Forgotten Artists – Barefoot Jerry

Founded in Nashville in 1971, Barefoot Jerry recorded six albums before calling it a day in 1977. None of them achieved great commercial success, but together they represent a body of work rivalled by few of their contemporary seventies country-rock/Southern rock bands. The first three albums in particular are classics of their genre.

Wayne Moss worked as a studio and session musician during the 1960s, playing on records by amongst many others, Roy Orbison, The Monkees, Mickey Newbury and Dolly Parton. Most notably though, he is credited on Bob Dylan’s ‘Blonde on Blonde’ album. In 1969 he brought together some of Nashville’s finest session players to form Area Code 615, best known for ‘Stone Fox Chase’ which became the theme tune for the BBC’s ‘Old Grey Whistle Test’. After two excellent albums the band split. Moss and singer/guitarist Mac Gayden then formed Barefoot Jerry.

Barefoot Jerry’s 1971 debut album ‘Southern Delight’ is a minor classic, Gayden wrote and sang on the majority of the songs. Indeed it was during early band rehearsals at Gayden’s Smoky Mountains home that the band got its name. Barefoot Jerry was an old-time fiddle player who ran a local store down the road from Gayden’s home; the band was named after him. If Gayden was the dominant presence on the album, it didn’t last long. His departure from the band soon afterwards, marked the beginning of a revolving door that saw members come and go from the band on a regular basis. Founder Wayne Moss was the only member to play on all six of the band’s albums.

Moss from this point on was the sole driving force behind the band. The second Jerry album simply named ‘Barefoot Jerry’ was released the following year, followed by ‘Watchin’ TV’ in 1974. Both are excellent albums. However, being a band made up of jobbing musicians with other commitments, Barefoot Jerry hardly ever played live outside of their Nashville base. This almost certainly, restricted their ability to build a fanbase. Ironic then, that the only footage of them during their peak comes from French TV, when they did for once, venture out to promote their fourth LP ‘You Can’t Get Off With Your Shoes On’. The album was perhaps a bit patchy compared to its predecessors, but nevertheless contains some great music, not least the splendid title track.

‘Keys to the Country’ released in 1976, is arguably the bands least impressive work but does have its moments and is well worth a listen. After this slight disappointment and yet more personnel changes, you could be forgiven for concluding that the band were by this time on a downward curve. Not so; their final album ‘Barefootin”  saw something of a return to form. But still with only limited commercial success, and with great demand for him as a session musician, Moss then broke up the band. He has since occasionally reconvened it over the years for live performances, but no further recorded output has been released other than an excellent live album recorded in 1973, released in 2007

About Clint West 325 Articles
From buying my first record aged 10 and attending my first gig at 14, music has been a lifelong obsession. A proud native of Suffolk, I have lived in and around Manchester for the best part of 30 years. My idea of a perfect day would be a new record arriving in the post in the morning, watching Ipswich Town win in the afternoon followed by a gig and a pint with my mates at night,
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Martin Johnson

Great musicians playing great music and a lot freer and improvisational than in their day jobs. As always commercial success isn’t always a measure of how influential an artist is.