Best Folk Artist (2009)

Gabe Barnett

In a land of 10,000 Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie wannabes, Gabe Barnett seems like the most fitting victim to compare to those folk icons. But to do so would imply something less than genuine about this fiercely independent, grassroots folk singer. He embodies the spirit of the wandering troubadour, to be sure, but there are no gimmicks or mimicry to his music. When he sings, he stands up tall and raises his eyebrows toward the ceiling, projecting his words into the room with the unabashed earnestness that so many indie-folk kids are trying desperately to achieve. Barnett has stumbled onto the key that could unlock and then unravel the whole neo-folk movement: If you want to seem sincere, you have to mean it. He works as a full-time musician, surviving off the meager profits of his songs, traveling with a guitar on his back, so when he sings about the evils of consumerism and the search for freedom, his words carry weight. In true West Bank folk-singer tradition, catch him gigging at clubs like the 400 Bar and the new Acadia Cafe before the wind picks up and carries him away.


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