Reviews of Sinnerboy (Through the years)

Fitting tribute to Irish blues rocker

Rory Gallagher was a guitarist and song-writer of huge significance
and prodigious talent. His premature death in 1995 at the age of just
47 was a great loss to rock music.


The music then. The Friday took occupancy is well organized this year, the kick-off is provided by the British Sinnerboy with fronting the beloved, never missing and unmistakable Barry Barnes. With Robin on bass and Jonny on drums the band play with so much passion Gallagher, that they have managed to bring it like no other. The cool attitude on bass and the energetic Barry is a wonderful combination. They took the well-stocked bar by the throat and not let go until the last note. An hour flies it were a few minutes. It's almost a shame that Barnes dedicate his musical life to Gallagher course it is no hidden secret there is a great musician in him.

Saturday 12.09.1981: A.E.K’s stadium in N. Philadelphia is full of spectators, not for any football match, but to enjoy Rory Gallagher’s live performance. Several years later, many are those who still remember that concert and remain thrilled and others who wish to have been born 10 years earlier.

Friday 02.02.2007: 26 years later, Rory Gallagher returns to Athens, in Rodeo Club, via his official tribute band, the Sinnerboy, and we don’t need much hesitation to go there. Barry Barnes (guitar, vocals), Dave Burns (bass) and Steve Tansley (drums), await for us at 22.00 and although the concert started at about 23.30, no one complained when it was over, just because we had been able to watch an excellent music performance. Do you wonder why? Simple is the answer: two and a half hours with a small interval lasting three minutes at most (!) and three humans-magicians traveling our imagination many years ago, with their cheerful mood, their longing passion and their freshness. This waiting though, became sweet when the time of the live show arrived, when these three guys jumped on stage and the voyage began. The public showed warm response immediately and Barry’s humour played an important role for this. It’s hard to give birth to such a legend of music and to have the unlimited approval of an audience who follows you everywhere.

After the third-fourth song, things lead their own way, requests one after the other in a breathtaking rythm, and someone shouted "Cruise On Out" and look! A Panic! All became as one captivated by the unique Sinnerboy’s solo. A Dream. It’s beyond any doubt that whoever was there can exactly realize the feelings and the emotion we felt ourselves. If one did not look at the stage, he would believe for sure that it is Rory singing!
A remarkable fact was the guitarist’s come down from stage, when he joined the public, playing among us with no problem at all. This made the crowd embrace them even more and not stop applauding between the songs. "Walk On Hot Coals", "Crest Of A Wave", "Shin Kicker" and the good ones didn’t delay to come: "Philby" (yes, we saw this too!), "Calling Card", "Secret Agent", "Bad Penny", "Tattoo'd Lady" and somewhere in the middle there came the big surprise. Barry asks the question: «Do you remember Taste;». "What's Going On" could not be postponed at that time. Eh, the "A Million Miles Away" came right afterwards, completing it all. I, personally, would have wished nothing more at that moment - Rory was there, filling our ears with his innovative music and the dream of his youngest fans had come true.

Of course, Sinnerboy didn’t stop there. Almost two hours of live performance had been spent with no interrupt drinking huge quantities of beer (specifically, Steve raised to the public 3 empty bottles he just had drunk) and here is what followed next: "Moonchild" and Rodeo was shaking. The first small interval to rest came at about that moment -20 songs had already been played- and when the concert started again we stretched our necks: "Shadow Play" which lasted, come to think of this, nine minutes, as Barry didn’t mean to stop, shouting endlessly and playing various differential solos with great success. He had a second come down finding himself among much fewer audience than before, because it was late, and started «striking» like a teenager accompanied by us with all the power his body could stand after such a flow of energy he gave before. He asked who would come tomorrow and enough hands raised on air declaring “yes”.

What should one play for an epilogue? Big dilemma, but the Sinnerboy managed to solve it in the best way: "Too Much Alcohol" in the memory of Rory Gallagher. Emotion, emotion, emotion... Two and a half hours and if there had been more spectators left, we would still be there. It was two after midnight and our going back home was now for real. The feelings various and many. Satisfaction no doubt, much alcohol and the expectations fulfilled. No one of all of us had had imagined such a live performance, such a loss.

The year 2007 started with the finest auguries giving us away two Irish bands (The Answer, Sinnerboy) who have pure hard rock in vein and much courage. We expect the same for what comes next. Now, what can one say about Rory Gallagher? A great composer? An amazing guitarist? An emotional singer? An unlucky man? No matter what, Rory lives in our hearts and undoubtedly he is a big and important piece of the modern music history. But, on Friday 02.02.07 he was somewhere into Rodeo, before our eyes...

"Hey Rory... that must have been the best whiskey I' ve ever had, cheers mate..."

Maria Voutiriadou-Giorgos Zarkadoulas

"Come on people, we are here to celebrate the greatest man to ever pick up a Fender Stratocaster - his name was Rory Gallagher."
So proclaimed Sinnerboy frontman Barry Barnes, and so began a night of raw and powerful rock 'n' roll as the Manchester-based tribute band launched into Cradle Rock, soulfully replicating the opener of Gallagher's 1974 Irish tour album.

To open their three-hour concert in the Ormonde Hotel on Saturday night, Barnes had gently warmed up the crowd with an acoustic set which included Blind Boy Fuller's Pistol Slapper Blues, Son House's Empire State Express, Out On The Western Plain and Moonchild. And once the guitarist was joined onstage by bassist Dave Burns and drummer Steve Richardson there
was no holding back as the diehard Gallagher fans were clearly there to rock.

The trio displayed incredible skill throughout the night, and yet what truly stole the show was the music itself. As one Gallagher fan explained when asked how the band was able to rock so hard, "It's because Rory Gallagher wrote all the songs."
In fact that's one reason Sinnerboy's performance was such a fitting celebration of the legendary guitarist - they were clearly passionate about and in awe of both the music and the man who blessed us with it.

Playing favourites such as A Million Miles Away, As The Crow Flies and Tattoo'd Lady, the band energised the crowd, including fans from the Gallagher pub The Meeting Place in Midleton, Co Cork and a family who were following Sinnerboy for the length of
their current tour. By the time they ended the night with the fantastic Messin' With The Kid a good few people wereout of their seats, dancing in front of the stage and, fittingly, playing their hearts out on their air guitars.

In the absence of Rory Gallagher, whose anniversary is today (Wednesday), Sinnerboy are clearly the next best thing.

Tess Felder

Sinnerboy - Rory Gallagher Tribute
Sinnerboy brought the music of the late, great Rory Gallagher to Mr Kyps last night. The biggest compliment I can pay the band is that I left the gig with a feeling of great satisfaction, that I had just heard Rory's music played with huge affection & passion. These attributes coupled with superb musicianship led to a top class performance. No wonder this band is a particular favourite of Rory's brother Donal, and are frequently asked to play many Rory Gallagher conventions, memorials etc. Upon taking the stage, frontman and lead guitarist Barry Barnes told the unfortunately sparse crowd "Don't leave without having heard your favourite Rory track". Yes, such is the confidence in their mastery of their subject, Sinnerboy took requests from the floor throughout their set. Did they subconsciously hold back due to the low turnout - not a chance!!

Classics alongside 'fan only' material were performed to perfection - Cradle Rock, Shinkicker, Going to My Hometown, Walk on Hot Coals and Shadowplay sat seamlessly alongside superb album cuts such as Bad Penny, I Fall Apart, Laundromat & A Million Miles Away. The last track was used as a tribute to Rory's Mum who Barry announced had passed away some 5hrs prior to the gig. What a poignant moment, the track being performed in a fashion that Rory himself would have undoubtedly seen as a fitting tribute. Whether playing acoustically or full on Blues/Rock Barry Barnes is an ideal frontman for a three-piece line-up, clearly enjoying rapport between band and audience. Dave Burns on bass and Steve Richardson on drums (also life long Rory fans) laid down the perfect foundation for Barry to work over, and he didn't disappoint.

I had seen a much higher profile act at Kyps a few nights prior to the Sinnerboy gig, and quite frankly left that gig somewhat disappointed...the Sinnerboy guys deserved that crowd. Taste / Rory fan or not, if you like your 3 piece Blues / Rock you must catch Sinnerboy - I guarantee you will not be let down. This band transcend the tribute tag. To them, the tribute is the music itself. Music that has stood the test of time and sounds as fresh today as when written. Come back soon guys (on a night in the week). With such a quality back catalogue to dip into and your ability to play any number therein, boring you aint! A standing gig would undoubtedly suit you more, giving that intimacy with the audience on which you so clearly thrive. Well done lads - Rory would have been proud! Couldn't close without a mention for the sole occupant of the Mosh Pit last night - 'Air Guitar With a Twist' - well done that man (you had to be there!)

Tony Whitley

Sinnerboy - Rory Gallagher Tribute
Intrepid music fan, allow me to set the scene; a balmy Sunday evening, not too hot, and an air of expectation that you could cut through with a knife. The time was racing on toward 7:30, opening time, and the crowd was gathering in the foyer of Mr Kyps, Paul rushes through at the last moment: "I'm late" he calls out to the waiting crowd, the four of us move aside to allow the deckmeister through. Seconds later the door swings open, Kyp himself greets the awaiting throng ready to take receipt of cash or prepurchased tickets . We charge into the dark atmosphere of the south coast's greatest live music venue and, noticing only two young ladies behind the bar, we realise that tonight could be a little on the quiet side.

WRONG! Although the attendance wasn't what it could have been the hundred or so crowd were in for a real treat. Those of you who were disappointed in Walter Trout need look no further than Sinnerboy to get real value for your hard earned readies. Two hours forty five minutes of sheer brilliance. I'm no Rory Gallagher fan but these guys made me want to go out and find out what I've been missing. The play list was driven along by fevered requests from the crowd and as the evening wore on air guitarists forced their way to the front of the stage and the duelling began in earnest with the Sinnerboy front man nearly being upstaged once or twice by Rory aficionados.

In all seriousness, Sinnerboy are an extremely tight outfit worthy of far larger crowds than were at Mr Kyps that night. Those that were there were treated to an evening of high quality musical virtuosity. Having been to both gigs (Walter and Sinnerboy) last week I know where my money will be going next time. KEEP ON ROCKIN' SINNERBOY

Trev Faulkner

Sinnerboy - Rory Gallagher Tribute
Brethren of the blues. Whatever you were doing to miss this gig will weigh heavily upon your souls forever. Yep, you also missed spending the best £6 of your life. And if you're one of those "Oh, I don't go and see tribute bands" snobs, then you better read 'em and weap. Think I'll have a word with Kyp, maybe if he charged £12 it'd make a difference. Cheap only means crap when it's made in Taiwan, bro. No, you didn't get the long, Rory hair, the check shirt, or the jeans, but if you closed your eyes you would've believed the man was there...these boys ROCKED! And they enjoyed every minute, and rather than stick to a chosen set, after the first 3 songs, the crowd called out and they played 'em; such confidence.

Laundromat, In Your Town, What's Going On?, A Million Miles Away, Moonchild, and Shadow Play are just a few gems, plus an all-too-short acoustic set where tribute Rory made you weep. Every song was delivered with every string-bend, pinched harmonic and note exactly where it should be, plus that characteristic Gallagher upsweep over the DA & E strings - delivery of the utmost perfection. The adreniline pumped, the spine tingled, and you couldn't believe life was this good. Whether the 150 or so audience was low due to work the next day, I don't know? But if a local band like Jak the Lad can fill the place on a Saturday, maybe Sinnerboy should be booked for a different day next time?

Even we were on borrowed time. Wife, Jane, had an early shift next morning. "We MUST leave at ten!" she told me. At quarter to eleven I had to prize her from the seat; enjoying it more than she ever believed she would. Kyp smiled when I told him, "The best band I've seen here yet!" And when they do return, (I'm an optimist), you really should be there, and after the show you will agree how right I am about this great band. Trivia time: First watched Rory with Taste when they supported Cream at their farewell concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 1968. Within the set, they played a cracking instrumental of Gershwin's 'Summertime,' wonder if Sinnerboy know that one?

Alan Burridge

High Cross Inn, Sat 10 July 2004

The High Cross Inn is a beautiful place, nestling in an idyllic location with breathtaking views from every window but tonight, when SINNERBOY took the stage, no-one was looking at the scenery as the band shook the Inn to its foundations with a mix of hard-driving rock and mind-bending blues.

Steve Richardsn, with his precision drumming laid down a groove so deep that I could have happily remained trapped there for days. His drumming technique, whilst as powerful as I have heard, remains exceptionally musical and he complements perfectly the nuances of every song.

Dave Burns is a bass guitarist of immense musical talent – I almost pity the guitarist who plays alongside him. Play what you believe to be, say, Abadd9 and Dave is likely to tell you that it sounded more like Ab13. He is an enviable musician whose playing, like Steve’s, is oh so melodic. The range of sounds and moods he squeezed out of his Fender found me longing to hear a bass solo.

Together, Steve and Dave lay down a rhythm as tight as the proverbial duck’s bum, and a most remarkable feature of the band is their interplay and empathy.

Barry Barnes (guitar/vocals) is the consummate professional and, playing his gorgeous “61 Relic” Strat through a Cornford MK50 valve amp, he could rip off your head at 100 paces. The Cornford demands ultra-clean playing and it bowed in admiration as Barry played some of the most blistering solos with each and every note ringing clear and precise. It isn’t easy being a frontman, particularly when you have to sing and play with no rhythm guitarist for back-up, but Barry was born for the job and makes it seem easy.

There was no pre-arranged Set List - the audience were asked to shout out their favourite songs and the band happily obliged - a most heart-warming and endearing gesture - and a test of true musicianship.

Barry gave a guitar masterclass; his solos were never less than hypnotic and, like Rory’s, were always in complete empathy with the song, be it a head-banging rocker or sweet, soulful blues. Someone requested “I Fall Apart” and, boy, was I glad - I closed my eyes as I drifted off to the music - it was the early 70’s; the Free Trade Hall, Manchester; listening with spine-tingling excitement to Rory Gallagher and his Band - I opened my eyes to see not Rory but Sinnerboy - am I hallucinating? - I’ve drank one pint of Guinness, nothing more - no, the drug was Sinnerboy’s music - more powerful than anything you can buy on the back streets, and all perfectly legal - try it - but I warn you, you’ll be hooked. Barry picked up a mandolin and tore into “Going to my Home Town”, which saw the audience automatically join in to the mesmeric beat: clap-clap / clap-clap-clap, so simple yet so inspired. “In Your Town” paid homage to the Cumbrian locality, and Barry picked off harmonics at will from the length and breadth of the fretboard. There must be something wrong with my own guitar - it wouldn’t recognise half of the notes that are on Barry’s guitar - when I get home, I must remember to smash it against the wall.

“A Million Miles Away” was played with such soul and passion that I had to bite my lip to chase back the tears - was that Rory’s smiling face I saw in the crowd? - did I see him give Barry the thumbs-up? - did I really see him slip into Barry’s body to share guitar duties?

The audience were on their feet, dancing, clapping, cheering. Even the Landlord couldn’t control himself any longer, and he joined the others on the dance floor and pleaded for more. You could hear the band’s thoughts: we’ve only been playing for 3 hours, the night (no, early morning) is yet young, let’s do a few more numbers. Even if they’d wanted to stop, the Landlord isn’t going to let them as he, along with the crowd, pleads for more….and more.

Sinnerboy eventually finished in true Rory style with “Shadow Play” and “Bullfrog Blues” - the Landlord had better get a full structural survey after tonight - the foundations surely can’t take such a pounding. The band left the stage to tumultuous applause and, dripping with sweat, they immediately joined the audience for a drink and a chat, with no sign whatever of egotism.

One thing is certain - Sinnerboy truly do embody the spirit of Rory Gallagher and, whilst giving their all to an enviable following, they remain three of the nicest guys anyone could ever wish to meet.

The audience had travelled many miles tonight to watch Sinnerboy play - was it worth the journey? - you bet it was!!!! Everyone left the High Cross Inn exhilarated, exhausted, happy, smiling, the music still ringing in their ears. New friendships were formed; old friendships were cemented.

As for myself, it’s now three days after the gig and you couldn’t scrub the grin off my face with a wire brush - I think it’s permanent. My recommendation for true happiness in life?… don’t need no doctor, you don’t need no pills……just take my advice and check out Sinnerboy next time they hit your town. You will not be disappointed. Miss them at your peril.

Gordon Morris

Dublin (JJ Smyths) June 2004

Dublin had been waiting for Sinnerboy for too long and when they arrived they did not disappoint! Dave, Steve and Barry churned out request after request for an audience that had been starved of live Rory for the past 9 years. Some songs they played note perfect to the original studio and live recordings, others allowing the band to stretch out and improvise in their own way.
Highlight of the evening was when the management decided to pull the band off with 20 minutes to go claiming a problem with the plumbing! Undaunted and in true Rory style guitarist Barry Barnes urged the crowd outside on to the pavement where he produced a National Steel guitar and a mandolin and had the streets of Dublin rocking! Well done Sinnerboy, Rory will be smiling somewhere!

Liam Hill


Almost 10 years to the day since Rory Gallagher, one of the finest blues/rock guitarists sadly passed away, I found myself with some friends at The Brook to watch SINNERBOY, a tribute band to him. What can I say? What a show!
Opening with the blistering “Shinkicker” the band played a blinder.
And as Barry Barnes, lead singer and guitarist put it, he would rather that they weren’t there as a tribute and that Rory was still here, but this was the next best thing.
It takes a big man to fill Rory’s shoes and Barry was up to the challenge.
Ably backed by Dave Burns on bass and drummer Steve Richardson, they played a well-paced set for two and a half hours mixing acoustic blues like “Western Plain” with up tempo rock/blues like “Bought and Sold.” A fine rendition of “Walk On Hot Coals” took the enthusiastic crowd back to the Irish Tour ’74 LP.
“Wayward Child,” one of my favourites was superb, and when they played “Sinnerboy” from the days when Rory was with Taste, the crowd were asked to shout out song titles for the band to play, making for a really good atmosphere and a bit of friendly banter between the band and the audience. Closing the set with the rocking “Shadowplay” and finishing with “Bullfrog Blues” everyone went home very happy and asking when they would be back!
One favour from me, can they play ”Last of the Independents” for me?
Thanks for a great show.

Ian Hill

Sinnerboy - The Brook, Southampton

THIS tribute to the late Rory Gallagher produced an electric atmosphere at a bulging Brook, from the shattering Shinkicker to the belligerent Bullfrog Blues.
As the two guys either side of me, who had both seen Rory live, put it: "This is the next best thing to seeing Rory himself."
Well, you won't see that again -more's the pity - but this stunning trio led by the affable Barry Barnes is one of the best tribute bands I've seen and I'm sure the rocking Rory would have approved.
Barry worked his socks off, using a total of six guitars to reproduce the best of Rory, belting out songs like Walk On Hot Coals, Wayward Child and, of course, Sinnerboy with gusto, aided by Dave Burns on bass and Steve Richardson on drums.
Barry was simply amazing on both acoustic and electric guitars as he reproduced those bluesy, rocky anthems, and the crowd response was ecstatic.

Simply exhilarating!

Peter Ashton

Sinnerboy @ Silkstone Lodge Barnsley
Yorkshire Rory Gallagher fans were treated to a rare outing by Sinnerboy, led by the organiser of The UK’s Rory Gallagher Festival, Barry Barnes. This very lively band really meant business as they kicked off with Shinkicker.The look on Barry’s face was a picture; he was going for gold as he hit those strings! A request for Continental Op was granted and superbly played. The intro even had the tone-pot wah sound so typical of Rory’s special effects technique! (Rapid turning of the guitar tone control from bass to treble). An Irish Tour 74 track was next up. The guitar tone on the rhythm of Walk On Hot Coals was as authentic as could be. The bass and percussion really lifted the song too. With volume swells and damped rhythm rakes this brilliant old song was fantastic. Keeping in the same era came Million Miles Away a song played so right, we could have been back in Ireland in ’74.Close your eyes and you’re there. The intro had the harmonics and the voice was so authentic. That intro is so special.
The band continued with Moonchild with the same enthusiasm and so in your face. Following with Too Much Alcohol, with the superb rhythm section doing a great job with this 12 bar blues. The set was slowed down significantly as the band played I Fall Apart. This lovely song is one of my Rory favourites and was well played with its distinctive rhythm guitar. Livening things up before the interval came Laundromat a great riff laden rocker. What a great riff this is too. During the break was an audience interrogation by Barry as to who was a Rory fan and if they were enjoying the concert…we were… on both counts!
As the band reassembled as Sinnerboy, they played Sinnerboy! With a capo at the F sharp position on his white Telecaster, Barry played some great slide themes. Back to Irish Tour ’74 and another riff –heavy song, Cradle Rock had everyone’s head shaking and feet tapping. Then changing to a mandolin with a truly beautiful tone Barry sang and played Going To My Hometown. With great vocals and subtle offerings from the rhythm section, this song was one of the highlights in the set. There were many highlights in this set however. The brilliant Used To Be with pseudo Beatles riffs, The Last of the Independents with the ultra hardworking rhythm section and a special version of Bad Penny were a treat to listen to. The band were receptive to requests from the very appreciative audience so a great version of Shadowplay was well received. By this time last orders at the bar was well in the past but an encore of Bullfrog Blues sent everybody home with a very broad smile on their faces. What a great set from this superb band.

Steve Lally

Dukinfield Town Hall 17th May 2003:
What a gig! this has been my fifth visit to Dukinfield and I am annually amazed that the show gets better every time! There was a hiccup with the power supply that kept the music off for 15 minutes and Barry told me after the gig that he did not have time to do the grand finale - he had something very special up his sleeve which we never got to hear! How good would it have been then?

Raw Gallagher opened up the show with some excellent guitar work from Steve White especially on a fine version of 'A Million Miles Away'. Next up were The Tony Dowler Band, these guys (Tony, Dave & Steve) really make the Town Hall rock each year and tore into 'Shinkicker' with a vengeance - great stuff! Barry then brought to the stage 'The Loop' a great band from Germany that he has been trying to bring over for some time, superb renditions of 'Overnight Bag' and their signature tune 'The Loop' were the highlights.

Then at 10.45 the evening just shifted up another gear - 'Sinnerboy' hit the stage like a tornado, Dave Burns on bass and Steve Richardson on drums were in the best form I have heard them yet, pounding out note perfect rockers like 'Cradle Rock' & 'Moonchild' before reducing some of the audience to tears with 'I fall Apart' I was told by a reliable source that Tom O'Driscol - Rory's Road Manager, Phil McDonnel - Rory's front of house sound man, and 'Spooner' who looked after the great man's guitars just gaped at eachother and could not believe how close this band have got to the raw energy of Rory Gallagher, they were spooked! The band even handled the power faliure in a Rory-esque manner by carrying on at exactly the same note in 'Used to Be' that they were playing when the fuse blew! The day was saved by an electrician from Dublin who sorted out the problem. Jan (piano) from The Loop then guested with Sinnerboy on a spine tingling rendition of 'Going to my Hometown' with Barry in sparkling form on a new mandolin and Dave and Steve aptly supplying the 'Boom Boom Boom'! A minutes silence and then Bullfrog Blues with all the players of the night swapping blistering solos brought the evening to a close. Five hours which passed like five minutes. Roll on 2004!

Nick Fisher

"I've seen and enjoyed Rory Gallagher tribute bands throughout Europe, all with their own type of Rory magic, but the last performance in December given by Sinnerboy was pure awesome. For sure the spirit of Rory was with Barry at the Stagshead and everyone including the band felt it. Without a doubt Sinnerboy have really got The Taste for Rory" -

Phil Hoolahan

"After very favourable advance reports from the likes of Tony Moore , Angela Shaw etc I went with great anticipation to see SINNERBOY perform at Kings Bar in Waterford on December 11th last. A good-sized crowd turned out to welcome the band to this opening gig of their first Irish Tour.They weren't to be disappointed - SINNERBOY have hit the scene with a bang!

Barry opened by paying tribute " to the nicest guy who ever strapped on a Strat" and then SINNERBOY launched into "Cradle Rock". These guys play Rory's music with a raw energy and infectious enthusiasm so reminiscent of the man himself and the audience loved it. .From "Tattoo'd Lady, Laundromat, Walk on hot Coals" and many other favourites to a sensitive and soulful rendition of "I fall apart" they put on a riveting performance.

At the interval while Steve and Dave took a break Barry entertained the crowd with some great acoustic work. Then back to three piece format for a second half with particularly memorable versions of "A million miles away" and the bands own poignant anthem "Sinnerboy".The encores ended with a blistering "Bullfrog Blues" to full-throated audience participation.

This band is clearly in the premier division with Barry's powerful vocals and soaring guitar laid on the solid foundation of an ultra-tight rhythm section of Steve and Dave.At the end of the show seasoned Gallagher veterans and new fans alike were agreed - a brilliant nights music, a great band!
Roll on SINNERBOY!! "

Rory O'Mahoney

Thank you guys from Lee Delta Blues - We kept the best wine until the last. All the best from LDBC Signed Christy. "Come back guys - Please!

How does one start? Great gig - Enjoyed all the people and great to meet new friends in music - Please come back! Gee "The Bass" Hogan.
Rory's music is always number one here in Cork, so you're always Number one with the Lee Delta Blues Club. John

I love Rory too! Got hit on the head by a jug - nevermind! See ya! Thanks.
John Harrington

This message was written by the poor soul who was sitting under a shelf full of ornaments at P A Johnson's bar in Cork City. Unfortunately for him Sinnerboy were playing and not some nice quiet Irish Folk Band. During a particularly robust rendition of 'Shinkicker' we managed to vibrate a dirty great jug off the shelf which landed plum on this unfortunate's head! If you are he, get in touch and tell me your name. Everybody else in Cork look out for him (Just look for the lump!)
Reviews of Barry's solo album 'Rory'
By Grahame Rhodes of 'Blues in the Northwest' (Before the new Sinnerboy)

For the last ten years, Barry Barnes has led the excellent Sinnerboy, one of the premier Rory Gallagher tribute bands, who have toured extensively around Europe, Scandinavia and the USA. However the band is to split next year and he will be concentrating on a solo career, and therefore comes his first solo cd “Rory!” – a heartfelt collection of both some of the great man’s songs and some of the country blues tunes he used to cover, from the likes of Blind Boy Fuller, Leadbelly and Son House.
Barnes got the Rory bug seeing him live for the first time in 1969, and was a major fan after that, and he was already a country blues fan from listening to his brother’s vinyl collection, here he pays homage to his favourite guitar player of all time, and a fine job he has done too – the tracks recorded in a variety of locations as far apart as Dublin, Athens and Yorkshire!
Eight of the tracks were laid down at Reaction Studios in Athens, including an acoustic take on the superb “Moonchild”; the very old song, “The Cuckoo”, and a slide work out on Son House’s immortal “Death Letter Blues”. A highlight from the Greek recordings is a beautiful version of “I Fall Apart”, a Gallagher song from way back on his debut solo album in 1971, and delivered with skill and passion here by Barry Barnes.
A rowdy Dublin crowd in the Temple Bar Music Centre are enthusiastic on the opening “Pistol Slapper Blues” by Blind Boy Fuller, famously recorded on the “Live In Europe” album, and a fine “Out On The Western Plain” – the Leadbelly song that used to feature in Rory Gallagher’s acoustic interludes. Paul Westwell helps out on harmonica on Big Bill Broonzy’s “Nothin’ But The Devil”, recorded at Calder Studios in Yorkshire, as was the rousing “Barley And Grape Rag” . . . featuring some sweet violin from Tracy Smith, with Dave Burns (double bass) and Ozzer McLoughlin (drums).
As a Rory ‘nut’ myself I thoroughly enjoyed this album . . . . great singing and playing, but with fun as well – check out the unlisted closer!) – nice one Barry . . . and more power to him for keeping the memory of the legendary Rory Gallagher alive!

Grahame Rhodes

By Adrian Blacklea of 'Blues Matters'

This album is dedicated to the artist’s favourite guitarist, namely Rory Gallagher; while there are several original Rory songs here, the majority are blues covers of songs that would have certainly influenced Rory in his formative years, by the likes of Leadbelly and Big Bill Broonzy.
All the material is acoustic based & while I was originally sceptical that this would work, I have to admit that everything sits together very well and Barry Barnes has produced an engaging Acoustic blues album that delivers far more than just being a “Rory Gallagher” Tribute.

Besides two live tracks recorded at the temple Bar Centre in Limerick, the remainder are studio based recordings, the majority recorded in a studio in Athens, not normally known as a hot bed for the blues but the recordings are faultless.

I am not qualified to comment on Barry’s technical playing or the likeness to Rory’s playing but what I can comment on is that this album is full of great blues material that is played expertly; it is an enjoyable way to spend 60 minutes of your time.

Barry demonstrates his love for the blues throughout and he adds some welcome humour on the live tracks, particularly Leadbelly’s ‘On the Western Plain’, of the original tracks, all unknown to me, I would pick ‘Moonchild’ as the highlight, which has an emotive vocal delivery.

You do not have to be a Rory Gallagher fan to enjoy this album!

Adrian Blacklea
Reviews of Barry's solo performances
“Barry Barnes was one of the highlights of the 2010 Blackstairs Blues Festival, playing 3 amazing gigs over the weekend. His act features the music of Rory Gallagher but it is much more, he communicates directly with an audience both with his voice and guitar but also with his open, friendly and funny personality. 2010 was one of our best overall festivals but Barry has been a constant feature of the positive feedback we have had, a class act.”

Eamonn Doyle (Blackstairs Blues Festival, Enniscorthy Ireland)
The music of Rory Gallagher will be celebrated when Sinnerboy play the
Róisín Dubh on Saturday, February 27. The show is also part of the
band's farewell tour, but front man Barry Barnes plans to keep on
playing Gallagher's music.

"I've got a solo tour of Holland and a solo tour of Greece coming up,"he
says. "It is, of course, still Rory. And I will get another band
together soon!

Barry organised his first Rory Gallagher tribute show in 1996, one year
after the bluesman's death. It took place in Manchester, where Barnes is
based. What began as an informal celebration eventually led to Barnes
taking Gallagher's music on the road.

"That concert was at a local pub in Manchester, very low-key," he
recalls. "Just a lot of my pals, jamming with my band. The place was
full, it was packed and I had a lovely time. Then in the morning my wife
said when I came down 'you'd better listen to this'. She pressed the
button on the answer phone and a voice said 'hello, my name is Donal
Gallagher. I'm looking for Barry Barnes because I've heard he did a
tribute to my brother. Get in touch'. So I got in touch with Donal and
we've been friends ever since."

Like any true Rory Gallagher fan, Barnes can pinpoint the exact year he
first the Ballyshannon born legend play.

"1969 --yes I am old!" he laughs. "I was 17 and it was at the Free Trade
Hall in Manchester. I walked in and I was really disappointed because
I'd seen Jimi Hendrix and I'd seen Cream, and they all used this great
big wall of Marshall amplifiers.

"All I saw was this was tiny Vox amplifier on a kitchen chair. And a
tiny drum kit and a tiny bass amp, and I thought 'I don't think I'm
going to like this, this is going to be a bit light for me'.

"Anyway," Barry continues. "Rory walks in, plugs his Stratocaster into
the Vox -- and, well, it changed my life really. It was magnificent,
absolutely magnificent, and I've been a total fan ever since. My hero."
Rory Gallagher never attained the level of superstardom that many felt
was his due. Guns N Roses guitarist Slash has spoken of his admiration
for Gallagher, as has U2's The Edge, but he never sold the volumes that
his admirers have.

"I was watching a Wim Wenders film the other day about all the guitar
players that brought the blues back to America, like Eric Clapton and
Jeff Beck," says Barry. "And these things never mention Rory. If you
asked any of those guys, in their heart of hearts, who they look up to
and they'd say Rory and Jimi [Hendrix].

"However, I've stopped being angry about it because Rory himself didn't
want it," he adds. "He actively turned down stardom. He was very in
touch with the blues, really faithful to the blues and he didn't really
want it. So I can't get too angry about it."

Last year, Sinnerboy's bass player and drummer decided that
their next tour with Sinnerboy will be their last. Barry will continue
to play Gallagher's music as a solo act, but understands why the lads
are leaving.

"We are the biggest Rory Gallagher tribute in the world but we can't
make a good living at it," he says. "If we were a Rolling Stones tribute
band, or a Queen band, people would flock to our gigs. But it's very
difficult to find enough Rory fans. It's sad, but it's because he was so

Milo Carr 2011

They may not have been the very first band to pay homage to Irish legend Rory Gallagher, and they certainly won’t be the last, but Barry Barnes and Sinnerboy are regarded by many of the Gallagher faithful to be the ultimate in tribute bands. Rory’s brother and longtime manager, Donal Gallagher has called them his “favorite boy band”, and considers them “the definitive Rory Gallagher outfit.” One of the few bands that play all Rory all the time, they were Donal’s choice to play the first London tribute to Rory Gallagher at the Irish Arts Centre in Hammersmith in 2003.

For Barry Barnes, the singer, guitarist and driving force for Sinnerboy, it is all about keeping the memory of the late, great Irish legend alive. He first saw Rory Gallagher live with his band Taste in 1969 and has been a fan ever since. “Rory walks in, plugs his Stratocaster into the Vox — and, well, it changed my life really. It was magnificent, absolutely magnificent, and I’ve been a total fan ever since.”

After Rory’s death in 1995, Barry resolved to keep the Irishman’s memory alive by playing his music wherever and whenever he could. His band has played all over the world, and his annual tribute show in England is the longest running Rory Gallagher tribute festival in the world. Recently I had a chance to ask Barry about his life on the road, and his unceasing promotion of Rory’s music.

‘Take That Sinner Boy Home’

Shadowplays: Barry, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule for this interview. You’ve recently reformed the band. How’s the new line-up coming along?


Barry Barnes: My pleasure! The band’s coming on really well, we’ve been doing a full day each week at Nick’s place in Wales. We’re going out to Ireland the week before the first gig and staying at a friend’s empty house in Co. Donegal where we’re going to set the gear up and rehearse solidly to really tighten things up.

Shadowplays: I understand Nick Skelson is on bass and Jon Clayton on drums. They were both members of “Nunz with Gunz”. Has “Nunz” disbanded then? Or are the boys double dipping?

Barry Barnes: Well the boys seem to have suspended all activity with ‘Nunz’ at the moment, but that’s not to say the band’s defunct – I’ll have to ask them!

Shadowplays: With the new rhythm section, has Sinnerboy’s sound changed a bit? Jon’s old band, Brutal Deluxe, was a heavy, heavy metal band. Will Sinnerboy have a heavier sound? A “Top Priority” Rory sound?

Barry Barnes: Yeah I think that’s bound to happen with a drummer like Jonny but Sinnerboy has always had a ‘heavier’ edge whoever was playing with me which is probably because I’m a bit of a rocker myself at heart. I do have to pull Jonny back from his double bass drum pedals though!!

Shadowplays: Speaking of lineup changes, One of the topics of discussion in any Rory fan group is what everyone’s favorite Rory lineup is. Obviously any lineup with Rory is good, but what’s your favorite lineup and why?

Barry Barnes: That’s a tough one, each lineup produced it’s own magical moments but I have a soft spot for the Ted McKenna era, the memories of Rory running onto the stage, plugging in and belting out ‘Shinkicker’ are really strong. I think as far as creativity in Rory’s playing goes the 75-78 period always leaves me gob-smacked!

Shadowplays: Sinnerboy has also undergone several lineup changes. You, Steve Richardson and Dave Burns were the original lineup? When did Steve Tansley come on board?

Barry Barnes: About 2005/6 he was a friend of Daves’ already so a natural replacement when Steve Richardson left.

Shadowplays: Barry, the splitting up of Sinnerboy took us by surprise. Did you see it coming? Steve and Dave have joined up with Tony Dowler. Steve was with Tony Dowler before, wasn’t he? Back in the old Bill Baileys days?

Barry Barnes: Yeah it took me by surprise too! I was heartbroken at first because I thought I may have to stop – Finding a replacement for one musician would be hard enough but both at once? It was a real body blow, but fortunately for me Nick and Jonny saved the day and now all I can think of is the future, and how lucky I am to be able to keep going onwards and upwards!

Shadowplays: Was the split mainly a financial decision? I imagine it’s hard to make a living as a tribute band, particularly a Rory Gallagher tribute band home based in England. Much easier as a Cream, Zep, or Hendrix tribute band, don’t you think?

Barry Barnes: I don’t really know what motivated their decision, but what you say is very true – lots of miles, lots of discomfort, lots of time away from loved ones and for very little financial reward – I see the tribute bands to the more populist groups making really good livings but I don’t envy them – I’ve got the best job!

Shadowplays: Do members of most tribute bands have day jobs? Or play in other bands? Do you have a second career as well? I saw something about Barry Barnes Photography.

Barry Barnes: I was a still life and fashion photographer for 35 years and enjoyed that career but Rory’s death really shook me and I wanted desperately to keep him in people’s minds, you could say Rory’s passing galvanized me into changing EVERYTHING!

My Rory Career is all I do now – I play grueling solo tours too, hours and hours on the road on my own, setting up equipment, and sleeping where I can. It’s a tough life especially when you’ve driven hundreds of miles to a gig, then set up and sound-checked, sometimes all I want to do is go to bed but then the Rory fans arrive and I’m in my own little heaven!

shadowplays: So why Rory, Barry? Why put in all the long hours and hard work and little pay to play the music of a man that most have forgotten?

Barry Barnes: Good question! But easily answered, it’s not to do with hardship, or finances or anything more than I absolutely adore what I do and I absolutely adore Rory and his music! – when I look at the pleasure on the audiences faces as they remember Rory always thrills me – It’s all worth it!

shadowplays: I first started doing the Shadowplays website because I just couldn’t believe how many had forgotten Rory. I just wanted to smack them upside the head and say, “How could you forget this?” And then there was the media and supposed “blues experts” who would parade out your usual suspects: Clapton, Page, Beck, etc. when talking about the Blues Revival, but never a word about Rory. Did it grate on your nerves as much as mine?

Barry Barnes: Ha! Now you’re talking my language Milo! It makes me so angry! I picked up a guitar magazine at Nick’s from 2008 – it said on the cover ‘Top ten greats of slide guitar’ you can guess the rest of the story! Of course the players mentioned were all great players indeed – and I was very pleased to see Tampa Red come out on top but an article in a respected guitar magazine entitled top ten greats of slide guitar with no mention of Rory Gallagher? Come on guys!

Shadowplays: Rory’s old sound engineer, Robin Sylvester, talked about how great that slide was, how it could make paint blister! At the end of “Crest of a Wave” you can just make out Robin remarking, “flawless”! And don’t get me started on Guitarist Magazine! A while back they did the top 50 greatest guitar tones of all time. Rory checked in at 31. 31!! Slash was in the top ten for crying out loud! How are the young folk suppose to find Rory if the media and musos don’t name check him?

Barry Barnes: It always surprises me when they do – it’s mostly down to listening to their parents bringing them up on Rory.

Shadowplays: So let’s talk about how YOU first found out about Rory. You first saw Rory and Taste at the Manchester Free Trade in ’69. How did you hear of Taste? Through your brother? Isn’t he a big blues fan?

Barry Barnes: I wanted to buy the album everybody was talking about, it was the debut album by Led Zeppelin, You couldn’t buy records like that in many shops in those days, in Manchester you could buy them at ‘Rare Records’ a shop in the city centre. So with my hard saved 15 shillings (about 1 Euro) I walked into the store – and they didn’t have the record! As a 17 year old 15 shillings was hard to come by so I spent it on an album because I liked the cover – it was ‘On the Boards’ and is now the album which if I was given the choice of ONE record only to listen to forever, it’s that one! Later that year I went to see taste play the Free Trade Hall – I was disappointed when I walked in that he didn’t play with great big amplifiers, Just a small Vox on a kitchen chair – but my disappointment went when he plugged in – and my life changed big time!

It was my brother who first got me into the blues – I love him for that!

Shadowplays: How many times did you get to see Rory? Did you ever meet him?

Barry Barnes: I saw him 20 times which I thought was a lot until I started meeting people on our tours that have seen him hundreds of times! No, sadly I never met the man, I was too shy!

Shadowplays: When did you first pick up the guitar? What kind of bands were you in? When did you form Sinnerboy?

Barry Barnes in his youth

Barry Barnes: My dad bought me a guitar for my 16th Birthday – a Watkins Rapier 33 – I loved that guitar, I used to play in local rock bands playing the music of the day, Hendrix, Cream, Purple, Free etc, and of course I’ve always played the music of my hero! I formed Sinnerboy in 2000 (One of my better decisions!)

Shadowplays: You played your first tribute to the man, at the Pomona in Gorton, Manchester in 1996, a year after Rory’s death. So this wasn’t Sinnerboy’s first gig? Who played?

Barry Barnes: No, Sinnerboy was four years away then – I played with my band ‘Fat Cat Bobby’ with my friend Paul Westwell on harmonica who still jams with Sinnerboy occasionally, the rest of the people that played were other guys from local bands who I bullied into coming along and playing for free – we were just jamming Rory really, but it was great!

Shadowplays: I understand Rory’s brother Donal heard about it and left a message for you to get in touch. Do you remember what you and Donal talked about?

Barry Barnes: Not really, I was so shocked that Rory Gallagher’s Brother had phoned me I think I just talked total bollocks!

Shadowplays: This started a long line of English Tributes to Rory Gallagher, mostly at the Dukinfield Town Hall but also at the “Boardwalk” in Sheffield and at Hammersmith among others. Who was involved in organizing these tributes, and how supportive was Donal?

Barry Barnes: Help has come and gone at the tributes but I’ve always been supported by two mighty men – I’ve already mentioned Paul Westwell, who has always been there, (and who built the famous giant Strat) and then there has always been Dave Warner, a lovely man and a tireless campaigner for Rory! Donal has always been hugely supportive and has helped in numerous ways over the years, he’s a great guy and a great support.

Shadowplays: The second tribute was at the Flint St. Social Club, I think, followed by several years at Dukinfield Town Hall, then to the Boardwalk in Sheffield in 2004, then back to Dukinfield. Have I got the chronology right?

Barry Barnes: You’re spot on with the chronology, Milo, but you’ve missed out the last three years – ‘The World Famous Cavern Club’ in Liverpool!

Cavern Club Promo

Shadowplays: Yes, the Cavern Club! You moved the tribute there in ’08. This year’s tribute at the Cavern Club is coming up this Saturday. Have you gotten your mod clothes ready or will you be going tarten? Along with your band,Sinnerboy, this year’s tribute at the Cavern will also have Against the Grain from Scotland and Top Priority, a tribute band from Liverpool. What about the early days, Barry. Back in the late ’90′s, during the first few tribute gigs at the Dukinfield Town Hall, what other bands joined you on stage?

Barry Barnes: ‘The Jed Thomas Band’ was a big part of it then, Jed and the same boys are still treading the boards too – lovely guys and great musicians, then there was my special friends from Germany ‘Brute Force and Ignorance, Dave McHugh and Aftertaste, The Bill Baileys, and I used to put bands together out of all the local musicians to play special Rory songs, one year we did the ‘Rory Gallagher Big Band’ – Me, Paul (Harmonica) Paul Minshull (Piano) Denis Brennen and Frantzl Gerd-Albers (Drums) John Berry (Bass) Sara Nadin and Graham Attwood (Horns) John Brett and Steve Ernshaw (Guitars) and Chris Waite on vocals – we filled the stage that night, two drum kits too!!

Shadowplays: I imagine you’ve seen your fair share of Rory tribute bands come and go over the years. Not many have flied the Rory flag as many years as you though. Who stands out in your mind as both friend and supporter of the cause? When you first started playing the tributes, who was there before you and who remains there still?

Barry Barnes: Markus Kerkeling and his band ‘Brute Force and Ignorance’ from Germany were the band that convinced me that it could be done! That you really could play Rory authentically and not just interpret the songs your way. Up until that time there was only Jed and Dave McHugh who I knew were playing Rory and they also were really great at it but for me Brute Force were the band to take notice of, and what does it tell you when I say that all those guys, Jed, Dave and Markus are still at it, lots of other Rory bands have come and gone but the original guys are still there – and still fantastic!

Shadowplays: It tells me that Rory could instill a fierce loyalty in his fans. That some may use his music as a stepping stone to further their own careers, but others play his material out of sheer love of the man and his music. What are your fondest memories of the Dukinfield shows?

Barry Barnes: Always the big audiences – and the smiles on their faces!

Shadowplays: Sinnerboy also makes the trek to the festivals in Ireland — Ballyshannon, Belfast, Cork. Did you play any of the gigs Tony Moore would organize around Cork back in the early days? Any idea what Tony is up to nowadays?

Barry Barnes: Oh yeah we’d all cram into a little bar in Co. Cork called ‘The Meeting Place’ it was tiny and there seemed to be hundreds of us there! But we all got in and supported each other, it was great! Tony is not as up front on the Rory scene now – he played the biggest part of all in getting us all together, just about the most influential man on the Rory Tribute scene! He now plays his guitar in an Irish traditional band – I must ring him soon and catch up!

Shadowplays: The big draw now is in Ballyshannon. Barry O’Neill has turned that festival into a huge to do. Has some of the Rory-ness been lost on the way though? I read stories about some of the younger crowd casting a bit of a dark cloud over the proceedings. Or is it just the normal headaches associated with the bigger crowds?

Barry Barnes: Absolutely – it’s the same at all festivals, it does attract some kids who are not really interested in the music but that does not detract from the festival itself – and in no way has it lost ANY of how you put it ‘Rory-ness’ on the contrary, as with Tony Moore before him Barry picked up the baton in Ireland and has created a unique event in honour of Rory, I cannot praise him and his team enough for what they have done in Rory’s memory.

Shadowplays: It’s important for the youth to be involved in it, not just us old geezers. Rory’s music needs to stay fresh, don’t you think?

Barry Barnes: That’s one of my favourite things that has happened – there are lots of young bands that have got together not because they saw Rory, because they were too young, but because they saw Sinnerboy! How proud do you think I am of that?

Shadowplays: Did you play with former mates, Steve and Dave at Ballyshannon this year, as a final encore? Tony Dowler played too, didn’t he?

Barry Barnes: Yeah we played three great gigs – a real fitting ending to our partnership. They played some gigs with Tony too, The Hellhounds are a great band!

Shadowplays: With the dissolution of Sinnerboy, you started doing more solo acoustic shows to fill the Rory void, or had you always scheduled in a lot of solo acoustic work?

Barry Barnes: It was way before the dissolution of Sinnerboy, Milo – the old guys didn’t want to play so many gigs with me and I had to do something to keep paying the rent and it was either learn how to do it solo or….GET A JOB! (Horror) I love it now!

Shadowplays: Last October you came out with an acoustic album simply titled, “Rory”. Well that says it all, doesn’t it? Tell us about the album. How long was it in the making? Who guested? Where was it recorded?

Barry Barnes solo album

Barry Barnes: Mostly in Athens, plus two live tracks from Dublin and two studio tracks in England (and woof woof in Limerick!) It took longer than it should to mix because the studio in Athens had to close down after I recorded it, but I’m happy with the end result, My great friend Manos Kampouris plays some stunning guitar on it and I’m joined by Paul Westwell on a couple of tracks and Tracy Smith, O.B Mclaughlin and Dave Burns help out on ‘Barley and Grape Rag’ I’m really proud of the album (Available from Unashamed plug there!

Shadowplays: A well deserved plug! Interesting that many of the tracks were done in Athens. Greece has a surprisingly large number of Rory Gallagher fans. Rory only ever did two shows there, yet they occupy a huge slice of the demographics on the official Rory Gallagher Facebook page. About one fourth of all RG Facebook fans are from Greece. In fact, the city of Athens alone has more RG Facebook followers than any other country. Sounds like a country with excellent musical “Taste”. How do they treat you over there?

Barry Barnes: What? Greece is my second home! I love the Greek people, It’s my favourite place in the world! I have many, many friends there and get there as often as I can, I’ve even got a Greek version of Sinnerboy! Manos Koutsakis and Manos Deloitis play with me on Drums and bass there – and I’ll be back next year!

Shadowplays: Well, I had a feeling Sinnerboy would go over well there. Your solo album is a mixture of Rory covers and Rory-covered Blues standards. I think the only blues song on the album not performed at one time or another by Rory is Son House’s “Death Letter Blues”. Why Death Letter Blues?

Barry Barnes: Because it goes to the darkest region of the soul, that song IS the blues – nothing scares me or moves me like THAT song. I hope it doesn’t sound pretentious but I often just go into a trance when that song is working correctly – transported to another place – I’m talking bollocks again aren’t I?

Shadowplays: Not at all. I remember reading an interview of Rory where he talked about how Robert Johnson’s music scared him, that he was just that good. Rory’s choice of tunes from these blues legends was atypical, diverging from what the modern blues guitarists would include in their repertoire. Do you have any favorites, besides the included Death Letter Blues that Rory didn’t cover that you would have liked to have seen him cover?

Barry Barnes: He played so many concerts and so many acoustic spots that probably nobody knows everything he played – I would have liked him to cover some Bukka White!

Barry Barnes © naamanus

Shadowplays: Bukka White and that resonator! He played it so good and loud, like an electric guitar! Rory mentioned listening to him on the US Armed Services radio when he was growing up, but I can’t think of any Bukka White songs on the Rory bootleg recordings I have. One of the things that marked Rory’s take on the old Blues tunes was how he made them his own. One only has to listen to songs like Bullfrog Blues, Messin’ with the Kid, or Out on the Western Plain to see how Rory made them his own, to the point that it’s now Rory’s version that people cover. Do you have particular favorites from his covers?

Barry Barnes: My favourite would be ‘Empire State Express’ It’s Rory and Son House so it’s got to be a hit with me!

Shadowplays: Empire State Express — from his album “Fresh Evidence”. He recorded it on St. Patrick’s Day in one take, sitting in the drum booth using the drum mikes. I often wonder what the blues “purists” think of how Rory made these songs his own. I imagine there’s those who don’t want those old songs to stray very much from the original.

Barry Barnes: I think that is exactly what the blues is – interpretation. The early blues men were just taking what they had heard being chanted by their parents in the cotton fields (Much of it in African languages) and then translated into vocal lines and guitar riffs, then Muddy Waters invented electricity! If there are those who don’t want those old songs to stray very much from the original I feel sorry for them, they are missing out on so much!

If you just ape the old record, then it’s a one-dimensional thing. I try to adapt and interpret the songs at the same time. It’s good to capture the original feeling, but there’s no point in doing it just verbatim. I know certain guys who do that and it doesn’t get them anywhere. But then some ultra-purists feel you shouldn’t tamper with these songs or even attempt them. I think it’s one way of keeping the music alive and bringing it another step forward.”– Rory Gallagher

Barry Barnes: Well there you go – even Rory agrees!

Shadowplays: Who are your favorite blues musicians past and present?

Barry Barnes: My personal favourites – Son House, Bukka White, Tampa Red, Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon, Bessie Smith, Sonny Terry and Brownie MgHee.

Shadowplays: Mark Feltham said once that as much as he liked listening to Rory play those old blues numbers, what he really liked was hearing him play his own songs. What are your favorite Rory songs, both to listen to, and play yourself?

Barry Barnes: I’ve always loved playing Moonchild and Hot Coals, and I couldn’t single out any favourite Rory songs, Maybe Tattood Lady would be my all – time favourite – I love Wicked Sadie, she makes me laugh because she gets raided by the police and the chief ends up wearing her nickers on his head – priceless!!

Shadowplays: I love the way Rory changed that song up through the years – adding the flamenco intro, and that chukka-chukka muting of chords (if that makes any sense!!) On your solo album you’ve done a nice acoustic version of Moonchild. That is something I love to hear: acoustic renditions of electric songs. Are you familiar with the Belgian guitarist Jacques Stotzem? Jacques talked about trying ” to catch the original spirit [of a Rory song] and perform it on acoustic guitar. Not playing it note for note but getting the emotion and energy right.

Barry Barnes: You mean Jacques does the same thing as me? I don’t know him, you must introduce me, that’s exactly what I think!

I’ve just looked him up on Youtube – Bloody Hell he’s amazing!!

Shadowplays: Maybe one day Jacques will play at the Ballyshannon festival. He’s done quite a few Rory songs, accompanied by female singer, Géraldine Jonet, and he’s told me he would love to play at the festival. Of course, Rory playing one of his own electric songs acoustically can’t be beat. I loved it when Rory appeared on Irish TV in 1977 and played “Secret Agent” acoustically. MTV use to have a program called, “Unplugged,” back in the late 80′s. Rory would have blown them away.

Barry Barnes: Oh yeah, I’m working it into the acoustic set now – so many songs and so little time!

Shadowplays: What Rory songs would you have liked to hear Rory play unplugged? Certainly Moonchild and I Fall Apart come to mind, and you’ve done both of those on your solo album. I Fall Apart is such an emotional song, don’t you think. Those crashing of chords near the end is almost a pathos.

Barry Barnes: Well the whole point of me playing some of the songs as I do, with just strummed guitar chords, is because they are so well written that they stand up as great songs even without the solos, drums etc. Also I think that the songs from later in his career leaned towards “acoustic-ness” anyway, stuff like Seven Days or Seems to Me ring out acoustically to me (And I love all the later stuff as much as the earlier)

Shadowplays: Your work with Sinnerboy has also given you a chance to play with some great musicians such as Pat McManus of Mama’s Boys, Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash. Andy was a big fan of Rory’s? I remember reading an article about a big Finnish festival and Rory and Lou, and Wishbone Ash’s original bassist, Martin Turner are jamming away at a pre-festival gig . I wonder whether Andy ever got up on stage with him. Talk about your double guitars!

Barry Barnes: You could have knocked me down with a feather! Andy stood at the side of the stage and watched my whole acoustic set and then said “I don’t know how the f…k you can do that Barry – I’d be terrified!” ha, he was lovely, and so great to play with – a real pro, just like Pat who I love dearly. I can’t remember Andy saying he’d Jammed with Rory or not but he really loved playing the stuff with me – we had a great time!

Barry with Ted and Gerry

Shadowplays: And you also got to play with Rory’s bandmates? Can you tell me the circumstances, how it went, etc? That had to send chills down your spine. Own up, Barry, did you think for one brief, shining moment that you were seeing what Rory saw all those years ago?

Barry Barnes: Twickenham, London at a charity concert – Gerry, Ted, Lou and me and I thought I was going to shit myself! But they were very kind and we ended up having a great jam – and yes, I closed my eyes and bathed in it – milked it as much as I could – made sure it was ingrained in my memory forever – a fantastic moment I’ll never forget.

Shadowplays: Did you get to talk a bit with Gerry and the band about their playing with Rory? Any stories you remember?

Barry Barnes: Lots, mostly told to me by Lou (Who is now unfortunately very sick) mostly about high spirits involving the band but always respectful when talking about Rory. A great one was Ted packing his trousers in his suitcase, having the case taken to the airport then having no trousers to wear and Gerry buying him a pair three sizes too small – I wish I could have seen that!

Shadowplays: What about your own band? You’ve been on the road with Sinnerboy for 11 years now. What’s your favorite memories from your life on the road?

Barry Barnes: It would take me a week to write them all down! Awesome gigs at The Ulster Hall (Belfast) Torreperroghil (Spain) Thessaloniki and Athens, Duky Town Hall, Ballyshannon, Temple bar Music Centre (Dublin) and hundreds of others, eating fish and drinking wine in Greece with wonderful friends, Talking about Rory Gallagher to all the fantastic people I’ve met along the way.

Shadowplays: Can you see doing these tributes another 15 years? How are the hands holding up? Eric Clapton said that he could play just as well as the old days, it just takes a lot longer to warm up now.

Barry Barnes: Yep, I’m 60 next year so I think I can safely say I’ll still be here at 75! My fingers are stiffer and not as fast as I used to be (I was never very fast) but I still love every note!

Shadowplays: Irish poet, Louis de Paor once said that, “maybe he [Rory] never fully realized how much he and his music meant to us all and that he was gone before we had a chance to tell him.” What has Rory and his music meant to you, Barry? What would you tell him?

Barry Barnes: I’d tell him I love him, that he has been my life and I wish he was a bit easier to copy!

Shadowplays: Barry, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. I appreciate all you’ve done to promote Rory’s music. Here’s to 15 more years of Sinnerboy!

Barry Barnes: We can do another one in 2026, when we can talk about the Madison Square garden gig and the Rory concert I played on the moon!



It’s Saturday night at the Cavern Club and despite the recent departure of his old band mates, Barry Barnes is once again hosting the longest running Rory Gallagher tribute festival. Tune-up gigs in Ireland have gone well for the new Sinnerboy, with new band mates Nick Skelson and Jonny Brutal assimilating well Barry’s extensive catalogue of Rory tunes. Hopefully one day Barry Barnes and Sinnerboy will come to your hometown and play the music of Rory Gallagher with as much passion and love as you’ll ever see. I think you’ll agree with me that you’ll want to “take this sinner boy home” with you. He’ll definitely do you no harm, and most assuredly do you a wealth of good.

Sinner Boy



























(Sinner Boy, words and lyrics by Rory Gallagher)