is the longest tenured member (“He’s been there to kick my ass, prop me up, and send me back into the field,” Loffredio said) and the current lineup includes MorganEve Swain on violin, Myles Baer on bass, and Mike Samos on lapsteel.

“We’ve been doing this ‘indie-folk’ thing long before it was popular,” Loffredio said. “When we started people instantly called us an ‘alt-country’ band, but we made sure to never pigeonhole ourselves into any one identity.

“I was once told by Paul Westerberg’s manager that we don’t really fit into any specific category,” Loffredio said. “He told me it was a good thing and a bad thing.”

Willard Grant Conspiracy frontman Robert Fisher, who produced Weatheredbound and appeared on the 2007 sophomore release Werner Ghost Truck, offered his thoughts via email:  “I’ve always looked at Anthony’s music as a soundtrack to his storytelling. The songs are a great mixture of personal experience and universal observation, and they have enough weight to give you the feeling you’ve been there, even when you haven’t. Good songwriting does that. His music is very much made in the moment and is not easily captured.”

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  Topics: Music Features , Paul Westerberg, William Faulkner, Michael Stipe,  More more >
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