Fish Tank #22
Tellin’ Front Porch Stories of Being Lost and Rootless:
A Story of Tim Barry
Throw some beers in your bag, grab a fresh pack of smokes and hop in a boxcar with me, we’re gonna have a nice long talk about Tim Barry. You may be wondering “who in the hell is Tim Barry?” He fronted the amazing RVA punk rock band Avail from 1987-1008 and has had a solo folk punk career under his own name since 2004. This gruff voiced beast of a vocalist has been kickin’ round the scene for 27 years now and ain’t showing much sign of slowing anytime soon. Avail had there albums put out through Lookout and Fat Wreck and currently on Jade Tree. Prior to Avail Tim Barry was in punk band L.D. Kids, don’t know enough about them to write much on it.
The first album from the intersection of hard core and folk known as Avail came out in 1992 titled Satiate. Right out of the gate these southern boys proved they had the chops to keep up with any band anywhere in the scene with an amazing strong debut. Much of the sound on this, including Tim’s vocals, is very reminiscent of Fugazi. A completely solid listen to crank up and feel like your ceiling is gonna fall in on ya.
1994 saw their second album Dixie. They were coming into a sound fully of their own. Vocally it sounds more the Tim Barry voice we know now. As if their playing wasn’t solid enough, it jumps up a few notches on this album. This album even includes a totally bad ass cover of John Mellencamp’s Pink Houses.
1996 gave us what is probably Avail’s best album, 4AM Friday. It kicks off with the incredibly strong opener Simple Song which was featured in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4. Being a band not afraid to evolve this album features more of a straight ahead mid 90’s punk rock sound. They didn’t forsake their hardcore side at all as Monroe Park shows which is an anthem for the pit. Definitely my favorite Avail album here.
1998 saw the release of Over the James. This album is even more of the certain post punk sound that countless bands sine about 2000 have taken influence from. Some tracks still stay to the initial hardcore sound these guys are known for. My stand out on this has to be Cross Tie, kind of an electro folk sound on this one. The re release also features an acoustic of the song Lombardy Street, a hint at Tim’s music to come.
2000 dropped the release One Wrench which opens with a searing hard track to rip the paint off your walls. They continue on with the blend of hard core songs and these near folky songs that have spawned a scene known as beard punk, or Orgcore (whatever the fuck that means). This is as great of a realease as the rest of Avail’s efforts. For this they had left Lookout and been signed to Fat Wreck.
2002 brought us Avail’s final album, Front Porch Stories. They said good bye to everyone with one amazing album. A really interesting track West Wye a bad ass alt country intro to one of Avail’s gnarliest sounding tracks. Avail would be active off and on until 2008. 21 years of one the East Coast’s greatest bands and their farewell record was not at all disappointing.
Since 2004 Tim Barry has been putting out some amazing folk music. As of a couple weeks ago he has 6 albums. Throughout these there’s a personal evolution. It goes from sounding like an angry/ sad drunken hobo in songs like Church of Level Track and Avoiding Catatonic Surrender to sounding more like a satisfied family man with a wanderlust. His latest album Lost and Rootless really exemplifies this. A track on the new album title The James sounds a bit like a nod to his old days struggling to make it with a hard core band in the RVA scene. So if ya don’t know Tim Barry solo or Avail, beg borrow or steal to get this amazing music.