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Putting the local in the country music scene

If you spend time listening to local radio, you have probably heard Jason Barry’s voice. The catchy jingle for Dan’s Discount Windows and Doors in Kitchener was crafted, played and sung by Barry, a St. Clements resident whose list of credits goes far beyond that commercial.

“A lot of the guys around here are in construction and they laugh when they hear that song come on the radio,” he said with a smile.

Having worked with some of his musical idols, and scooped up a variety of awards doing it, Jason Barry has every reason to be happy with his current setup in St. Clements, one he would like to see continue.
Having worked with some of his musical idols, and scooped up a variety of awards doing it, Jason Barry has every reason to be happy with his current setup in St. Clements, one he would like to see continue.

When he is not singing about local furnishing companies, Barry spends his time mixing and producing records for some of the biggest names in Canadian country music. On Wednesday, for instance, Barry was heading into Fergus to play alongside Shane Yellowbird, whose current hit “Bare feet on the black top” is quickly climbing the country charts.

Barry’s career in music production started as a stroke of luck, he said, and it was a long road to get to where he is now. He was born deaf, and for the first six years of his life, he was believed to have had a learning disability. His mother didn’t want to accept that answer from the doctors and took him to see a hearing specialist who was able to restore his hearing with a few simple procedures.

“I remember that moment when I was first able to hear,” he explained. “Everything was so loud. I could hear the air going past my ears and the clock ticking on the wall.” A few years later, he picked up the guitar and followed the lead of his father, who was a fairly well-known guitar player at the time.

After a decade or so of playing recreationally, he was introduced by a friend to producer Rick Hutt. When Barry arrived at the studio, Hutt was just putting the finishing touches on a song that Tom Cochrane had recorded in the studio that day. Instead of a cursory visit, Barry was pressed into service.

“He said to me, ‘You’re a guitar player, can you help me with something? Everyone else has gone home already.’”

Barry ended up playing one part of the song that hadn’t recorded properly. Before he left the studio, Hutt asked him if he could come back the next day, and then the next. From that point, Barry continued to return to the studio as a guitar player, then as a backup singer and then as a producer himself.

Since then he has been presented with a plethora of Canadian Country Music Awards, including ones for studio of the year in 2009, producer of the year four times and guitar player of the year for 13 years running.

Although Barry has been in the business for almost 20 years, he still gets some nervous butterflies upon meeting some of his own idols.

“When I started, Charlie Major was one of the big acts of the time,” Barry noted. “I remember watching him on TV and thinking, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be cool to play those songs?’ Getting the chance to actually play on his record felt like winning the lottery for me.”

Barry grew up in the rural community of Derby Junction in New Brunswick before moving to this area to marry his wife Melissa – he’s no stranger to small-town life. The area is, however, sometimes a bit of a change of pace for performers who come out this way from Nashville.

“Charlie Major and Terri Clark both came here and they loved this place. Everyone who comes here falls in love with the town,” Barry says of the musicians who have come to visit his home. “People who live in big cities just get used to being solo and reclusive. It’s easy to get used to not looking at people and not saying hi to anybody. Here it is just the opposite; it’s like a vacation for them.”

Recently a neighbour of Barry’s complained about the noise coming from his garage, and Barry was forced to approach Wellesley council to request permission to use what is now a shed in his backyard as a rehearsal space for visiting musicians. The ‘noisemaker’ who drew the neighbours’ ire was Aaron Lines, a chart-topping Canadian country musician who was once named Male Artist of the Year at the Canadian Country Music Awards.

“That was a bit of a drag,” noted Barry.

But it seems as though the majority of community members aren’t annoyed by the music coming from the garage, but entertained, and some even come over to visit.

“A lot of people in the town here are country music fans. Some of the guys (Aaron Lines and fellow Canadian artist Yellowbird included) will come over here for a beer and a campfire and the neighbours will come by to say hello.”

If the township approves Barry’s request to continue using his garage as a practice space, he plans to play guitar here for many more years.

“It’s a lot of fun and I hope it never ends,” he said as he knocked on the wood paneling of his small practice room. “I have been very fortunate.”

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4 comments
  1. I totally agree with George. This is a great article on a very talented and deserving young man. I have known Jason for many years, and have had the privelege of being a part of his world of music. I’ve never known it to be that loud, just great. As a matter of fact, the heavy traffic from tractor trailors, dump trucks, and even cars make more noise than anything coming from Jason’s garage. Maybe this should be more of a concern if there’s a noise issue. Let it be known that, I not only enjoy the opportunity to to get out to his jam sessions and enjoy small town life, but when I come to St. Clements, I spend time and money at many of the local businesses. I buy my gas at the local station, I buy all my bird supplies from the local pet store, I shop for fresh meats at Stemmler’s in Heidelburg, and luv to have a brew at the Inn. I’m sure many others do the same. Jason is a celebrity in the country music world, and the people here should be proud to have someone like Jason in their community. Insulation is good George. Have a great day.

  2. Seriously? Here is someone who is helping put Elmira and this township on the map, who hasn’t flown off to Toronto, LA, or Nashville, but is here because he loves this town, and loves to make music. This article isn’t meant to be a by-law discussion or proper zoning regulations but an opportunity to share an amazing local story of someone who is making his dream come true.

    I am proud to be a part of this township and am looking forward to hearing more about Jason’s success in the music industry as he carries our community on his back.

    Good reporting, bad interpretation of what the story was meant to be about.

    AND on the zoning issue, who cares if he plays music in his garage, just enforce that he extra-insulates his garage so that it doesn’t disturb neighbours. Maybe ask him to e-mail his neighbours to come and listen to amazing musicians once in a while so they can enjoy his passion! 🙂

    Enjoy life and the joy that is created in our community. Thanks for a great story!

    George

  3. Allowing this kind of zoning in what has been a strictly residential neighbourhood would set a dangerous precedent for future land use in this area, and we should all be concerned. Wellesley has been very strict in the past in enforcing their by-laws; that’s their job. It would be upsetting if they didn’t take this seriously.

    I’m disappointed in the quality of your reporting.

  4. As I understand it, it isn’t a garage, it’s a recording studio… and it was built without zoning or permission.

    I don’t think people would have a problem if it was just a garage.

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