Interviews LeeBarbour(VikkiMatsis)*

Published on December 10th, 2012 | by Ballard Lesemann


The Punch List with Lee Barbour

Metronome Charleston‘s weekly Punch List puts local musicians on the spot with a questionnaire that touches on music, venues, gear, records, vices, and more. This week, veteran jazz/rock/improv guitarist Lee Barbour of the Gradual Lean (and other various projects) responds point by point.

1. What is your favorite local hang (hangout/bar/venue) and why?

“As far as bars go, I spend most of my time at Hom, sharpening my ping-pong blade. When it comes to shows, I love the Pour House for their people, sound, and diversity of acts.”

2. You know you’ve played an excellent show when…

“The crowd is standing, cheering, and smiling.”

3. What was the last show you attended that really got you fired up in a good or bad way?

“Rachel-Kate and Slow Runner at the Circular Congregational Church. Man, we’ve got some talent in this town. It’s a level that’s on par with New York City, but with a sense of community that New York City can’t touch.”

The Gradual Lean: Kevin Hamilton, Lee Barbour, and Quentin Baxter (photo by Tony Bell)

The Gradual Lean: Kevin Hamilton, Lee Barbour, and Quentin Baxter (photo by Tony Bell)

4. Define your musical style in exactly 10 words.

“Experimental indie Southern levitational avant garage jazz for the people.”

5. What’s your theme song? 

“Miserlou” [by Dick Dale and the Del-Tones]

6. Gear-wise, what’s is your irreplaceable baby?

“Well, I thought several years ago that my pedalboard was irreplaceable. Then, I left it on the subway in N.Y.C. after a Valentine’s Day gig. It was heartbreaking, but now, years later, my pedalboard is even more badass.”

7. What’s the most overplayed album in your collection?

“Bill Frisell’s Gone Just Like at Train. Not overplayed … just played a lot.”

8. When was the last time you were genuinely star-struck?

“A few years ago, I was playing at Mercato when Dave Matthews walked downstairs. I forgot where I was in the song and was immediately laughed at by my bandmates. Deservedly so.”

9. What’s your poison?

Lagavulin, single malt Islay scotch. A tasty, expensive treat.”

10. In 10 years, I will be…

“Touring the world with whatever band I choose, producing great records, earning my black belt as a true ping-pong ninja, and loving life in Charleston, S.C.”

Lee Barbour is a Charleston-based guitarist, composer, and bandleader. He’s performed for years with such jazz-tinged combos as Gradual Lean and Caravan, and he’s collaborated with a slew of rock, blues, cinematic, and Americana artists. His latest solo album, nonfiction, touches on many genres.

Barbour performs every Thursday at Fish on King Street from 7-10 p.m. with a rotating cast of “Charleston’s best musicians and songwriters.” He’ll perform guitar with the Gradual Lean on Tues. Dec. 11 at Voodoo Tiki Bar in West Ashley.

Barbour will also perform with Hotter than July (a Stevie Wonder cover band) on New Year’s Eve at Social Wine Bar.

Visit and for more.



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About the Author

Ballard Lesemann

is a musician and writer. Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., he spent years playing in bands and working for Flagpole Magazine in the bustling music town of Athens, Ga. He returned to his hometown and served more than seven years as the Charleston City Paper's music editor. He's better at drumming than he is at playing guitar.

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