published Thursday, July 24th, 2014

In life and music, Bobby Bare Jr. mines personal connections

Bobby Bare Jr. can drop names with the best of them. As a matter of fact, he probably knows the best of them.

In the course of 15 minutes chatting in advance of his show Friday, July 25, at JJ’s Bohemia, the witty Nashville-based singer/songwriter touched on his family’s long-standing relationship with celebrated poet Shel Silverstein, his father’s friendship with Chet Atkins and his own past collaborations with members of My Morning Jacket.

To his credit, he didn’t even bring up that he grew up in Hendersonville, Tenn., with Tammy Wynette and George Jones for neighbors.

Bare doesn’t bring up these connections to sound important or elitist; they just slip out. The son of multi-Grammy-nominated Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Bare Sr., he grew up surrounded by musical goodness, so to him, they’re first-name-basis normal.


What: Bobby Bare Jr.

When: 7 p.m. Friday, July 25.

Where: JJ’s Bohemia, 231 E. M.L. King Blvd.

Admission: $10.

Phone: 423-266-1400.



1998: “Boo-tay”

2000: “Brainwasher”

2002: “Bobby Bare Jr.’s Young Criminals’ Starvation League”

2004: “From the End of Your Leash”

2006: “The Longest Meow” / “Live: Nick Nacks & Paddy Whacks”

2010: “A Storm, A Tree, My Mother’s Head”

2014: “Undefeated”

Despite his many ties to noteworthy artists, however, Bare says he’s never taken his own career for granted.

“It’s unbelievable that I get to do this for a living,” he says. “It’s really, really fun to jump around in front of strangers singing about emotions and feelings. It’s really fun to get to act out like a 4-year-old. There’s nothing bad about it.”

Bare achieved showbiz acclaim early in life by receiving a Grammy nod at age 6 for a duet he recorded with his father of the Shel Silverstein song “Daddy, What If.” But it wasn’t until he reached out to the poet almost a quarter of a century later that he began to seriously consider pursuing music.

Silverstein, whose books have sold more than 20 million copies, helped critique Bare’s music. Bare says those discussions helped him learn to make his music more meaningful and impactful.

“He taught me that you can’t overwrite and you can’t go too far with an idea,” Bare says. “He would take an outrageous idea and write that idea and then push it further than you can imagine.”

Almost 20 years later, Bare has made a name for himself as a songwriter with a flair for humorous and inventive lyrics. He’s currently touring in support of “Undefeated,” his first album in four years. The record was released in April by Bloodshot Records, the home of artists such as Ryan Adams, Neko Case and Justin Townes Earle, with whom Bare also has a personal connection.

“[He] lived in my house for a year four or five years ago,” Bare says.

Just one more star in his constellation. Surprise, surprise.

Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfree or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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