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the sound of starroy
Story By Mike Overall

When the Jonesboro-based band Starroy releases its new album in the spring or summer of next year, the new CD could signal a breakout moment for “the Number One Band in Jamband and Psychedelic rankings for MYSPACE artists in Arkansas.” The release could open the pathway to national and international stardom for five gifted musicians who have steadfastly refused to give in to the sometimes unforgiving vagaries and pitfalls of the popular music business.

Starroy has been a work in progress for well over a decade, when lead singer Adam Barnard and bassist/guitarist Justin Henry first began honing their skills as rock and roll musicians in their Missouri Bootheel hometown of Steele.

Although there was no Starroy at the time, the two aspiring musicians worked diligently to improve their skills, thinking and dreaming all the while that one day they would be a part of a band that would make its mark as a standout group driven by artists of the first rank.

Starroy became a reality when the two musicians arrived at Arkansas State University and met the players who would join them in forming what fans and critics have called the hardest-working touring band in Arkansas. Today, Starroy is Barnard, vocals and acoustic; Barry Fowler of Jonesboro, guitar one; Henry on bass and guitar two; Heath Finch of West Memphis, drums and percussion; and the band’s newest member, Darren Williams of Jonesboro, piano and organ.

Guitarist Fowler described Starroy as a “country fried/psychedelic/rock and roll band” that incorporates country blues and Southern grit with rock, blues, and some jazz thrown in for good measure.

“Our music is a good representation of where and how we grew up” on the northern edge of the great Mississippi Delta, where the tradition of uniquely American music and culture are as rich as the alluvial soil that makes the area the richest farmland in the world.

“Sometimes there’s more playing than singing when we perform,” Fowler said, “but because Adam’s voice is so powerful, and since he possesses such an extraordinary vocal range,” the band’s penchant for spontaneity and improvisational flights in large part are engendered by the singer’s lyrics, which serve as a catalyst for pieces that may be quite lengthy. The musicians are so talented and possess such empathy among themselves that they create while they play, if you will, which accentuates the musical tension and release their fans have come to expect from a band that places a premium on the sound of surprise.
“We may be semi-predictable in what we play,” Fowler said with a wry smile, “but not always. I suppose you may call some of what we perform organized chaos,” albeit it a brand of “chaos” in which the melodic line is never sacrificed and supplanted by nonsensical cacophony.
The band experienced a major setback on Friday, July 13, 2007, when the group was on tour in Seattle, Washington. Some enterprising thieves detached their equipment trailer from the main vehicle in a suburban parking lot and made off with approximately $55,000 worth of sound equipment and instruments.
“We had parked for the night and didn’t discover the theft until hours later,” Fowler recalled. Although the loss was catastrophic for the band members, especially those instruments that to a professional musician are treasured personal items that seem irreplaceable, the Starroy musicians took the whole thing in grievous stride.

Family, friends and fans came to the band’s aid, loaning them instruments and sound equipment so they could complete their tour of the Northwest. Fundraisers were held to help offset the monetary loss, and in typical Starroy fashion, the band met adversity head-on and forged ahead with their music.
“We pride ourselves on being professionals,” Fowler said in a recent interview, “and weren’t about to throw in the towel, despite the fact that the loss of our equipment was a major blow to our morale and a financial setback of major proportions.”

Starroy has hit the road so often that they have played in twelve-plus states, for club- and concert-sized crowds of adoring fans. More and more music critics are picking up on the band’s unique style and are flooding the Internet and other information outlets with words of praise for the down-home rockers whose sound is as gritty, earthy and explosive as the land whence they came.
“Even when we do cover (standard) songs, we pride ourselves on making sure they have the Starroy sound and style,” Fowler said. Although the band plays a genre familiar to millions of listeners throughout the nation and world, Starroy’s originality and artistry always comes through, even when they are performing someone else’s music.

The band’s new album will be recorded by engineer/drummer Brad Vosburg, a former Jonesboro resident who runs Fox Mountain Studios in Nashville.
“The album will be more of an artsy kind of side,” Fowler said, “and should be quite radio-friendly. Right now we’re in the process of tightening the songs in preparation for what we hope will be the best recording we’ve ever done.”

Today as always, Starroy is a sterling work in progress. And when that new album hits the market next year, Starroy may make that giant leap into the musical firmament, where new stars are born and shed a special light on the world of popular music.

To learn more about Starroy, visit the band’s Web site at www.myspace.com/starroy.