Raised in Norfolk and heavily influenced by earlier Norfolk singers such as Walter Pardon, and Peter Bellamy, Damien is a stylish and distinctive singer, either a capella or accompanied on guitar or concertina.
Best known in recent years for his critically acclaimed stage shows ‘The Demon Barbers XL’ and ‘The Lock In’, Damien is now returning to the traditional songs of East Anglia that ignited his passion in folk music.
He is the epitome of a traditional folk singer, having learnt his trade directly from some most respected singers in the UK, and brings real authenticity to his performances.
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A proud Norfolk man and heavily influenced by such earlier Norfolk singers as Walter Pardon and Peter Bellamy, Damien is a stylish and distinctive singer, be it unaccompanied or alongside his guitar or concertina. Though he has now resided for some time in West Yorkshire, his roots remain firmly planted in his beloved East Anglia.
He was 5 years old when he was taken to the Orchard Gardens Folk Club in North Walsham, Norfolk, where his family lived and where many of the great English revival singers like Nic Jones, Dick Gaughan & Martin Carthy performed along with a few from further afield, including the legendary Uilleann piper Liam O’Flynn. He also began to absorb the styles and sounds of local singers such as Tony Hall, Peter Bellamy and most notable of all Walter Pardon. Walter was one of the last great Traditional singers of the region and, along with his weekly visits to the folk club, Damien was fortunate to listen to, and play with, Walter at his home before his passing in 1996.
Having begun playing the D/G Melodeon at the age of seven, mainly to accompany his dad’s singing and it took another 11 years before he turned to the English concertina.
Damien Barber’s career in folk music started 30 years ago when he became a finalist in BBC Radio 2’s ‘Young Tradition Award’ in 1989, an award he was invited back to take part in another four times over the next seven years.
In 1989 Peter Bellamy took Damien under his wing and began to ‘enlighten’ him to the wider world of traditional song, regularly sending him copies of albums of source singers from England, Scotland, Ireland and America. In 1991 Peter sadly passed away and the following year Damien was invited to perform in a memorial production of ‘The Transports’ at the Whitby Folk Festival, playing the part of Henry Cabell and singing harmony with Eliza Carthy.
In 1995 Damien moved to Co. Leitrim, Ireland and took up the C#/D Button accordion, reducing his time on tour in the UK and dedicating himself to playing with local musicians, then In 1998 he moved back to England, while living with Chris Sherburn & Denny Bartley, he took up the guitar as a form of rehabilitation following a car accident which damaged his left hand and resulted in the loss of his little finger.
In 2000 he formed The Demon Barbers, along with creating the ground-breaking Folk & Hip Hop dance company ‘Breaking Tradition’ in 2005 and forming his duo with long-time friend Mike Wilson in 2007.
We are really excited to welcome Damien to Watford for what will be an unforgettable evening with one of the finest exponents of Traditional Song in the United Kingdom.
“He plays a hell of a concertina and he’s got all the signs of being a strong, strong singer”. Peter Bellamy
“Damien Barber’s sound, style and presence combines the best of Peter Bellamy and Nic Jones” Dirty Linen