Bobby Bare Jr. jams at the Pub

Annie Bartholomew/Sun Star Reporter
Sept. 24, 2013

Nashville songwriter Bobby Bare Jr. addresses the audience between songs at the UAF Pub on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013. Annie Bartholomew/Sun Star

Nashville songwriter Bobby Bare Jr. addresses the audience between songs at the UAF Pub on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013. Annie Bartholomew/Sun Star

Five dollars wasn’t too high a price to persuade the UAF students who filled out the UAF Pub Saturday night. Nashville band Bobby Bare Jr. played nearly two hours of music rooted in American folk, country and rock and roll.

“I think everybody dug it,” front man Bobby Bare Jr. said with a hint of Tennessee in his voice.

Bare Jr.  is son of country music star, Robert “Bobby” Bare who experienced commercial success during the ’60s and ’70s. In ’74 the father and son were nominated for a Grammy with their duet “Daddy What If.” Bare Jr. was only eight-years-old at the time.  The song was part of an album written by famed children’s poet and Bare’s friend, Shel Silverstein. During his life, Silverstein co-wrote Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” and Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show’s “Sylvia Mother.”

With wild hair and striking blue eyes, Bare Jr. sang a heavier, distorted version of the famous ’70s song “Cover of the Rolling Stone” which was also co-written by Silverstein. “He critiqued every song I wrote til’ the day he died,” Bare Jr. said packing up after The Pub show. Two summers ago, Bare Jr. and his father recorded a tribute album of Shel Silverstein songs with My Morning Jacket, Lucinda Williams, Andrew Bird, the Pixies and Dr. Dog who played the UAF Pub last Fall.

UAF Pub attendant and Physics student Haley Nelson compared the energy of the group to southern rock band the Allman Brothers. “Is it cliché to say I liked them?”

Supporting Bare Jr. was the snarky organ player James Matthew Rowland who claimed Hollywood sing-alongs with actress Scarlett Johansson. Straight out of Murfreesboro Tenn. Rowland played with a hand on each keyboard, one instrument filtered through a Moog synthesizer. “Playing with Bobby is like playing jazz,” he said smoking a cigarette outside The Pub, “You try to hit as many bad notes as possible.” Head to toe in Army Surplus camouflage, Rowland proclaimed Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson as a red neck prophet. “Duck Dynasty makes the world accept me for who I am,” Rowland said in a theatrical drawl, “They’re not just rednecks, they’re purveyors of a very fine culture I adhere to myself.”

For an encore, Rowland played out the opening chords and intro to Norman Greenbaum’s ’70s classic “Spirit in the Sky.” After filling the dance floor, the band spun off into a Bobby Bare Jr. original. “We teased you with about 20 songs tonight,”  Bare Jr. said, adding that Alaska exceeded all of his expectations. “I hope there’s more people standing up dancing next time,” he said alluding to future tours of the 49th state.

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