Nicholas Barron is a wonderfully talented artist we are lucky to have him as the band leader of 312 Chicago. His depth of music knowledge and experience makes him a very unique musician. The personal flavor he adds to 312 Chicago distinguishes them a top Chicago wedding band.
Outside of Stitely Entertainment, Nicholas is constantly beginning new musical endeavors so we caught up with him to see what he’s working on and how he gets inspired.
Where did your passion and drive for music come from?
My drive is all about expression, free, passionate and flowing without fear if possible. I never phone it in so to speak.
I want to make an impact whether it’s a concert of my original music solo or with one of my bands or a wedding playing covers of classic songs. I want it to sound fresh and original.
I live most comfortably in the moment. Spontaneity and creativity are my gifts and that’s how my music comes across. I don’t put walls up and play music as obligation. For me it’s a chance to connect, move people, change and enhance, and leave an impression. Life is short. This is the chance we have. Technique is just a means to an end and in that way.
This is why I admire artists like Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan, and Eminem. Their music is powerful, immediate and poetic in an authentic way.
Who are your major musical influences?
I have major influences in a few categories: Vocals, Guitar, and songwriting/composition.
My singing comes from my love of Black music and people. Influencers from Blues Soul/R&B and Gospel include BB King, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Otis Redding, Al Green, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Sam Cooke, Bill Withers and others.
My guitar heroes are Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Pat Metheny, Grant Green, Mike Stern, John Scofield, Charlie Hunter, Marc Ribot, Michael Hedges, John Martyn, Bill Frisell, BB King, and Andy Mckee.
My biggest songwriting influences are The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Paul Simon, Jimi Hendrix (guitar and vocals too), Cat Stevens, Bob Marley, James Taylor (guitar too), Public Enemy, Eminem, Jackson Browne, Willie Dixon (Blues Classics), Allen Touisant (New Orleans).
My musical and improvisational heroes are: John Coltrane, Keith Jarrett (solo piano), Louis Armstrong, Dr John, Randy Newman, Mose Allison, Miles Davis, etc.
What are some of your latest projects that you’re working on?
I have a few things always going on as I have a ton of creative energy, which I am always grateful for!
I have a Tuba based (literally) trio called THE STRAPPING OWLS, with me on electric guitar and vocals. We are an all original “Live Wire Soul” band with a New Orleans and Chicago Blues ’n Funk ’n roll vibe. We are recording something this year (2018) that might be a combo of CD and DVD.
I also am a part of a dynamic duo with Cellist Ben Davis who is English. We play my more Folky/singer songwriter and acoustic songs and are also going to record a CD and a bunch of videos for DVD.
Outside of music, I am also a visual artist and painter! I am always working on paintings that are 2×3, 3×4, 4×5 and larger and either on canvas or wood. I am talking to various galleries about representation and shows etc. I often have pop-up galleries at my house and sell my work that way. I am the King of DIY! I believe strongly in creating my own existence with my art outside the normal and exhausting channels. I also have thousands of drawings and am working on organizing them and making them into prints and a potential book of my work.
I’m working on creating even more of an existence of playing shows/concerts of original music, mostly solo but with Ben as well. I’m adding more and more house/living room concerts all the time in Chicago, around the country and I hope, soon, the world.
Tell us about the writing process for your songs and where your inspiration comes from. Is any of it autobiographical or personal in nature?
I write songs out of a feeling of either pain and personal struggle or wanting social justice and awareness. I believe by exposing myself, opening myself up, I’m offering a mirror. We are all the same. It may look or sound different but it’s all angles and aspects. (…maybe the name of my next CD or art show!?)
My songs, which often come out of poetry and journal writing are about me exposing my journey and revealing myself and my struggle to the listener in a poetic way. Like my singing and performance, I always want to impact the listener, change the listener, and surprise them. I love/live language and the color of words often write, as i do with my visual art, themselves out of an automatic and spontaneous place – trusting where one line or word will take me, a feeling that leads to the next (just like run on sentences!).
It’s a journey that I trust and I believe in the creative reservoir wholeheartedly.
As the band leader, what distinguishes 312 Chicago as a top wedding band?
The reason many people have hired 312 Chicago is that my musical philosophy, and non-mercenary approach appeals to folks looking for an organic and genuinely soulful experience that’s not cheeseball and expected. The band has been playing together for 10 years and I’ve been playing with Frank Russell, one of the world’s great bass players, for 25 years in 2018.
These people are my best friends. It makes a HUGE difference musically.
Find more information on Nicholas by visiting his website and social media.