First… a bit of background…
According to his website, Jason Barie grew up in Florida, picked up his first fiddle at the age of 10, took classical music lessons beginning in the fifth grade, learned to play bluegrass at a local music store, and, by age 14, began playing in his first band. Soon after, he started competing in local fiddle competitions and eventually went on to be named Florida State Champion. After graduating from high school at 17, he landed his first national tour, playing in a Florida-based group called Sand Mountain.
Four years later, Barie landed a gig with Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road. He was with the group five years and then left to become a seasoned sideman, adding such prominent ensembles as The Churchmen, Bobby Osborne & the Rocky Top Express, and Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys to his burgeoning resume. He played the Grand Ole Opry, enlisted as the first full-time fiddle player in Larry Stephenson’s band, and then spent six years performing as part of Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. That led to his current gig with Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers.
That’s quite a storied resume, but it all boils down to the fact that Barrie’s dedication to bluegrass has been a steady occupation since early on. While some artists are weaned on the sound but take off in different directions, Barrie’s never strayed from the roots he grew up on. That’s a rarity these days, but as his latest album Pieces demonstrates, he’s avoided any temptation to pursue music that might bring him more commercial consideration.
Evenly divided between instrumental forays and a select number of classic covers, this new effort finds Barie doling out an abundance of genuine fiddle frenzy, offering additional output on mandolin and guitar. To his credit, he enlists the assistance of others as well, including Del McCoury, Doyle Lawson, and a host of other veteran virtuosos. Whether it’s the swaying serenade he employs on Hank Williams’ I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, the clarity and conviction shared on a spate of traditional tunes, or an emotional take on the ever-enduring Ashokan Farewell, he varies the template with the reverence and dedication each offering clearly calls for. Several of the songs — Sasssafras, Sarah Jo, Diary of my Mind, and the aptly-named solo showcase The Rapido Kid among them — sound like archival examples of a hootenanny that gets folks up to the dance floor as part of a Saturday night celebration, given the festive frenzy and the uptempo treatment applied each of them offers.
Barie refers to himself as “The Ramblin’ Fiddler” and the handle is well deserved. Credit him for keeping his sensibilities intact and refusing to compromise his craft.