The Barlow Sample Band, Baby! was a late-70’s NYC based band; “four kids from Queens, with long hair and jeans” said one music publication.
Joel Abramson and Donald Sanders (with their pal Mike Hammett) played in a band called Train in the mid-70’s. Train was unique in that it was really two bands in one. With Donald on guitar and Joel on bass, they leaned more towards prog rock and metal type of songs – King Crimson, Led Zep, Jeff Beck. With Joel on guitar and Donald on bass, their repertoire was more blues and funk based, and they started writing songs like Your Mama Rides the F train.
In 1977, they hooked up with local guitar maestro Hank Dunne, whom Joel had originally met at NY’s fabled High School of Music and Art. Hank could actually compose songs and organize structured rehearsals, so they agreed to form a band. Donny was relegated to full time bassist. All that was left was to find a guy who had rehearsal space, owned a car and, oh yeah, could play the drums. Looking no further than their local music store, Halco Music on Northern Blvd, they discovered David “the Reverend” Caldwell.
Two guitars, bass, drums, a couple of relatively capable vocalists… a band was born.
Self described as, “rock & roll, funk and soul, progressive, regressive and undoubtedly live”, the Barlow Sample Band, Baby! was, from 1977-1980, a fixture on the New York club scene and college circuit. They made their home base at the Great Gildersleeves on the Bowery, as well as being showcased at premier clubs like CBGBs, My Father’s Place, the Rain Forest, Trax, Rock Bottom and, for many, a highlight of their time together, outdoor shows at the Bandshell in Central Park and at Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.
Influenced by classic rock, blues, funk and fusion, the band aspired to be Steely Dan meets the Average White Band with a heavy dose of Hendrix, Montrose and Leslie West…
Of course, this time period coincided with disco, punk and rap exploding all over New York City at the same time. As time wore on, and “Barlow” was growing musically, adding to their sound with keyboards (Richard Danar), sax and percussion, the crowds on the Bowery started drifting south one short block from Gildersleeves to CBGBs, where it was more of a “three chords and the truth” energy, musicianship replaced by fury, harmony replaced by attitude, aggression, rebellion. Our competition was now bands like the Ramones, Blondie, Television, the Talking Heads… Barlow’s window of opportunity closed.
But hey – it was mostly fun. Some years back, I wrote a song about my BSBB! experiences, in the style of the time, to the best of my ability as a one-man band. I even sang the first verse using my old Barlow mic. Check this out: It’s called Said & Done.
Said In Dunne ©2005 by bobwhite
Written, produced, engineered, arranged, sung, played, programmed and dinner cooked by bobwhite
most photos by Mark Ivins
On the Bowery 1979-ish. One block away, CGGB’s loomed
Onstage at Great Gildersleeves, Bowery, NYC
Bells of Hell, NYC
Hank Dunne – Great Gildersleeves
Joel “Barlow” Abramson
Donald Sanders – flying bassist
L to R: Hank Dunne, Donald Sanders, Joel “Barlow” Abramson, David Caldwell
L to R: Hank Dunne, David Caldwell, Donald Sanders, Joel “Barlow” Abramson
Doing the Barlow, Central Park Bandshell, NY, NY
One look at the schedule will give you a decent idea of where the Barlow Sample Band, Baby! rated on the New York club scene