Barry Arvin Young

MaineList Article: Barry Arvin Young

The Name: Barry Arvin YoungI spent a couple of hours speaking with “Barry Arvin Young” today, a guitarist / vocalist from the coastal regions of Maine who has had much involvement in the Maine Music Scene over the past few decades. Barry will be turning 50 years old this year, but you’d never guess based on his physical appearance.

Barry Arvin Young is more than just the name of this remarkably experienced Maine musician / sound engineer, it also happens to be the band name that he’s continued to book gigs with for the past 18 years!

“During the time I started using my name as my band’s name, it was almost unheard of to do so. At least for local bands.” Barry’s accusations seemed alarming, but he pointed out some interesting facts that made me think that he might actually be on to something. “Back then, all the bands had traditional band names. There were big national acts that were using their own names, but nobody local!” It seems Barry’s attitude to launch his own career using his own name might have started the ball rolling for many who followed shortly afterwards.

Barry is a self-taught musician, through the help of Mel Bay’s series of instruction books. Today you can find Barry teaching at Mid-Town Music in Biddeford. “I taught at Buckdancer’s Choice about 15 years ago too.” Buckdancers was more widely known in those days, and would have been considered a valuable place for a Portland based musician to teach out of.

Barry has two CDs for sale at CDBaby amongst other resources available online. (See the link at the bottom of this article) Those CDs were entitled; “Peasant Under Glass” and “A Minor Second”.

“I never really had a big master plan, there was no big goal to reach.” Barry always centered his attention on the things that were in front of him. “It’s always been like that.” Explained Barry, who comes across to me as an overall humble, yet focused individual.

I ask a lot of guys in bands where they got their name from, but with Barry, I was mainly curious if this was his “real” name. Barry’s real birth name is Barry (first name) Arvin (middle name, taken from his father’s first name) and Young (his last name). There’s really no riddle about it, it’s just his name.

The most common name goof ups that he hears is Barry Irvin. “All I can do is smile, it happens all the time. I’ve heard em all though… Barry Avon, Barry This or That… it’s always Barry Something..” People knew him simply as Barry Young before he took on the band name, but for reasons that even Barry doesn’t understand his middle name was included on a demo tape long ago, which started the name in motion for his band, which is still used today.

Family Life

Family life seems to be relatively normal for this lifelong rocker. Barry has been married to Sue, his wife of 18 years. Together they have two children; Natasha, their 18 year old daughter, and Leo, their 15 year old son.

His kids are apparently not into music quite like their dad, but experience life as normal teenagers, which is the way Barry would prefer it anyway.

So for a simple guy, with an ordinary family, a nice evening on the town might be pizza and a good movie with those dearest to him.

Sound Engineer

Sound EngineerOne interesting aspect about Barry’s experiences with the music scene has been his dealings as a sound engineer through various venues, and for notable people throughout the years. I wondered how Barry became involved, or what drove him to want to do sound.

“Originally I fell into it, early in life I ended up with a lot of PA gear. It started as a temporary way to make money, and continued for about 10 years before I stopped doing it, which was about 10 years ago.”

Barry went on tour with “Thanks To Gravity”, a band from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, who was signed on “Capital Records” and toured nation-wide as the band’s personal sound man.

“After that I went on tour with “Sam Black Church” and was even listed on their album “The Black Comedy” with special credits for being their sound man.” Barry, obviously excited for his involvement with this highly remembered band of their own time.

Barry also worked “The State Theater” in Portland the first year they re-opened, about 15 years ago, as their in-house on-stage monitor man. He worked directly with all of the guys that they had coming through there at the time, including; “Bob Dylan”, “Southside Johnny” and “Jonathan Edwards” to name a few.

A Chain of Events

A Chain of Events“I went to college for one semester in Bangor and I knew by the end of the first semester that I didn’t want to be in college anymore.” By the end of that first semester, most of Barry’s friends had already flunked out of college.

“I eventually decided to drop out and then a friend from college called to ask me to join his band.” Steve Treat from Machias, who was in a band called “Blitz”, and wished to replace their guitarist made that call. “We started gigging in Fort Kent, and I just followed the band’s direction wherever they decided to bring me. I was young, and impressionable, needed the money, and everything just fell into place.”

Barry continued to work with Blitz until the band changed it’s name to “Mirage”. Later, he formed a new band called “The Refugees”. This was Young's first self-formed band. He eventually left “The Refugees” to join a band out of Waterville called “The Shadows”. Shadows led him to a second band that he formed himself which he called; “Secret Service”, working out of Portland. This band was managed by “Class Acts” which was a very big deal in the booking industry of New England at that time. By the end of “Secret Service” he began to dabble with live sound for local bands like “Radio Heart”, alongside Mike Callis, who was Motor Booty Affair’s original founder.

Next, Barry jumped ship to Vermont for a while, where he was a hired gun in a band called “Christine and The Dream” as a stand-in guitar player. Bouncing around, taking on various jobs here and there, he went back to more live sound engineering, working with more circuit bands out of Vermont for a while.

Barry eventually took a job for “Earcraft Sound” out of Dover, New Hampshire, becoming their sound engineer for about 5 years or so. By now, he was doing a lot of civic events, local concerts and the like. At this time he worked “The Tree Café” in Portland as their house sound guy as well.

It was also about this time in “my” life when “I” first heard of Barry Arvin Young. I remember when he played with Plato Skinsacos, Jim Boucavallis and Jimmy Cote in a band known then as “Kid Krum”. I was still a teenager and rented a band room sandwiched between “Kid Krum”, and “China White”. Barry was in his mid 20’s at that time and had already been doing the music circuit for over 10 years by the time I first heard about him. I remember looking up to the guys from “Kid Krum”, yet didn’t really know that much about those guys back then.

Barry’s adventures continued, and soon took him on tour as the sound manager with “Bebe Buell” who was really very well known during those years. This was a great experience for Barry. Up until this point in his life, everything that he had done was merely an effort to stay alive, to put food on the table and just keep the bills paid. His involvement with Bebe really helped shape the rest of the musical life that lied ahead.

FACE Magazine“FACE Magazine” wrote an article about “Barry Arvin Young” (the band) back around 1989, which mainly focused on what the band was doing at that time.

The name “Barry Arvin Young” came during his involvement with Kid Krum. “I wrote my name down on a demo cassette tape that found it’s way into some night clubs in Boston through a friend who was trying his hand at promoting”, explained Barry, “And we ended up using the name in a rush to book gigs.” He has continued to use the name to promote his own original music ever since.

Barry was doing house sound at Zootz during their biggest years in the local music scene. Every touring band that came to town to play at Zootz were getting their sound done by Barry.

From his experiences, he had the chance to work at CBGB’s a few times as “Rotors To Rust” sound man, and from there came into an opportunity to go on tour with “Thanks To Gravity”. Barry was approached by Gravity’s manager on the dance floor at a Rotors show at CBGB’s in New York City. Barry ended up on tour for a year and a half as a result of that conversation.

By the time he came home from this tour, he was contacted by “Sam Black Church” and immediately returned to the road to do a tour doing sound for them too. He did this work with “Sam Black Church” for about a year, which ended up being their last year together.

Finally, the highly demanded sound engineer came home to start a career as a regional cover band in hopes to make some money and have something to do between tours as the sound guy for other bands.

The Band

The BandBarry’s band lineup included some memorable players; “I jammed with Dave Rankin in the beginning.” Barry remembered that Dave was just beginning to form the popular Maine band known as “6Gig” at about that same time.

“I jammed with Bill Berry at that time too, he was my original bassist.” Bill was a bassist who played with other local bands too. Local popularity helped keep Barry booking gigs for many years to come.

Today, the “Barry Arvin Young Band” still rocks on. Chris Corbin (shown in the picture to the left) plays drums and might be known for his involvement with “Modus”, a band that became fairly popular with heavy hardcore music fans. Tom Hall plays bass guitar in the current band lineup, and might be remembered as the lead guitarist for a heavy metal band back in the 80’s named “D.T. Seizure”. Tom also teaches guitar at Mid-Town Music where Barry is also currently teaching.

“Tom is actually one of my very best friends, and truly an expert first class guitar player”, explains Barry, pleased to have both members in the band. I was actually shocked to discover Tom plays bass for the band, considering his ability on the guitar are far above the norm. This goes to show that “Barry Arvin Young” isn’t necessarily about egos or intricate solo performances. This band was designed to put people in the mood for dancing, singing along and quite simply… to have a good time while socializing in the bar scene.

“When we perform as a backup band we often use the name “Firefoot”. We just started doing this. We haven’t really recorded as that name yet, and I’m not sure what the future holds for this just yet.” Barry explained.

Barry Arvin Young Band

This 3-piece rock band is capable of pulling off a wide variety of songs, in a situation where all 3 members are able to sing, and each have expert skills on their own instruments. With a growing interest in recent years, last summer was the band’s busiest season ever. Barry also performs an acoustic solo act, which helps fill in his schedule on nights when smaller venues aren’t budgeted to pay a full band.

As far as their original music is concerned, Barry writes the songs and whoever happens to be involved during the time of the recording often has some say over what happens with their own part in the music writing. It’s a pretty standard scenario where he’ll bring an idea out, and after introducing it to the band, the idea blossoms into a song, and often gets recorded.

“We are one of the more eclectic dance bands in the area” says Barry. “We’re often referred to as a little off color”. Possibly due to their age or level of maturity and experiences. The band tries to keep things interesting mixing things up as much as they can. From “Creedance Clearwater Revival” on one end to “Stone Temple Pilots” on the other. “We’ll mix in some “BoDeans” and “Violent Fems” too!”, Barry adds, taking requests whenever possible from their audiences. “We don’t get that heavy, maybe some old “Aerosmith”, or “Foo Fighters”, but that’s about as heavy as we get. The whole thing for us is making sure the girls have something to dance to.”

Whether it’s “Santeria” or “Blister in the Sun”, “The Doors” or “Stevie Ray Vaughan”, the point is to satisfy the audience, and keep the club owners happy, while staying within the musical preference that the band also appreciates playing.

Appeasing The Masses“We worked really hard to get what little we actually got out of our efforts.” Barry’s frustration came mostly during the years when he was writing songs and trying to promote himself up and down the East Coast. “We had some local videos, TV appearances, we were very involved with self-promotion back then.” There was a time when Barry’s efforts to achieve recognition were much more aspiring, compared to his current situation working well within the local music scene.

“We really dealt with a lot of crap back then because we didn’t sound like all of the other “Alice In Chains” ripoff bands that posed as original bands.” His lack of enthusiasm for promoters who rewarded copycat bands versus recognizing true original talent seemed obvious enough. “We were genuinely trying to do our own thing, and the more original our sound was, the more grief we took from our promoters who really wanted us to sound like mainstream bands that were already doing well. They didn’t care about the potential of our songs, they seemed more concerned about the security of selling things they were already familiar with.”


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