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Jonathan Barker

Updated: Jan 26, 2018

“My mom played piano, and I remember being a kid and lying in bed and listening to her play on her old upright. I had wanted to play the drums, but after the school deadline to sign up mysteriously came and went without my parents signing the authorization slip, my mom offered to pay for piano lessons.  That was in 4th grade.”

“By the time I started high school, I knew that I wanted music to be a big part of my life. I wanted to be a part of the magic that people feel watching and experiencing live music. It’s those magical experiences that I still live for. Those nights when you lose yourself in the music and in the moment. The only thing that matters is the music and your connection with the audience and the others on stage with you.  It’s those nights when the music takes over, the crowd is completely tuned in and the band is just the medium that’s connecting the music to the soul.”

“Since high school, I’ve played with a number of bands, but my oldest standing gig is with The Electric Woodshed started by Craig Counts in 1986.  When I joined the Shed in ’89, I started meeting more of the local musicians and I was learning new music and expanding my musical boundaries.  Since then, I’ve met so many talented people in this area and I’ve been exposed to so much music, my horizons have really stretched far and wide.”

“I’ve also had the opportunity to play with dozens of musicians over the years. One of my favorite memories came early in my career when Electric Woodshed performed as Bo Diddley’s backup band. He walked in carrying his guitar and amp, set up, and said ‘You boys ready?’  We went through three riffs and he said “This’ll work” and we played the show that night. It was incredible and scary all at the same time.”

“If you love music and it speaks to you, don’t be discouraged when you hit a wall.  Walls come down through persistence and practice. Also, don’t compare yourself to others.  It is so easy to do and it can really humble you.  Everyone has their own touch, style, and method of expression. We all have our own voice and we all have our own public and private reach, the music matters, and it matters more to people than you may realize.”

In addition to still playing occasionally with The Electric Woodshed, Jonathan Barker’s is the lead singer and keys player for classic rock band Runaway Jones. He also plays keys in the duet act, The Other White Meat, with guitarist Steve Guidus. Other days, you might finding him sitting in with a range of other bands including, Ministers of Soul, Leggz, The Kind, Nicholson Bros, and Groovascape.

Barker released his third CD, “JBIII,” an 11 track, all original album, that combines jazz with funk and rock. It features a number of Roanoke’s talented musicians including Hoppie Vaughan, Craig Counts, Brittany Sparks, Melissa Mesko, Brett Reynolds, and Jake Dempsey. You can learn more about Barker and find links to purchase all of his works online at:



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