Winterfest: Live on the Vine with Jesse Barnes

After a month of record low temperatures, locals should be itching to get out and enjoy the eleventh year of Winterfest: Live on the Vine as it heats up the East End. Enjoy events—including music and performing arts—at wineries, restaurants, breweries, stores, hotels, theaters and art galleries across the North and South Forks. From Feb. 22 to March 18, events will include comedy shows, wine tastings, yoga, jewelry-making, painting, theater and the music of acts like jazz artist Matt Marshak, local rock legends Blue Oyster Cult and the Marshall Tucker Band.

Brooklyn-based singer/guitarist/composer Jesse Barnes will also be playing at Bistro 72 on Saturday, Feb. 24 from 7-10pm.

Growing up in Cleveland, Barnes was influenced by hip hop. But, when he picked up the guitar, he tried to emulate blues icons like Freddie and Albert King. “These days, the most obvious influence on my sound would be bossa nova,” said Barnes. “I’ve become sort of a Brazilophile the last 10 years.”

Barnes, whose solo sound has been compared to jazz singer/songwriter Michael Franks (The Art of Tea) discussed Winterfest, his eclectic style and performing with Eli “Paperboy” Reed.

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What can we expect to hear when you play Bistro 72 for Winterfest?
Although I’ll play a few blues tunes that night, the set at Bistro 72 will be closer to jazz and bossa nova…I jokingly refer to it as my gringo bossa nova. I’ll be playing electric guitar and use a loop pedal, which frees me up to solo and experiment. Along with my songs, I’ll be doing bossa and jazz standards as well as a few popular tunes arranged in my style. A few interesting ones may be Hall and Oates’ “Maneater,” Aretha Franklin’s “Until You Come Back to Me” and Randy Newman’s “Dayton, Ohio – 1903” from his near-perfect 1972 album Sail Away.

What was it like playing guitar for the High and Mighty Brass Band, and R&B artist Eli “Paperboy” Reed?
Coincidentally, Eli “Paperboy” Reed just made an album with the High and Mighty Brass Band that will come out this year. That collaboration totally made sense and the record is funky and raucous and soulful, everything one would expect from that crew. I was supposed to play guitar on it but sadly it didn’t work out due to scheduling conflicts…Touring with Eli was a blast. He’s such a high-energy performer that he elevates the band on stage. I got to travel the world because of him, which I’m very grateful for. We traveled practically everywhere in Europe as well as Japan, Australia and New Zealand. I don’t perform with Eli currently but we stay in touch. We recently wrote a song together that will be on his next album.

Are you still part of the psych lo-fi folk duo Take Berlin?
I’m still in Take Berlin but we’ve both been busy with other things this past year. Yvonne, my partner in the group who records under the name Panteon, just released her first record which I helped produce. It’s called Travel Log 1 and came out Jan. 19. Coincidentally, I’ll be joining Panteon and another Long Island musician Jon Divello, for their European tour in February. I also produced a record for Jon, which should come out in 2018. Who knows, maybe we’ll have some new Take Berlin stuff later this year!

Any new material in the works?
I’m currently mixing an album of my music for release in the fall. The record has the world music and folk vibes that I’m typically into, but it also has a healthy dose of hip hop and R&B…a much bigger sound than anything I’ve put out before.

What do you like about Winterfest events?
I appreciate that Winterfest focuses on local talent and live music—two things we are investing in less and less. It also brings some attention and money into the area during the frigid winter months, which have typically been a time of hibernation in the past.

lisa heffernan

Lisa Heffernan received a master’s in Communications from Emerson College before moving to New York. She has worked for publications such as: Details, Nylon, Rolling Stone, Time Out, Newport Mercury, American Songwriter and W magazine.