Somerville Arts Council Abbie Barrett, November Artist of the Month



Abbie Barrett & The Last Date have been featured regularly on WXRV The River, and in American Songwriter and Performing Songwriter magazines. She was Timberland’s artist of the month in November, 2011; her song “On the Range” was included in CMT’s Cool Album Cuts that same month. She attributes much of her songwriting style to Neil Young, though she draws on a wide range of influences. Musoscribe has this to say about “The Triples: Volume I”: “‘On the Range’ sounds like Ennio Morricone crossed with A Camp, and the winsome ‘Draw Me In’ sounds like an outtake from Pink Floyd’s ‘Obscured by Clouds.’”

What’s a brief overview of what you do?

I write songs, bring them to my band, and then we practice them (more than twice, ideally) and play them in front of people. It’s not what I do for a living, sadly, but it’s pretty awesome. I’m lucky enough to play with very talented musicians. They don’t get paid much, if anything, and I’m really mean to them, so it’s only a matter of time before they rise up against me.

Are there some past projects you’d like to mention in more detail?

My first album came out in 2008. Since then, my band, The Last Date, has put out two EPs (and a third one is in the works). I don’t really have any past projects, per se. I’m still chugging along with the band, hoping to continue doing what we’re doing. I’m not really a collaborative songwriter, but I will pretty much sing on any album, if asked politely and offered free food. I regularly sing back up for another band, Jenny Dee & The Deelinquents.

Is there anything new you’re working on, or an event that’s coming up?

We’re finishing up “The Triples,” a series of three EPS (each with three songs). I’m hoping to release the last one at our next gig (The Lizard Lounge, November 21), but it will take a serrrrious miracle to get it done in time.

Why do you do what you do? What’s something you get out of it?

Well, for starters I f#%*ing love singing, and even though writing songs makes me want to shoot myself in the face sometimes, once I finish the song, I feel good. Honestly, I think if I didn’t perform and write music, I’d resent everyone who goes out on the stage. Wow, that’s totally crazy. I should probably talk to someone about that.

What got you involved in doing what you do? Is there someone or something that was important in getting you on your way? (A big break you got, or a mentor who helped you, etc.)

Not really anyone in my past. I’ve had a few people encourage me to sing, but I don’t remember a defining moment when someone said, “you should do music seriously.” (Maybe someone did, but I was too busy watching television or eating Doritos or something.)

Truth be told, I’ve met more mentor-type people here in Somerville after having done music for a while. The people who motivate me to keep going are those who’ve made a life of music well after their 20s and 30s. Anyone can grab a guitar and sing late-night gigs in their prime, more energetic years. But the ones who hit the music clubs every week, keep pushing themselves to learn different things, and work on new projects month after month—those are the ones to which I aspire.

As for my “big break,” I’m still waiting for it. I assume success will depend on my twerking abilities.

Any thoughts on the local Somerville- or Boston-area creative scene?

It’s very supportive. A few key people in the area help a lot of young people transition from fledgling musician to full-on performer. Tom Bianchi and Geoff Bartley (who both host amazing open mics) come to mind. These guys are amazing musicians—and they’ve taken the time to cultivate a rewarding music scene for everyone else.

Somerville (and Cambridge) clubs and restaurants have been great about hosting and promoting live, local music. But as any city continues to grow—both in size and wealth—there’s always a risk of losing this commitment to music. I hope to see Somerville stick to its artistic roots as it expands.



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