Legendary Jethro Tull Guitarist Martin Barre
My Freshman year of high school sucked. It was my only year at the snooty regional Catholic school. I didn’t fit in, and I was saddled with long bus rides every day. But there was a silver lining, my stoner bus driver Walt, introduced us to Progressive Rock, and all of the magic that was Jethro Tull. As a skinny tied, skinny runt, I fell in love with the guitar of Tull’s Martin Barre, and this week, I had a chance to pick the brain of a legend who continues to tour prolifically.
Needless to say, I was excited about the opportunity to connect with Barre and pick his brain a bit. I was not disappointed and came away impressed with his deep rock ‘n roll soul, and passion for his music.
Cretin: You’ve been playing for fifty years, yet you are still touring a significant amount of time. What drives you to still hit the road so frequently?
Martin Barre: Music is the love of my life and I will always seek an outlet. As long as I see happy faces, I will play on!
Cretin: Your set lists span 20+ songs most nights. So many rockers of your generation are still delivering long, diverse sets of music these days, while younger musicians are often off stage after a dozen songs. Is that a generational thing?
Martin Barre: In my mind 2 hours (plus tax!) is a decent amount of information musically. I never want to be short and I like to leave an audience at the point where they will come back for more. When I see a show, it’s about the time I want to hear anybody as well.
Cretin: You still play a fantastically diverse set of Jethro Tull songs when you tour live, for someone who has not caught your live set, should they expect those same iconic arrangements or have you reimagined the songs as you’ve matured?
Martin Barre: I’m always fine-tuning what we do and looking for new ideas and fresh material. I want the audience to be surprised
and for us not to be predictable in any way.
Cretin: Your solo efforts from recent years seem to be a mix of progressive and blues. At this point in your career do you prefer one genre over the others?
Martin Barre: I don’t think in genres at all… music has no borders or barriers… I go where my ear takes me, but always I want dynamics and power and space.
Cretin: Your most iconic solo is the one from “Aqualung” which has often been cited as one of the greatest solos ever. Yet, it’s one of the songs you don’t play live.. why?
Martin Barre: Playing “Aqualung” would be a cheap shot… the obvious choice and an instant fix for the crowd. I want to win them over by subtler means and by the end of the show, we don’t need an Aqualung!
Cretin: Tell us a little bit about the band you are touring with this Spring.
Martin Barre: The band is Dan Crisp on guitar and vocals, a friend from near where I live for many years. We have matured and loved working together over the years. Alan Thomson is on bass, mandola and vocals and comes from an amazing musical background. John Martin, John Jorgensen, Pentangle and many others. This tour we have Jonathan Joseph on drums from Jeff Beck, Pat Metheney and many others. He’s an incredible drummer.
Cretin: You’ve collaborated with some amazing musicians over the year, both famous, and not.
Martin Barre: I like to work with as diverse a mix of music as possible…playing a solo in E-Minor for 24 bars is not the same challenge as being out of my comfort zone. This is where things happen!
Cretin: I somehow never realized you played the flute, and always assumed all of the flute pieces in Jethro Tull were Ian Anderson’s. Were any of them yours?
Martin Barre: I played flute from 15 years of age and continue to do so. Over the years, I played on Tull albums and on stage. I still love the instrument.
Cretin: You have a huge Facebook following. How important is social media to rock musicians today?
Martin Barre: Vital. The communication between fans is huge and needs to be respected and helped. I always have time for fans and any way of reaching out is very important to me. (You can visit Martin’s Facebook Page here: Official Martin Barre)
Cretin: I’m an old-school guy, and I feel frustrated by the lack of great rock albums these days. Do you think the art of creating an album is a dying art?
Martin Barre: I think laziness rules and many CDs I buy have one or two decent tracks and the rest sound like they were recorded in a day. I want people to play every track on mine and hopefully, think they are all a part of the whole.
Cretin: Does it irk you that Jethro Tull is not in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame?
Martin Barre: The Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame is diluted in its parameters, so we no longer seem to be a missing link. I will not change either way and wonder who would constitute the original band of Jethro Tull… it might be Mick Abrahams and not me!
Cretin: Will we see you tour with Jethro Tull again?
Martin Barre: I don’t see it and with every new year it seems less likely. I love my band and would choose them beyond any “Tull” line-up. I am too happy to go back to the Tull mindset!
Barre plays at The Plaza Live in Orlando tonight, and tickets are still available. (See all tour dates below).
RARA’s Farm is a rock music blog keenly focused on sharing killer rock music news to the rock music fans who visit our site. Make sure you Like / Follow Us below to keep in the loop on new music worth a listen, or just to be nice to us.
Check out the Martin Barre website for ticket information.
Martin Barre Tour Dates
10 March – The Plaza Live, Orlando FL
15 March – Smiths Old Bar, Atlanta GA
22 March – Revelry Room, Chattanooga TN
23 March – City Winery, Nashville TN
24 March – The Grey Eagle, Asheville NC
25 March – The Harvester Performance Center, Rocky Mount VA
26 March – The Groove Music Hall, Woodford VA
28 March – One Longfellow Square, Portland ME
29 March – One Longfellow Square, Portland ME
30 March – The Gremio Lusitano Club, Ludlow MA
31 March – Daryls House Club, Pawling NY
1 April – The Flying Monkey, Plymouth NH
2 April – Shalin Liu Performance Hall, Rockport MA
6 April – Sportsman Tavern, Buffalo NY
7 April – Aeolian Hall, London ON
11 April – Market Hall Performing Arts Center, Peterborough ON
13 April – Mady Centre for the Performing Arts, Barrie ON
14 April – Club Cafe, Pittsburg PA – Acoustic Show
15 April – Sellersville Theatre, Sellersville PA
21 April – Purple Cat, Chepachet RI – Acoustic Show
22 April – The Regatta Bar, Cambridge MA
23 April – BB Kings, New York NY
28 April – Martyrs’, Chicago IL
29 April – Martyrs’, Chicago IL
1 May – Rams Head On Stage, Annapolis MD
3 May – Natalie’s, Worthington OH
4 May – Natalie’s, Worthington OH
5 May – Music Box Supper Club, Cleveland OH
6 May – Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center, Harrisburg PA
1 September – Yoshi’s, Oakland CA
2 September – The Mystic Theather & Music Hall, Petaluma CA
3 September – Moe ‘s Alley, Santa Cruz CA
16 September – Lancaster Perf. Arts Center, Lancaster CA Tickets
29 September – Jonathan’s, Ogunquit ME
5 October – Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield CT
6 October – Mexicali Live, Teanek NJ
7 October – New Hope Winery, New Hope PA
20 October – The Bridge, Jefferson City MO
21 October – Wildey Theatre, Edwardsville IL
22 October – Reggie’s Rock Festival, Chicago IL
27 October – Callahan ‘s Music Hall, Auburn Hills MI
28 October – Callahan ‘s Music Hall, Auburn Hills MI