Tag Archives: performance

Introducing Phil Barnes: The Interview!


Today, I was honored with the opportunity to interview a local talent, Phil Barnes, a musician that I had recently seen on the “Stripped” Tour which was launched by one of my all-time favorite bands, We the Kings. He has performed alongside some equally talented artists, including but not limited to Austin Mahone, Kelly Clarkson, and Jessie J! He has not only performed hundreds of shows in his time as a musician, but he has also managed to build his success from its very roots while still remaining humbled by his journey to stardom…. er…. more like stagedom.

If you’d like to check him out, navigate to PhilBarnesMusic.com for updates on future concerts, to access his online merch store (the shirts are pretty nifty if I do say so myself!), and much more. Without further ado, here’s our one-on-one interview.

Mandy: “What got you started on music in the first place? Was it a skill you developed from watching someone else, or was it something you pursued on your own?”

Phil: “I watched some of my friends pick up the guitar when I was around 13, and I thought, “man, this is SO cool.” So I got one soon after and started watching YouTube videos of artists I loved then taught myself the chords they were playing.”

Mandy: “At the time, which artists were you looking to for that extra push to move forward in your music career?

Was there a specific genre of music that guided you into the musical direction you’ve found yourself in, or were there several that compiled into your current style?”

Phil: “I’ve gotta tell you, I’m looking to a lot of my friends. Emily Kopp and Wes Harllee are fantastic songwriters and performers who I’m lucky enough to have in my phone book. Mainstream-wise, I look to Ed Sheeran for his grind, John Mayer for his musicality, and a ton of hip-hop acts for phrasing. I think hip-hop acts, along with jazz-cats, have incredible concepts of timing and word placement. I try to bring those elements into my side of the field.”

Mandy: “So your music is essentially a compilation of all of those elements, brought together in a single style. The fact that you’re surrounded by so many talented people must be such an incredible motivator to continue to advance your own musical career, but it can be intimidating at times, I’m sure, to be standing side by side with artists that have been established for many years prior to your own career.

How do you personally maintain your confidence in the ever-changing, growing music industry?”

Phil: “It can definitely be intimidating. But as an artist, you get the immense liberty to be yourself and I think as difficult as it may be, it can be reinforcing to know that you get a stage to be yourself on. That time on stage is my favorite part of the day. And the confidence just grows as you keep on. Being in front of a mic starts to feel like home.”

Mandy: “I commend you for having such a strong presence on stage. That was part of the reason I enjoyed your performance so immensely last night at Culture Room during the “Stripped” Tour. You manage to exhibit your personality in such a genuine way, which is difficult to do, especially if you’re someone like me who finds being on stage to be a daunting experience.

How did you overcome the initial jitters of being on stage?

What was your first experience as a musician in the spotlight like?” 

Phil: “Ah, thanks! First experience on stage… wasn’t much of a stage as much as it was the corner of a Starbucks. Haha. But I was as nervous as could be. Shaky-voice, shaky-hands and all. But I got through it and people still wanted to come out to another show. I think what builds confidence is just continually doing something that scares the hell out of you.”

Mandy: “Transitioning from a Starbucks to a venue like the Culture Room is such a massive step up. We all start somewhere though, right? It must’ve been a dream to be able to display your talent in such a large-scale way next to none other than We the Kings.

What has your experience with touring been like?

Do you have a favorite venue that you’ve performed in so far that you’d potentially want to return to?”

Phil: “Exactly! The manager, Patti, at that Starbucks was so kind to let me set up my gear and do that. Touring has been a blast – there’s nothing better than getting to see a new city or hitting a new coffee shop every day and getting to meet new fans so often. If I get a little extra time before I show, I try to visit a restaurant that the folks at the venue are raving about it hit a coffee shop for a bit. There’s a venue up in Nashville called the Listening Room that I always love to play. Great crowd. Great room. Great sound. And I’ve gotta show love for the Culture Room. Such a cool spot and I’ve seen all of my favorite artists there.”

Mandy: “I could imagine that getting to visit new cities is a major plus as a musician, especially getting to meet your fans! It must be so humbling for you.

How would you say touring has affected your personal life away from music? What are the pros and cons of being on the road?”

Phil: “It’s definitely an adjustment being on the road – but I feel very comfortable with it as of right now. I really enjoy being piled up in a van or flying solo in my Ford Focus, as odd as it sounds. Haha. Not so much a con, but sometimes it’s tough to get used to a super, super tight schedule when you travel. Every so often, we’re grabbing two hours of sleep after a gig and driving 12 hours to the next one, straight into load-in and sound check. For the pro-side, my girlfriend goes to the University of Alabama, and since the majority of my touring is currently through the South, on the off-days I’ll shoot over to Tuscaloosa and spend some time with her. That’s definitely a plus.”

Mandy: “Thank you so much, Phil, for taking some time out of your day to answer my questions! I wish you all the best in your future endeavors as a musician and look forward to hearing more music from you in the future! Keep doing what you love, and the opportunities will continue to follow! Thanks again!”

I hope you guys enjoyed my interview with Phil Barnes! If you’d like to know more about this incredible artist (I insist you get on that), go ahead and give him a follow.:



xo Amanda Cramer


“Stripped Tour”, Meet Culture Room! – Starring Phil Barnes and We the Kings


We arrived early and were lucky enough to make our way to the middle of the venue, just five people from the front. The bottoms of my feet were starting to ache from my heeled leather boots, but I shook off the feeling to maintain my place in the crowd. If any of you have been to an intimate venue, you know that it’s almost impossible to retain a spot if you leave for a moment. The concert go-ers were packed like sardines, and I had to wonder whether it was a hand or someone’s chest rubbing up against my back.

After thirty minutes or so of listening to some pretty vintage bands that I can honestly say I’ve never heard (for good reason), the lights began to flicker. The crowd was growing restless and you could feel the excited energy growing as we awaited the performance. I was under the impression that the show would strictly be We the Kings, but was pleasantly surprised by the stage entrance of an artist I had never seen or heard before: Phil Barnes.


At first impression, he was handsome. Well dressed, a little scruffy, and it was apparent that, unlike many other music artists, he was humble even when on stage, in the spotlight. He began to strum, and suddenly the whole venue fell in silence. The warmth he brought to the stage could be felt for miles. He captured our attention and, despite everyone initially coming to the show to see We the Kings, cultivated a new group of diehard fans, me being one of them. However, I did have to roll my eyes from time to time between songs, as the rest of the crowd was still focused on the fact that he was attractive. “You’re hot!” they’d shout, laughing amongst themselves. His performance had me absorbing and internalizing the lyrics, swaying and singing along. I don’t think We the Kings could’ve ever had a better preliminary performance. Phil Barnes is a talent worth recognizing.

Shortly after, We the Kings made their way to the stage. This has been about the sixth time I’ve seen them live, but this time around, I would have to say, was better than the other performances I’ve seen by them. Three of the guys in the band, Charles Trippy, Danny Duncan, and Travis Clark, have YouTube channels which they essentially post their entire lives on, documenting each day through their vlogs. From watching these videos, you see the kind of friendship they have amongst themselves. The intimacy of the venue and the small-scale show cultivated their humor in a way that I had yet to see beyond their channels. It wasn’t just their music. The audience got to see the kind of people they were. Their silly jokes, banter amongst themselves and toward the crowd, and the awkward moments when the rain stick took the stage and blew everyone out of the water. I was so moved by the music that I only noticed the uncomfortable bruised feeling on my soles once I was able to make my way back to our car. You know it’s a good show when you forget that you’re in pain!


My favorite moment in their set was when Travis Clark took to the piano in his poem/song about living your life, called “Is This the End?”. I was immediately drawn to his passion and emotional connectedness toward the lyrics. Even from the audience, I could feel the strength of his words. The piece deviated immensely from their general musical style, but I think that the deviation was an immensely positive one and I definitely think they should explore that style of expression in future pieces.

The dynamic that the band has when they’re together is something that many individuals, including me, would desire to have in their lives and even more so in their careers. They have friends for life within their group, a mutual desire for a larger, shared purpose, and I think that having that kind of family away from your own family is crucial to a fulfilled life. I could only hope that one day I could have a group of people that I could consider my own family as well, a group that supports and cultivates the same aspirations as forcefully and passionately as they do! I also thought it was incredibly admirable that they made the choice to do a “stripped” tour, a completely acoustic set, and traveled as lightly and minimally as they did on their very first musical tour. With a band as big as theirs, it’s important to acknowledge the roots from which they grew their career, and I believe that is a key to their success. They’re still willing to show their fans that they appreciate them and to express gratitude towards the support they’ve received from the start. Thank you, We the Kings, for bringing us back to where it all began once more. The nostalgia was worth every moment.

What was your take on the “Stripped” Tour?
Comment below!

Let’s Get WARPED!: A Relatively Small Review of a Monumental Day at Warped Tour 2014 in West Palm Beach, FL!


Sidenote: I apologize for the time I’ve spent away from blogging. I’ve missed it intensely, but with Finals Week and working for the majority of my days, I feel like my brain has been on lockdown (that calendar up there? Yeah, that’s how I felt!). Yes, writing requires a brain, and no, when I’m tired, I cannot write. Writing can’t be forced. I know you’ve missed me immensely (I kid, but some of you said you have, so I’ll take your word on that!), and I’ve freakin’ missed you, too, so I’m glad that everything is finally settling again so I can continue to do what I love!

So let’s get to it. My personal, relatively brief review of Warped Tour 2014 at West Palm.


Yesterday (July 26th, 2014), I attended Warped Tour 2014 in West Palm Beach, Florida for what felt like the millionth time! I’ve been legitimately going to Warped Tour for 10 years of my life and have never been disappointed. Not the rain nor the lightning I’ve experienced, the kick in the head that I endured from a crowd surfer, the rubbing of my sweaty clothes pasted to my skin with mud and dirt and whatever else I had accumulated from moving from one stage to another, the period-blood-covered bathroom stalls, or the large-and-in-charge, sweaty men in the crowds rubbing their sticky moobs on my back could ever make me love Warped Tour any less. Actually, believe it or not, all the crap that comes with it makes it a million times better. It’s grimy, sweaty, expensive, and busy beyond belief (running from one stage, to a meet and greet, to the next stage is like running a marathon, weaving through thousands of people walking at a crawling speed), but I count the minutes down until I can come back again. Nothing is like Warped Tour. I’ve fallen into such a deep, passionate love with Warped Tour that I don’t think any man could match up (again, just kidding, but it is rad). I’m committed to this heavenly experience.


As you probably already know, I am a huge fan of the alternative-rock band, We the Kings, so they were responsible for a great deal of the excitement I had in going to Warped this year. I’ve seen them around 5 or 6 times live, even back when they were a somewhat smaller, less known band playing at Revolution in Fort Lauderdale, and they have always put on an exceptional performance. They were one of the first performances that I saw yesterday, as they had been put on the early side of the schedule. I had managed to strategize that, if I got to the front or close to the front during Breathe Carolina (which was also a million times better than I expected, because I had not seen them live before!) which was the performance that preceded them, that I would be able to glue myself down in the front during the We the Kings performance. So I shoved some elbows in peoples’ faces (sorry, I’m too excited for my own good) and apologized incessantly for doing so, and got close enough to basically feel Charles’ breath. Mhmm creepy. But I was close. If there were rows in the very front (in the standing area in front of the main stage at Cruzan Amphitheater), I would’ve been in around the second row. Their performance started with all of the band members coming out, one by one,  surrounded by their friends and family on stage, which I thought was really sweet and humble of them. It’s so great to see them perform after watching all of the band member’s vlogs on Youtube for so long. At that point, you feel as if you know them much more than you actually do. The crowd was entranced by the music and I certainly wasn’t excluded from this. I adored every single sweaty moment, jammed in the front so tight that I couldn’t bring my arms down in between songs (it felt like arms day). I ended up catching a guitar pick from Colie at the performance, which left me explosively happy and bubbly. I had been wanting a pick or drum stick since the first time I saw them perform so this was a major concert milestone. I was elated. The whole performance was phenomenal. The only thing I was legitimately disappointed about was that I did not meet a single band member this time around. I was looking forward to meeting Danny and Lindsay or Charles and Allie, but I think I might’ve come to the tent too late. Maybe I’ll run into them next time around.


I did, however, finally get to meet the genius behind “Art of War” one of We the King’s more recent songs and one of my all time favorite songs, Taylor Clark. He is the equally talented and awesome brother of Travis Clark, the frontman of We the Kings. He was very sweet and I felt awful for knocking him off guard like I did. When I saw him, I practically jumped right into conversation mode, asking for a picture and talking his ear off I assume. He was very handsome and kind enough to let me stop him up while he was heading in the opposite direction, but that definitely contributed to the happiness of my day. (I can’t even fathom how I look “clean” in this picture. This was taken in the middle of the Florida heat, midday, so that’s an accomplishment in itself!)


Another performance that I found to be notable was the performance by the reggae-rock band, Pacific Dub. They’re not as large as some of the other bands, but their stage presence is incomparable. The combination of the vocals and the instruments, the energy of the band members, and the reactions of the crowd was incredible. They had such a happy, mellow presence. I had met them after the show to tell them about how great their set was, and I ended up getting a few extremely photogenic pictures with them and had a lengthy conversation with the lead vocalist of the band, Colton Place. He exuded charm and charisma. They were all really chill, humble guys, and were happy to sign merch and meet with their fans. It was refreshing to see a band that was as personable as they were and I have the full intention of seeing them again soon (perhaps when they come up to Orlando?). Their second impression on me was just as good as their first.


Later, I headed back to the main stage to check out Yellowcard because I had been listening to them significantly more lately and managed to learn all of their most popular songs while away at college (it’s a process to learn even the most popular ones!). I had all the words ready to be sung! I thought their performance was great at the least, however I felt like they had implemented some negative energy really early by calling people out for being tired during their show. It’s an all-day concert. The people who attend Warped Tour, unlike the ones who perform and can slip back into their air-conditioned buses when they need to, are stuck outside all day. I’m not complaining about being outside for the concert because I enjoy that aspect, but I thought it was out of line to bring that kind of negativity into the show. It shouldn’t bother bands that much if some people in the audience are tired after an entire day of running back and forth between stages, and it doesn’t bring new fans to the stage if one of the first statements that come out of a band member’s mouth is that these people should “get to the back so the real fans can come forward”. Get a grip. It left a bad taste in my mouth for the rest of the set.


Despite the little things that bugged me, I found the whole experience of Warped Tour this year to be just as enchanting as the ones before it and I urge all of you music lovers to give Warped a go if you haven’t already. This tour provides so many opportunities to see a multitude of bands with different music styles in a comfortable, low-key environment. The bands are often walking around amongst the crowd (which doesn’t happen often in other venues or tours) and there’s so much to check out while on foot. They have a ton of merch tents manned by band members, pretty decent food for such a busy venue (it’s still a little on the pricey side, but I’m used to bringing my own food), and open areas to roam and watch the bands. I’d have to say that this year’s tour was in my top five of the ten years that I’ve gone. Until next year, my love!


Did you attend Warped Tour 2014?

What were your thoughts?