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- Who: The Barry Leef Band with Peter Northcote
- Where: Lithgow Workies
- When: Saturday, February 1
- Time: 8.30pm
- Tickets: $25
Eddie Van Halen once said: "If you want... to be famous, then run down the street naked, you'll make the news... but if you want music to be your livelihood, then play, play, play... Eventually you'll get to where you want to be."
Few embody this statement more than celebrated indy rocker Barry Leef, who has spent the last fifty odd years gigging, from Sydney's hottest night spots to some the nation's biggest music halls, he's seen them all.
He's played with grifters and legends alike. In fact, he even toured with the legendary Frank Zappa. On Saturday, February 1, he and longtime collaborator Peter Northcote, will bring his new show 'Crossroads' to the Lithgow Workies.
The show will be an upbeat celebration of West Coast rock including hits from favourites like the Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, Santana, The Eagles and much, much more.
Barry will also be promoting his stunning new album Rhythmized, a 70s revival which combines his signature smooth style with his interpretations of some of the hits which have meant the most to him over the years.
An autobiography of sorts, the album includes tracks like "Baby Come Back" by Player and a blistering cover of "Can't Find My Way Home" by Blind Faith, which was later popularised by Eric Clapton.
In many ways, Rhythmized is the sum of an incredible career. It's honest. It's raw. But most of all, it's authentic. However, it's also deeply personal for another reason.
"The main idea for the album came about when my mum passed away," he explained.
"She left me a small amount of money and my mum was my biggest fan. I'd had the concept for the album in my mind for a really long time but had never recorded any of it. So, when that happened, I decided I'd do it and dedicate it to her."
When Barry was a child his mum Nesta knew how talented her young son was. She entered him in every talent quest and festival she could find and gave him endless praise and encouragement. As he grew, so too did the music bug inside him.
Barry grew up in New Zealand and was heavily influenced by American music in the late 60s. He formed a band in high school and began to embrace his identity as a musician. The fuse had been lit.
He'd go on to work with Simple Image, who became massive in New Zealand. They toured the country for four years and even had a number one hit.
In 1969 though, having taken his career as far as he could in his homeland, he decided to move to Australia, namely Sydney which was in the grips of its own musical and cultural revolution.
"I came to Australia at one of the best times ever (for musicians). It was bad because the Vietnam War was happening but that was also bringing in the American GIs on R and R," Barry explained.
"Every club in Sydney was packed and playing the music we loved, which was soul and motown, rnb, west coast. There was so much work. We were playing six nights a week."
It was this environment which led to his most exciting musical experience: playing with the legendary Frank Zappa.
While working in Checkers in Sydney one night, he was covering Road Ladies when a bloke walked in who looked just like Zappa.
"He wandered in and sat down and we were all looking out at him going, 'it can't be' but it was," Barry recalled.
"After the show one of his guys came and saw us and said Frank loved the show. He'd like to meet you. So we said yes, obviously, and he came back stage.
"He sat and was talking to me and said 'come and meet me tomorrow'. So I did and he said he wanted me to join the Mothers. It was right at the time when he'd just released Over-Nite Sensation," he continued.
"He had Ricky Lancelotti and he needed someone else (to do vocals with him)... He asked me to come on the road with him for a few weeks and see how it goes. Playing with George Duke and the other guys was just mind blowing.
"At the end of the tour he said to me 'Are you under contract with anyone?' and I said 'Yeah' but I didn't think that would matter but, it turned out it was a pretty tight contract.
"When his legal department saw that I got a telegram from them saying they couldn't bring me into the country. So, that put an end to that."
While his chance to join the Mothers turned out to be a bust, it didn't take long for the story to make its way around town. This helped build Barry's profile. It also led to him getting a full time contract playing at the Musicians Club (one of Sydney's hottest venues).
He played there four nights a week for four to five years to packed crowds. It was there he met a 15-year-old Peter Northcote. As time went by the pair became close friends and frequent collaborators.
When it came time to do Rhythmized, he knew he was only man that could be trusted to play lead guitar and do the solos, especially when retreading ground that Eric Clapton had trod before them.
He also engaged producer Kere Buchanan and sound engineer Keith Walker for the album and went with the trio to Sydney's iconic 301 Studios.
These days, Barry only plays gigs that mean something to him. That's why he says he can't wait to bring his show Lithgow.
The performance will be a one off. In the wake of the recent fires, he hopes locals will come out and spend a night together as a community.
The show will take place at the Lithgow Workies on Saturday, February 1. The show start at 8.30pm.
Story sponsored by Leonards Advertising.