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Sensible touring schedules matter to Barefoot Truth

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The road can really make or break a band, no matter how long the act has been around or the length of the tour.

Just a few years after forming, Barefoot Truth embarked upon a weekend trip in spring 2007 that wasn’t exactly a Spinal Tap adventure, but it did prompt everyone to think long and hard about future touring.

To start with, there was trouble with the band’s new minivan, and singer/guitarist co-founders Will Evans and Jay Driscoll were fighting strep throat and a cold, respectively. But perhaps worst of all was that Barefoot Truth’s New England-to-Ohio-and-back run involved a tremendous amount of driving over the course of three days, and that was only magnified by the need to be back home in time for college classes on Monday.

“To drive 30 hours for two shows, only to return to final exams, is one way to burn yourself out,” Evans says. “To us, that will always be the scariest part of being a touring band — burning out. We see it all the time with bands at our level. To us, there is no reason to force the issue. When a tour makes logistical sense, it gives you a better sense of purpose. Otherwise, you’re just driving back and forth like a chicken with its head cut off.

“We all know that when the band morale is down, the music suffers, and our goal is to put on a good show for people.”
Tours have been much broader and more structured since then for the rootsy quintet. Last year, Barefoot Truth played in Virginia, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado and Wyoming for the first time.

When they’re not on the road, all five members live together under the same roof in Mystic, Conn.

“We are friends first,” Evans says, “and even if we weren’t in a band, there’s a good chance some of us might still live together.”

One of the positives of this arrangement, he says, is the ability to bounce ideas off one another all the time.

“The minute you come up with a new song, you can start adding everyone’s two cents to it,” he adds.

Like every independent artist, Barefoot Truth is looking for ways to reach listeners, and one avenue that’s helped increase the band’s fan base is the Internet radio site Pandora. Barefoot Truth has racked up a reported 4.5 million spins on Pandora, with most of those plays being for the songs “Roll If Ya Fall” and “The Ocean” (from the 2005 album Changes in the Weather), according to Evans.

That stat bodes well for the potential interest in the new Barefoot Truth album, Threads, due Feb. 16.

“I think Pandora is really like the new Napster,” Evans says. “It’s the most accessible way for indie artists to get free promotion of their music. We’ve always been an advocate of burning our music; we’d rather have more people hear the music than not at all. The hope is that they’ll like what they hear enough to go buy it on iTunes or come see us live.”

— By Chris M. Junior

Barefoot Truth on tour (schedule subject to change:

* Feb. 6: The Dragon’s Egg — Ledyard, Conn.
* Feb. 12: Cafe 939 – Boston
* Feb. 13: Cafe 939 — Boylston, Mass.
* Feb. 18: One Longfellow Square – Portland, Maine
* Feb. 19: Higher Ground – Burlington, Vt.
* Feb. 20: Pearl Street Ballroom – Northampton, Mass.
* Feb. 21: Fairfield Theatre – Fairfield, Conn.
* Feb. 24: Castaways — Ithaca, N.Y.
* Feb. 25: FunkNWaffles — Syracuse, N.Y.
* Feb. 26: Red Square – Albany, N.Y.
* Feb. 27: Highline Ballroom – New York
* Feb. 28: Triumph Brewery – New Hope, Pa.