The Santa Cruz Sentinel says Bev Barnett & Greg Newlon “take a
sophisticated approach to their contemporary Folk and Americana.”
Ronn Owens of KGO Radio San Francisco just says “wow, that’s smooth!”
Jumping the lines between acoustic soul and folk rock, Bev Barnett & Greg Newlon create a place where you can relax in the comfort of the groove – and know you’re going to leave smiling and just a little more hopeful. The first thing you’ll notice is the blend of their harmonies, along with rhythmic guitar that drives a compelling tension and release. Greg’s guitar pushes – Bev’s voice pulls – together exploring life, love and the pursuit of something real. The connection they have with each other flows through the audience with each song and story, each poignant note and each moment of laughter.
Building on a background of performing jazz, classical and American contemporary music in the woodwind section, Bev has a gift for delivering the essence of a song. Her voice has been called angelic – but with the ability to ‘turn down the sheets.’ She is, above all, a hopeful creative. A soulful communicator. A passionate songwriter.
Newlon’s guitar encircles the song as he finds his way between the notes with fluidity and strength. His guitar and vocal arrangements are the result of a long and varied musical journey from his rock beginnings combined with a background in musical theatre and barbershop, to the country rock sound of Aspen in the late 1970s and more recently through blues, country and modern folk. All of these influences have shaped his unique, contemporary acoustic style.
More About Greg
He’s shared a cigarette with Jim Morrison, and he’s shown a room full of fourth graders that any song can be played in bluegrass style. The fourth graders were more appreciative.
As a child, Greg began harmonizing with his mother as she sang and played the ukulele and organ. He picked up his first guitar at 13, and was pe
rforming with a local Chicago band at 14. His life-long musical experience is varied, including choirs, barbershop quartet, musical th
eatre, and bands representing every style from blues to rock. Greg’s barbershop influence is evident in the harmony he marries to Bev’s sometimes sultry, sometimes innocent, lead vocals.
Greg played in local bands in and around Chicago during the 1960s and 70s and was active in the Aspen music scene of the late 1970s playing country rock. After moving to California in 1979, Greg found himself cursed with the need to make a living. Ignoring his musical muse, he didn’t pick up a guitar for 15 years. In the mid-90s he began performing with various classic rock, blues and country bands in the San Francisco Bay Area, then teaming up with Bev in 1998.
The story behind sharing the cigarette with Jim Morrison? It was 1967. The Midwest Hydraulic Company consisted of four young kids who caught a break and got booked to open for the Doors on the mid-West leg of their tour. Ask Greg about it and he’ll say “We were 17. We sucked.”
And yes, he was a hit in Mr. Campbell’s 4th grade classroom where he demonstrated to an uncharacteristically attentive room of 9 year olds that ANY song can be played in bluegrass style.
Newlon describes his performance experience this way “you’re always looking for the zone, that place that, when you get to it, everyone is right there with you. So even if you’re playing a solo show, music is never a solo performance. It’s a spiritual journey where the goal is always the zone, the ensemble. Some times the ensemble is the band. Sometimes its solo guitar and a single listener… and the listener completes the ensemble.”
More about Bev
Roots music runs deep for this native Texas girl, fed by many summers listening to uncles and grandparents picking on the porch. Guitars, fiddles and mandolins were a staple, right up there with sweet tea and black eyed peas.
Transplanted to California at an early age, Bev took up the clarinet in the 4th grade. Then flute in 6th grade. Saxophone in 7th. Bassoon in 8th. She tried the French horn high school, but found out brass wasn’t her thing. The whole spit valve issue was less than appealing. As a teenager moving from California to Illinois and back again, music always gave her a place to belong. She eventually ended up choreographing color guard rifle routines for the Northern Illinois University Huskie Show Band. Staying in the woodwind section would have been safer.
Spending all that time in band, she never really thought about singing. Now skip ahead a decade or so. One day someone said “hey, you should join the church choir.” Bev has a problem saying no. So, there she was in the alto section in a red choir robe.
After meeting Greg in the late 1990s, she began singing with him and the immediate response was about this amazing blend that happened between their voices, likened to sibling harmonies. Mark Whittington was entertainment editor of the San Jose Mercury News at the time and he called it “bedroom harmony, or kitchen table harmony.” No matter what you call it, it works.
Bev’s artistic endeavors are wide and varied, from songwriting to hand made paper to ceramic sculpture as a medium for emotional creativity. She is intrigued with using recycled and found objects, especially guitar strings, in her visual art. Guitar string earrings are a specialty.