the Barlow Sample Band, Baby!

 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, Joel and Donald hooked up with a local guitar player whom Joel had originally met at NY’s fabled High School of Music and Art. Joel graduated, for what it’s worth. The other fella… not so much, but since he could actually compose songs and crack the whip at rehearsals, 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, they discovered a older gentleman known as “the Reverend”, who was looking for a band to join. 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 CBGB, My Father’s Place, the Rain Forest, Trax, Rock Bottom and, for many, a highlight of their time together, outdoor shows at the Central Park Bandshell 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, sax and percussion, the crowds on the Bowery started drifting south one short block from Gildersleeves to CBGB, 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 and Done.

Said and Done
©2005 by bobwhite
Written, produced, engineered, arranged, sung, played, programmed and dinner cooked by bobwhite

And If I tell the truth, the band was pretty tight
We had our moments in the sun
But you were never very far from the spotlight
And it was always said and done

You came along and gave us all that discipline
And for a time we played as one
But in the end, it was just your band we were in
And it was always said and done


Said and done, you old heartbreaker
Said and done, don’t ask me why
Said and done, you kissed the girls
And made them cry

I made a point to never go where you had been
The way you treated girls was a sin
‘Cause love for you was never more than games you’d won
And it was always said and done


The way you damaged friends
Like Mr. G and Dave
Now you beg forgiveness
From the grave

For three long years we were together side by side
Sometimes it could be a bumpy ride
And in the end I knew that you could not be the one
‘Coz it was always said and done


most photos by Mark Ivins

Onstage at Great Gildersleeves, Bowery, NYC

Joel “Barlow” Abramson

Donald Sanders – flying bassist

Donald Sanders

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

And I still have the banner I painted back in 1977 🙂 Built to last, baby!

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