Barefoot Truth follow thread to Noho

By Amy Larson

Barefoot Truth will take the Iron Horse stage twice this Saturday night, Feb. 19. They will perform a feel-good, acoustic set first at 7 p.m., then allow Jamie Kent & The Options to open up for their second electric set at 10 p.m. Their stop in Northampton is part of a Northeast tour showcasing their spring 2010 release, “Threads.”

The Mystic, Conn. bubbly, folk-rock group recorded “Threads” in both Boston and Amherst . Lead guitarist Jay Driscoll stated that one of the goals when recording the album was to “create an album full of songs that work well in a live setting.” And they succeeded. Fans embraced the energetic tunes and accompanying positive lyrical messages. “Threads” even passed Dave Matthews Band at one point last year on the iTunes Rock chart.

Barefoot Truth began in 2003 as acoustic duo of current lead vocalist and drummer Will Evans and guitarist Driscoll. Driscoll, who graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 2007, recalled composing some of their first songs in the stairwell of John Quincy Adams Hall, because his “quiet floor” had no tolerance for their rocking. Being at UMass was also a good time for the two to develop their fun, charismatic stage presence. Driscoll’s earliest memories of performing were on the steps outside of Berkshire DC playing Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys songs with, interestingly enough, the basketball team. “Usually we would have a crowd,” he nostalgically recounted.

The band made the bold, but wise decision to make their act a full-time commitment after  graduation in 2007. Upright and electric bassist, Andy Wrba, studied jazz at Westfield State University, where he met pianist John Waynelovich. Garrett Duffy got his start on harmonica while attending St. Michael’s College in Vermont.

So how did an indie band from humble New England beginnings gain national recognition? The answer is the free Internet radio website To date, Barefoot Truth’s track, “Roll If Ya Fall” has about five million views, while Bob Dylan’s famous tune “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” has 1.2 million. Their explosive web-based popularity has snatched the attention of USA Today, The Washington Post and the video game Rock Band.

The quintet cites Dispatch as one of their chief influences, covering several of their songs. They’ve said that they “really looked up to Dispatch for their music and their journey as an independent band.” While recording “Threads,” they got to live the dream of touring with Pete Francis of Dispatch. He said that it was a “constant thrill” to be able to play BFT and Dispatch tunes while sharing the stage with one of his musical inspirations.

During their live shows, they engage the crowd with happy melodies and peaceful, uplifting messages. The fact that their lead singer happens to also be the drummer never constrains the power of the lyrics. They blend smooth acoustic guitar lines, excited drumbeats and groovy bass lines to create a high-energy sound.

Barefoot Truth enjoys playing colleges and festivals, including Summerfest and the 10,000 Lakes Festival. In 2010 alone, the group played dozens of cities around the country, but Jay Driscoll described the Iron Horse in Northampton as a “special place” and a “cozy and intimate setting for a live show.”

Between Barefoot Truth’s two acts on Saturday night will be Jamie Kent & The Options. Jamie Kent is a 23-year-old singer songwriter local to the Amherst/Northampton area. The Options are his jam band style instrumentalists who offer an upbeat tone similar to that of Barefoot Truth.

Tickets for the show are $12 in advance, $15 at the door.

Amy Larson can be reached at [email protected].