Monday, February 04, 2013

Howdy folks!  Question: Do you love music in all its manifestations?  Then allow me to introduce you to Barbara Kooyman, one of Austin’s finest singer/songwriter’s and most dynamic creative forces.  Even within a city as dense and bursting with musical mayhem and mastery as A-town, few have a resume as impressive as the Wisconsin native.

Barbara K—as she is known to friends and fans alike—first made a name for herself back in the 1980s as half of the popular duo Timbuk3.  Actually, it might be said she was one third of the group, which included her husband at the time Pat MacDonald, and a jam box inventively programmed to provide beats and rhythm. The group’s catchy, thoughtful pop tunes drew critical acclaim and a national fan base almost overnight.  Of the five highly praised albums released by the band, their debut, Greetings From Timbuk3, had the greatest impact in the pop music world.  The album’s single, The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades, was a Top Twenty hit and has appeared in numerous movies and television series over the years, and has been included in numerous compilation CDs.

After splitting with MacDonald in 1995, Kooyman remained in Austin raising the couple's son while pursuing a solo career. She recorded three solo albums, two of which featured her original songs and one filled with her own interpretations of the songs of Timbuk3 (all three albums released on her own label Sparrows Wheel).

She has also applied her creative energy to issues confronting independent artists by co-founding Artists for Media Diversity, or A4MD.  The non-profit seeks to protect freedom of speech through the funding of services for alternative non-commercial media sources, to foster independent media voices, and to promote musical and cultural diversity.

Today you’ll find Barbara K still entrenched in the city’s musical culture.  She currently takes the stage every Wednesday at the cozy Continental Gallery on South Congress (above the tattoo parlor, next to the Continental Club).  For an evening of brilliant song craft and superb musicianship, this is a no-brainer. The Gallery has become one of Austin’s finest “listening rooms.”  Capacity is limited to 65 people so the atmosphere is somewhat like being at a home concert rather than in a bar on a popular entertainment strip.  Magic happens here.

She is joined by some of Austin’s most esteemed players—drummer extraordinaire Hector Munoz (Alejandro Escovedo) and guitar whiz Mike Hardwick (Eliza Gilkyson) this month—while showcasing the songwriting chops she’s honed over her long and illustrious career.  Performing a cross-section of her work--from tunes birthed during the Timbuk3 era to current works in progress—Barbara K live at the Gallery is a perfect manifestation of the quality and diversity of Austin music.  With a uniquely intimate setting and no cover charge, you really have no excuses.  I might as well just say it—Barbara k is special!

I would love to get your feedback or questions below.  

Until next time, “Keep it Low and Swinging.”

Photos via Flickr CC, courtesy of jonl

Pat Cosgrove considers himself Austin's quintessential live-music fan.  He can be found catching shows several nights a week at venues such as the continental Gallery and the White Horse Saloon, to name a few.  He is constantly searching for the next hot, under-the-radar act and coolest new live-music joints.  He is also a world traveler, a tequila drinker and a dancing fool.  If you see him out on the town, don't hesitate to say howdy.