Tim Barry has never gotten good at anything 

Humble punk

Tim Barry is a modern folk-punk knight. You can imagine him in King Arthur's court. His weapons are a battered acoustic, which he wields with grace, and a poetic, everyman lyrical ken.

That focus is even more pronounced on his fine new disc 40 Miler, which hovers close to the ground throughout the fuck-it-all unemployed foreclosure ode "Bankers Dilemma," a harmonica-addled "Hobo Lullaby," and a self-indicting, tour-metaphor title track.

"I can't stand songs about writing songs, albums over 40-minutes long, and broke-up bands on a third reunion tour," Barry sings, throwing down his marker. "I'd rather stay broke and play fake-ass shows/Move with heart, sing from your soul."

As frontman for iconic Richmond, Va., hardcore punk combo Avail, he's a believer in the DIY ethos, and he's a "leave it on the stage because you might not be back tomorrow" kind of guy.

"There's not supposed to be longevity in music. You're supposed to retire when you're 25, and nobody is supposed to care," he says. "What's humbling is that I'm lucky enough to still do this. It's not that I'm a humble person. I'm just realistic. Every time I make a record, I don't know if it will be my last one. I want to go with the idea and the possibility these shows might be the last ones because it makes me feel that much more excited and lucky about the situation I'm in."

Barry considers himself a "40-miler," a term true railroad riders heap on the weekend thrill-seekers and train-hopping posers. He's critical of his own guitar playing and singing, suggesting, "I've never gotten good at anything." Beneath it is a subtle point: It's not about being good or the long haul, so long as it's done with spirit.

For Barry, playing music and connecting with an audience is a real fight-or-flight charge, particularly as a soloist without a wall of sound or mosh pit of fans to lean on.

"It's funny when you can call yourself on your own hypocrisy," Barry says. "But it's true, I don't like being the center of attention. [Playing solo] rattles my nerves so bad it's possible I'm addicted to being afraid. I stand on stage with a guitar and sing my freaky bullshit and really have a good time doing it."

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