Jack Barksdale Is An 11-Year-Old Blues Man

Jack Barksdale is only 11.
Jack Barksdale is only 11. Scott Cook
"Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues / And you know it don't come easy," Ringo Starr sang in his 1971 hit, but one blond, long-haired Weatherford musician knows better. Jack Barksdale runs his own video web series, has been on stage with Ray Wylie Hubbard and recently released his four-song EP Revival.

He's 11.

Barksdale began his musical journey with “Give My Love to Rose” by Johnny Cash when he was just 7 years old. It was the first song he learned to perform, but now he sports a repertoire of at least 80 songs and can easily rock through a three-hour set. He plays guitar, mandolin and four other instruments, allowing him to play all the parts in three of the songs on his EP.

He sports many hats, but he considers himself a songwriter above all.

To date, this latest release is the best representation of the many artists who inspire Barksdale, such as Cash, Willie Nelson and Hubbard. Barksdale says Revival is his way of paying tribute to the music these artists represent — music with real instruments and voices, great lyrics and soul.

And he's paid some dues too, even at his young age. The EP is in stark contrast with his 2017 single “My Mother,” a slow acoustic song about his mother’s battle with cancer. This single was folksy and soft-spoken with just his voice and his guitar. These songs include a rumbling ensemble of instrumentation behind his strong, forceful, pre-adolescent voice.

His current sound really began to take hold in his song “Widow of the Wind,” where you can hear Barksdale seemingly experimenting with his vocal range and the use of additional instruments. He inched closer with a third single this year called “I Hope I Make Her Happy.”

Taylor Tatsch, Audio Styles producer and musician, helped pull all of Barksdale’s ideas together and solidify his sound with his production work on Revival.

“I feel like Taylor did a really good job of being the producer and keeping my interests in mind,” Barksdale says.

On Aug. 22, Barksdale released the music video for the first track on his EP “Revival Song No.1.” In the video, the up-and-comer sways to the instrumental tune in a rustic rehearsal space playing an old organ, acoustic guitar, mandolin and snare drum. The video exemplifies the mass of skills he has accumulated.

Barksdale has no doubt set himself up for success. Between rehearsing, recording and performing, he also makes time for his video series Guitar Slingers. In each episode, he sits down with a different guitar player for a jam session, then asks his guest about their influences and the “best” lick they know how to play. A fourth episode has been shot and is soon to be released.

There is no shortage of time for Barksdale to leave his mark on the local music scene. He plays his EP release show Thursday, Sept. 13, at Fort Worth Live and then the Red River Folk Festival on Saturday, Sept. 20.
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn