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About Paul Barsom

Originally from Alabama, Paul probably started his musical life at age four by listening to his older brother play and sing "House of the Rising Sun" and other songs on his gold and black Harmony Hollywood guitar.  His first definite act on that inspiration wasn't until age twelve, when he summoned the courage to go next door (he'd just moved into the neighborhood) to ask who it was playing the hell out of the drums upstairs there.  That led him directly to learning bass guitar, singing, songwriting, piano lessons and his first band (with Chris, the neighbor).  A further succession of bands and music school forced him, at age nineteen, to choose between the crazy but thrilling (and, at the time, cocaine-fueled) world of early 1980s rock or the more sedate and stable environment of academic music.  Having no idea how to make his way as a rock musician, he opted for stability (and the possibility of having a family, living to be thirty, etc.) over that chaotic existence. 

Despite choosing a career in classical music (as a composer and orchestral and chamber music bassist), he kept playing in bands as a bassist and singer (classic rock, rockabilly, prog rock, metal).  Eventually he returned to songwriting and performing, usually solo voice and guitar, his adopted second instrument.   After a long career writing for orchestras, wind ensembles, chamber ensembles, voice and solo instruments, he decided to retire from that world and return to his roots, performing the music he was raised on and writing new songs to perform and record.  Music for his solo project, The Weed Garden, can be found on all major streaming platforms and in his live shows.  He performs almost all the recorded parts (voice, guitars, basses, percussion, synthesizers, winds, piano, etc.) but enlists the help of drummers and others whose performance abilities (cellists and sopranos, for example) exceed his own.


His music is eclectic, reflecting a long love affair with music from all over the world and throughout history.  His influences are almost universal, spanning vernacular and classical traditions, including (in no particular order or emphasis) that of The Beatles, the Southern U.S., Igor Stravinsky, Mongolia, Johann Sebastian Bach, Black Sabbath, Japan, John Cage, Pacific Islands, Johannes Brahms, Arvo Pärt, Hank Williams, Robert Johnson, The Caribbean, George Crumb, Irving Berlin, Joni Mitchell, India, John Adams, Miles Davis, Pan-Africa, and more.  He says about his work: "I don't really work in a genre - I just write things.  And the chaotic path taken by my stylistically overstuffed intuition leads the music into odd corners, with strange juxtapositions of styles and topics.  Hopefully it's more metamorphic than aggregate, but sometimes the seams show."  That said, his chosen performance medium of voice and guitar loosely places his music somewhere in the rock /progressive/folk veins of western popular music but with unexpected flavors blended in.  He writes about hope, crazies, love, death, children, travel, friends, and swimming in still lakes under starlight, among other things.


In addition to being a musician he's a husband, father, dog lover, handyman, avid bicyclist and romantic and he loves funny, smart, empathetic people who care about the state of the world.  Favorite authors/books include Aldo Leopold/A Sand County Almanac, Mark Twain/Roughing It, Herman Melville/Moby Dick, Charlotte Beck/Everyday Zen and Henry David Thoreau/Walden.  Some favorite films are Doctor Strangelove, The Seven-Year Itch and Groundhog Day (yes, that one - can't help it).  Favorite places are desert mountains, seashores, central Pennsylvania (where he raised his children), and the richly diverse ecosystems (land, plants and animals) of the deep South where he grew up.  He enjoys sitting still, watching the world do its thing, especially the wild parts of it.  He csurrently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Susannah and his dog, Ben, who, as a nine week-old abandoned puppy wandering the streets, adopted Paul as his caregiver the first day he lived there.  The sunrise photo on this website was taken from his window.

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