Story by Abby McClain, photos by Kristin Schaeffer
The members of the Barrel House band come from a variety of backgrounds; hailing from Oregon to New Jersey and working in fields from restaurants to geology, but when they get together it seems like they have been working together their entire lives. The band formed in January of 2014 and includes Barb Atkinson as lead vocals, Will Chambers on rhythm guitar, Rick Constantino on drums, David Chambers on bass, and Chase Nash on lead guitar. They draw influences from artists such as BB King, Led Zeppelin, and Janis Joplin. The band’s performance is full of soul and amazing energy; each band member bringing their own flavor from their background, humour, and passion for music.
Early in the 1980’s Chase’s uncle left some of his guitars at his grandfather’s house and Chase took a couple home to play. His parents wouldn’t buy him an amp so he remembers putting the headstock of the guitar up against a piano they had, using the piano as a makeshift amp. He finally got an amp to play songs off of the Van Halen album 1984 with a couple friends of his. Chase has extraordinary knowledge of music and enjoys discussing and debating music and classic bands.
Music has been a part of Rick’s life for as long as he can remember; Growing up, his father was always singing and even got the chance to record. Music is an outlet for Rick. “It’s like a panel with two switches,” he explains, “Music on, world off.” As a kid, Rick’s dad bought him a drum set which got destroyed during a party hosted by his older brothers. When Rick discovered the broken drum set he threw a fit until his father bought him another and he has been creating music ever since.
Will only picked up the guitar seven years ago, but it did not take long for him get the hang of it and decide to join a band. While he enjoys playing solo, he admits “it’s a cliche, but that saying the whole is greater than the sum of its parts is true. It sounds cool separately but when you combine it the energy levels just go up and you’ll be playing along, even in practice, and you just feel it.” One of the most rewarding parts of being in a band to him is when they play a show and he can feel that energy in the audience.
Though he is the newest member to Barrel House, David has been playing music his entire life. He tried to join his school’s band in fourth and fifth grade, but was not able to so instead he joined the school orchestra. Finally, in sixth grade the school let him join band and he has stuck with it ever since. “It’s an emptiness that you feel inside and nothing else can fill it.” He says. “And if you stop playing, well, there’s a problem and people notice right off the bat.” David’s passion for music has lead him to many different bands; He has learned that as a musician, you rise to the level of those around you, and iis grateful to have found a band with such talent.
Though she played the clarinet in school, Barb did not start singing until working in Memphis, Tennessee and being invited out by coworkers. She recalls being told to sing louder, but with experience and the support of her bandmates the audience is able to experience the full power and range of her strong vocals. “All four of these guys have my back;” she says, “ and when on stage, nakedly pouring out your soul to a crowd, that combination of camaraderie, energy, and trust is a deeply beautiful thing.” Barb stresses that the music is an equal contribution between all bandmembers and that none of them could do this without the others.
Barrel House has played at many local events and venues including shows for All That Jazz, the Oil City Harley Davidson Anniversary, Casper Oktoberfest, and more. To keep up to date with the band and see show dates you can find them on Facebook and Reverbnation.com. For booking information call Barb at (307)251-6465 or Will at (307)277-1244.