by Susan Marquez
They may be called The Barefoot Movement, but, when I interviewed this energetic bunch, they all had on shoes. (Really cool shoes.) The Nashville-based group is as down-to-earth as one would imagine a group by their name would be. Their intention is for audiences to sit back, relax, and take their shoes off and stay awhile. And yes, they do sometimes kick off their shoes while on stage.
Their music ranges from emotional ballads to rip-roaring barnburners, with a little something for everyone. The “movement” can be traced back to the teen years of singer-
songwriter Noah Wall, the fiddler of thegroup. Noah hails from Oxford, North Carolina. Around the time she began to pen her first compositions during her senior year in high school, she met mandolin player Tommy Norris. The two clicked and they worked to build the band from the ground up throughout their college careers. Tommy studied classical music and recording engineering at Western Carolina University while Noah chose East Tennessee State, a school she chose due to the outstanding bluegrass, old-time, and country music program offered there.
The band continued to gel with the addition of guitarist and singer Alex Conerly of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and Katie Blomarz of Frankfort, Illinois on the upright bass. The group is the perfect line-up for the signature Barefoot sound: lush harmonies, thoughtful instrumentation, and memorable melodies.
The Barefoot Movement is no stranger to the recording studio. Footwork, Figures of the Year, The High Road EP and Live in L.A are all available via digital download. The Barefoot Movement Christmas Album is available on MP3.
And their newest album, Rise and Fly, with Bonfire Music Group, is now available on all music services. The album includes Looking Out My Back Door, a Credence Clearwater Revival classic, as well as Gram Parson’s Sin City. Something unique about the Rise and Fly project is that the band is releasing 300 limited edition vinyl records, available for order on their Facebook page. Each album cover will be signed by the band.
Rise and Fly was produced by veteran record producer Chuck Plotkin, who has produced projects for big-name artists including Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan.
The group spends a lot of time on the road together, which is something they all enjoy.
“We get along really well,” says Noah. “We enjoy each other’s company.”
They have done many cross-country tours together, making appearances at some of the top bluegrass festivals in the United States. They have also traveled to Burkina Faso, Africa where they were guests of the American Embassy, and their talent has been recognized by the International Bluegrass Music Association. At the September 2014 IBMA conference, The Barefoot Movement with the Momentum Award naming them “Band of the Year.” Their original music was featured on the Outdoor Channel’s program Huntin’ the World: Southern Style and their music video for their popular song Second Time Around has been seen nationally on the Zuus Country Network.
Many other accolades have been bestowed up the group, but they don’t let that go to their heads. “We just enjoy what we are doing,” says Tommy. The group has been together for over seven years now and sees many more years together in the future. “When you find something that works,” says Katie, “you stick with it. We are still evolving and growing as a group, but we have found our own style and it really works for us.” While paying homage to the origins of the traditional bluegrass sound, The Barefoot Movement has created their unique sound that feels as though it has always existed. Comfortable and confident on stage, they connect with audiences wherever they play.
Sadly, during the Coronavirus pandemic, all their shows through the end of May have been canceled, but they are working hard to reschedule them for later in the year. However, they didn’t disappear altogether. Since March, they have been streaming every Saturday at 8 pm CST on their YouTube channel. They call the show The Barefoot Movement Variety Show, and in addition to their music, the band members’ personalities all shine through in a fun way. There is live music, video premieres, and conversations among the band members, who, like everyone else, have been quarantined in their homes.