Louis Barabbas is a writer, performer and label director, best known for caustic love songs and energetic stage shows.
He is also a member of Un-Convention, occupies a seat on the Musician’s Union Live Performance Committee, is one of the moderators at Tom Robinson’s Fresh On The Net resource, presents a weekly show on Fab Radio International and is an occasional mentor for Brighter Sound.
His performance career began in the Captive Audience Theatre Company but later switched to music as harmonica player for a number of bands spread across the genre spectrum (including performances with members of Freddy & The Dreamers, The Holmes Brothers, The King Blues and The Dole Queue). For two years he was a fifth of rock outfit The Derelicts and earned the moniker “the hairy Bez of blues harp” for his unpredictable onstage antics. After the band split he moved to Philadelphia and recorded with Dr. Dog (credited as Harmonica John on the “Takers & Leavers” EP for Rough Trade) and subsequently returned to the UK with a headful of ideas drawn from the East Coast underground live scene.
In 2006 he turned front-man and formed Louis Barabbas & The Bedlam Six. To this day the group has played all over the world, sharing the stage with such disparate acts as Motorhead, Supergrass, The Blockheads and Sun Ra’s Arkestra.
Realising that unfashionable, genre-hopping groups such as his own could achieve success through sheer stubbornness he formed the label Debt Records with bandmate Biff Roxby, producer Dan Watkins and PR-man Chris Mitchell, an enterprise devoted to supporting exceptional touring artists that didn’t suit a traditional marketing approach (or indeed a comfortable lifestyle).
As well as The Bedlam Six, Louis has performed and collaborated with Kirsty Almeida, Liz Green, Hope & Social, Bridie Jackson, John Otway and Becca Williams. He is also the co-author (with Richard Barry and Alabaster dePlume) of the musical “Dead At The Cafe Styx” (nominated for a 100star Pick Of The Fringe award in 2008). Away from music he is a mentor with Brighter Sound (based at Band On The Wall, Manchester) and gives lectures about working in the creative industries (including a tour of Mexican schools and universities with Gibraltarian playwright Jon Bonfiglio), particularly on the subject of creative entrepreneurship and sustainability. He also writes the blog Keyhole Observations (about the peculiar balancing act of an independent music practitioner) and occupies a position on the Advisory Board for Un-Convention, a series of music events aimed specifically at the grass roots of the industry, bringing together like minded individuals to discuss the future of independent music.
In addition to his own work Louis has contributed to the books “Mancunians And Music: Tales Of The Underground, The Internet and the Manchester Music Scene 1998-2011″ (Raquel Moran 2011), F**k The Radio, We’ve Got Apple Juice: Essays On A Rock & Roll Band” (Miranda Ward 2012), “The 360 Deal” (Andrew Dubber 2013) and 33RPM Voices of the Revolution (Ruth Daniel 2014); plus magazines NARC, Echoes & Dust, Now Then and Louder Than War, as well as being involved in educational events organized by the British Council, Soundbytes and Manchester’s School of Sound Recording (among others). In 2014 he joined the team at Fab Radio International to present the weekly Monday night Debt Records Show.
In 2012 he was nominated for the Independent Entrepreneur Award by the Association of Independent Music (AIM) for his work with Debt Records and Un-Convention.
Louis passionately believes in the unifying force of music – that good songs have the power to educate, entertain and console. One day he hopes to write one that does all three.