Saturday, April 26, 2014

Five Minutes with Actor/Artist/Musician/Songwriter Barry Thomas Goldberg

Barry Thomas Goldberg is a veteran Twin Cities musician and songwriter who later took up acting and has essentially spent a lifetime in creative pursuits. Some of his music is currently available on CD Baby, but can also be found at his website Goldberg is one of more than two dozen musicians who will be performing in mid-May at the Sacred Heart Music Center in a show titled A Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan.

EN: Have you made your living in music or is that something you shared with another career? 
Barry Thomas Goldberg: Occasionally I have. But recently even musicians with ”hit“ records (Whatever a hit is now) don’t make a living from the music business.

Music has lost much of its sales value because of all the social media and technology that allows it to be disposable. The Wu-Tang Clan is trying to make music an art again and more valuable by treating it like a piece of art, like a painting. They are only selling one copy of their new album. It’s an interesting concept but I doubt whether it will catch on. We’ll see.

I have done a number of gigs and released a lot of albums. In January I signed a contract with the Seattle and LA based “Light In the Attic Records” to reissue my very first solo album “Misty Flats” from 1974. So financially that helps for the time being.

Also I’m finally starting to sell some of my paintings that I have done in the past few years.

EN: Mid-life you took up acting. Have you been involved in theater?
BTG: Yes. Starting in1999 to 2001 I did two independent movies “Flutterblast” and “Mystagogos” with Jay Lee and Arne Fogel in which I wrote the music, acted and wrote the screenplays for. Unfortunately, the director for some reason, refuses to release them to the public. I don’t know what he is waiting for.

Then in 2010 I started doing an internet variety show called “Headquarters and Dimes” which was Gretchen Seichrist’s project. That culminated in a show at the Loring Theatre in Minneapolis.

I also wrote, directed, acted and composed the music for a 17 minute silent comedy short titled “Incidental Slapstick” with Arne Fogel in 2011. You can see excerpts of the two movies on Youtube. You can see all of “Incidental Slapstick” on Vimeo or Youtube.

EN: How did you first come to take an interest in Bob Dylan? 
BTG: I was a late-comer to Dylan. I enjoyed his singles of course, but I wasn’t a huge Dylan fan. I was immersed in the Beatles and the British sound. I also loved American bands like Lovin’ Spoonful, the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield to mention a few. It wasn’t until the early 70’s that I really became influenced by Dylan and his taste in poetry and his philosophy in life. Mainly, he opened the door to the poets Rimbaud, Verlaine and Ginsberg for me.

EN: Do you have some favorite Dylan songs you like to perform? Why these, if yes? 
BTG: My favorite Dylan songs have way too many lyrics for me to remember at this stage of my life. Billy Hallquist kinda suggests songs for me and I do them. So I really enjoy that.

EN: What other kinds of music do you like to play? 
BTG: From the very beginning when I started recording in 1966, I never was a musician who played a lot of cover songs. I’ve always played my own compositions.

EN: What are the biggest challenges of being a songwriter? 
BTG: In 1967 I co-wrote “Twenty Years Ago in Speedy’s Kitchen” for T.C. Atlantic, which was a national hit. I made very little money on that. I also co-wrote several other songs that were either local hits or at least were with major labels and publishing companies. I started going to New York City in 1975 where I tried to become a song plugger. I was a miserable failure at it but I did get a production company to pay for the recording of my 3rd solo album. And then in the 90’s I tried to write country songs. The feedback for these songs was really good but they all said I had to move to Nashville, which I had no intention of doing.

So I guess the challenge really is – are you willing to put it all on the line to go to Nashville, LA, or New York with passion and sacrifice? I have written many songs through the years and I hope in the coming years other artists will take a second look at these songs.

EN: How did you connect with and become part of A Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan? 
BTG: The Salute to Bob Dylan originally was the musicians who played on Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks” album. I’ve been a friend of Kevin Odegard’s for many years and he was the one, along with Billy Hallquist, who initially asked me to join in.

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EdNote: This blog entry and others like it have the aim of raising awareness for the upcoming Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan concert which will kick off the 2014 North Country Dylan Celebration in Duluth and Hibbing. Sacred Heart Music Center, May 17, 2014. For tickets to this great event visit

If you wish to help, visit the Salute Facebook page and share with your friends by clicking the Invite button. 

A Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan is a presentation of the Armory Arts and Music Center and Magic Marc Productions.


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