Part of the fun for bluegrass concerts and festivals for some folks is recording them for later listening. Of course, some venues prohibit this, and some artists frown upon it, but for many fans, it’s a great way to recall that awesome banjo break they heard, or expose a friend to a new artist. YouTube and other websites are full of performances, although most of them are fairly recent. For older live performances, a little more digging is required. However, thanks to fans like longtime broadcaster Nick Barr, access to some of those older concerts is now a little easier.
Barr, who is currently the host of Bluegrass Time on Albany, New York based WAMC, donated a large collection of his own personal reel-to-reel tapes and digital copies of the recordings to the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky in 2008. Barr’s collection consisted of recordings of concerts (including house concerts and some he had produced himself) and festivals from the 1960s through the 1980s – one of the most important and transitional eras in bluegrass music. For several years, the recordings were broadcast on Radio Bluegrass International under the title “Nick’s Tape Treasures.”
Although RBI is currently on hiatus, listeners on twenty-six different Northeast Public Radio stations across New York and a few other areas of the northeast can still hear Barr spin his favorite music from the past and present every Saturday night at 10:00 p.m. His radio career spans the past twenty-nine years, with spots on several commercial country stations before he came to WAMC in 2001. Over the years, he has also worked as an emcee and stage manager at bluegrass festivals and has actively worked with the IBMA, IBMM, and other local and regional music associations. Barr is also a musician himself, playing numerous instruments and singing both lead and harmony vocals.
Bluegrass music – and the sharing of it – has obviously been an integral part of Barr’s entire life. We recently had the chance to ask him a few questions about his thoughts on bluegrass. Here’s what he had to say.
How did you first become interested in radio?
“Listening to radio as a teenager.”
How would you define bluegrass music as a genre?
“I can’t write a definition but I know it when I hear it.”
What form of bluegrass do you most enjoy?
What artists do you consider examples of the form you most enjoy?
“No single one.”
If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
“Bear Family box sets.”
Artists who are interested in submitting their music to Barr for airplay consideration can send physical copies to him at:
318 Central Ave.
Albany, NY 12206
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