Barry Wells is a name I’ve seen and heard persistently over the last four-plus years. Like many musicians on the Outer Banks, I sent him a Facebook friend request – or maybe he sent me one – because I was new here. When you’re the new kid on the block, you’re pretty much required to network. These connections might benefit you and hopefully is beneficial to them, not to mention maybe make a friend or two.
Because of his physical distance from my neighborhood (Rodanthe and points south are his stomping grounds), Wells, 36, has gotten short shrift from me. And, due to conflicting work schedules, when he has been in my neck of the woods, I never had a chance to hear his band, Blurky's Quirky Friends.
That’s my loss and this, I hope, is partial rectification.
Wells’ “product” is unique and a rare jewel. He and his band play all originals. Not the standard beach fare for our annual visitors who tend to gravitate toward that which is familiar. His music is of a quality that is immediately relatable. And fun. That’s what folks come here for — fun.
I listened to the Blurky album “Easytown” at bandcamp.com. It’s lo-fi, loose, varied and not what I expected. I really enjoyed it. I liken it to “The Basement Tapes” by Bob Dylan and the Band. Not bad company, at all.
I reached out to Wells and asked how he’s been handing the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s what he thinks:
What has been the hardest part of dealing with the pandemic?
Fourth-grade fractions. My girlfriend’s son is 10 years old … . Elementary math these days is HARD, way different. I did a problem, got the right answer but it was wrong because of the way they teach it to kids these days.
What have you been doing during the shutdown?
For income? Let’s see, I did some construction early winter and spring. Started turning wrenches at my dad’s auto shop. Got my CPO (certified pool and spa operator) last fall so cleaning pools and tubs when they prematurely opened things back up. Now it looks like weddings and music are coming to fruition, so I try to keep busy. I’ve always been a jack of all trades, master of nothing type of guy!
Have you started or completed any projects?
My back taxes! Hahahaha. I did enjoy the first part of the quarantine to try to focus on unfinished recordings, writings, and various things of that nature, but at the same time I have a lot of that (stuff) lingering inside and the self-motivation was surprisingly quite hard to come by. It’s tough to just do everything by yourself and sustain that drive. When the no income thing started to take a toll, it was time to shelve that stuff once again and roll up the sleeves, so to speak. I also just started Sea Sharp Music, a new company for all my various music endeavors, to try to keep things legit for Uncle Sam.
What have you missed the most?
Hugs. Even today with that slight bit of hesitation when you see someone you haven’t in a long time, it’s not the same!
What concerns you going ahead?
Well if it’s anything like the “FLU,” we’ll find out next “FLU” season. I am not paranoid, but I’ve been pretty cautious throughout this whole crud.
Is there any music that has helped you get through this? Or, what have you been listening to?
I am always like a pinball machine when it comes to what I am listening to. Joey Harkum has been a mainstay for the past year or two as far as inspiration. He is a great storyteller from Baltimore, where I was born. I had my John Prine tribute going on for a while there when he passed. ZM dropped a dope album just in time for the shutdown, too!
Who or what keeps you centered?
My future wife Destinee. We met last year, bonded like no other, rushed into things, and are succeeding as a team and little family. She’s brought a home-style life to my chaotic, nomadic, 24/7, self-sustaining, live on vacation, party world I created for myself over the years down here and it was the right place/right time for me, personally. Of course, we argue like any couple, but you can’t argue the fact that I am in a happy place deep down, for the first time in a long time! And I still know how to get down and let loose; I just have that special someone to share it with now!
What has encouraged you during the pandemic?
The human species has always adapted and survived. So, I would say HOPE that we come out more universally connected as a world species, other than as separate nations and ethnicities. I think there is a beautiful song about that somewhere that a beautiful person wrote.
What has discouraged you during the pandemic?
The selfishness and division in this country is pathetic and saddening. Again, I am always the optimist, so I carry that HOPE!
What has surprised you the most?
I don’t think anything has surprised me, to be honest. I’ve been well aware of how messed up our society is and always has been. That is why I live sheltered away in my little nest on my little island and refuse to conform for long. rebel with a cause, for all the James Dean fans out there!
How will you keep yourself safe when work resumes?
Just keep on keepin’ on. We need a sense of normalcy, whatever that is. I’ve heard the "new normal." I don’t know. I wear a mask at stores that require it, out of respect. Again, I’ve been cautious throughout, but far from paranoid.
Are there any new insights you’ve gained or new activities that you’ve engaged in that you’d like to maintain going forward?
Me and the little man started flying remote-controlled planes. It was fun until we both crashed ours. Now it’s just another expensive hobby to keep up with, but it was a great outdoor socially distanced activity during the initial quarantine.