Biography

Let's begin in Kent. Well that's what I did. And let's say we fast forward the first part of my life, because this mini-biography is about my music and not about my previous existence. The going to school, the grazing of knees, the highest up the wall competitions, the failing of exams, the first cigarette etc. We'll skip all that and begin at the time of Dylan and Donovan and the acoustic wave that changed my taste in music forever. I wanted to be part of this new scene, so I bought, or rather my parents, bought me my first steel stringed guitar. This was a Swedish made Hagstrom, which I played happily until the 70's when I acquired a Guild D40, which came all the way from New Jersey. This was a definite step up for me and, what's more, I got it for a mere £50. More recently, I achieved my ambition to own a Martin. Now, Martin's were the guitars to have when I first started out and I still find it hard to believe I now have one of my own. My model is a D18 VM, made in Nazareth, Pennsylvania 1998. "I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin' 'bout half past dead"... sorry I got carried away!

Ross Barlow
Ross Barlow
Ross Barlow Playing

And so, what have I done with these ex pieces of American forestry? My "Garden of England" years were spent playing mainly in clubs and at festivals throughout the county, although I did once or twice step over the border into Essex, in fact I twice appeared, live, on BBC Radio Essex. I played at one of the first open air festivals. This was in Chelsfield, Kent, where the stage was under polythene sheeting in case of rain. It didn't rain and was a scorchingly hot day, under the polythene it was like strumming in a sauna. I also have made appearances at the legendary "Bunjies" coffee house in London, where Bob Dylan and Paul Simon once played. Incidentally, an (uncredited) version of my song "Hellraisers & Trailblazers" came out on a bootleg CD, called "Bunjies Funnies". Not only did I not get a credit, but they got the title wrong as well. However, it is a good version, so I forgive them, although it is listed as "If Fortune Should Favour the Fool". My good friend Rick Christian later did it justice on his 2014 album "It's About Time".

Ross Barlow Playing

All of this time I had been writing my own material in the styles that I love. Folk, Country, Jazz, Ragtime and Blues, gradually tipping the balance of my repertoire towards the self-penned, until I became totally "self-sufficient", so to speak. I find that a broader range of music is accepted today, which is healthy. There was a time when only folk songs could be played in some clubs, although Blues and Ragtime were tolerated. Woe betide a country song or anything resembling jazz, and as for Pop! My album has varying styles, "The Gathering of Crows" lyrically owes a lot to traditional folk, as does "Bobtail Morning", whereas "Tijuana'38" and "Mountain to Climb" are definitely heavily jazz influenced. "Chugging into Glory" is country, "Daydreamin'"is an out and out twelve bar blues and "Ron & Stella" has both ragtime and jazz intermingled. So to hell with categories! Feel free to check out my Discography page for samples of my songs.

Caution Slow Horses Sign
Caution Slow Horses Sign

And so to Somerset... My wife and I came to live in Babington (near Frome) over twenty years ago and I soon got into the local scene, playing clubs, singarounds and festivals around Bath. But it was after our subsequent relocation to a small village near Yeovil in 2017, that I started experiencing the most prolific period of my song writing life. Seven tracks on my "Slow Horses" album come from my "renaissance" and more songs have poured forth since its release. So much so that a second album is envisaged for 2021.

Keep watching this space.

Ross