Bill Noonan and The Barbed Wires at Smokey Joe’s Cafe


I caught Bill Noonan and The Barbed Wires at Smokey Joe’s Cafe in a late show last Friday night, following opener Sun Dried Vibes. Noonan was restringing his guitar when I made it there, telling me that he always ends up leaving it to do until just before a show.

The Barbed Wires’ music covers the ground between classic country and roots rock, with original songs and covers to please fans of both genres.

I asked Noonan, a long-time colleague and friend, his five questions via e-mail.

Q: What has inspired your songwriting lately – are there particular bands or artists that you find yourself going back to again and again or does the inspiration come from places outside of music?

Bill Noonan

I am on the lookout for inspiration wherever I can find it…listening to artists or genres of music that grab me is always inspiring…I tend to go on kicks with certain artists or styles…recently, for example: the Louvin Brothers, older bluegrass, Cajun/Creole, Doug Sahm, and proto-punk rock and roll have all been sources of inspiration. And yes, there are old faves I always return to. Outside of music, regional culture, history, changing seasons, landscapes, conversations and social interactions can all spur songwriting ideas.

Q: “Get Off Of My Land” is one of my favorites out of your songs. What’s the story behind this song?

That is one of those songs that pretty much wrote itself. For a number of years I lived way out in the country, in Cherokee County, SC, but still drove into Charlotte each day for work. You could see the changes on an almost daily basis…where what’s trying to be the city is starting to take over what used to be the country…and it’s changing the landscape and the old way of life in a good part of this region. That was a story I wanted to tell. Thinking about it over a period of weeks, the storyline just came together…the farmer/developer confrontation…around the line “get off my land”…which comes from the observation that when someone asks you to get off their property, they usually let you know they mean it.

Q: The Barbed Wires is truly a cast of characters. How did the band come together?

Chris Peace and Joe Williams

The band lineup has really just come together since the first of this year, with Lee Sharp (Leebo) coming on board on drums, and Country Bill (Walpole) back in the mix. Chris Peace is doing a great job on guitar and harmony vocals, and there is nobody more solid than JoeW (Williams) on bass. It’s a great bunch of guys, and everybody really loves to play, so we’re excited about the possibilities…so many tunes, so little time. Leebo and Joe have been playing around town forever, but our musical circles did not overlap until fairly recently. Chris was one of my guitar students back in the 80s, he played in Sugarsmack in the 90s, but then left music for quite a few years…we reconnected about the time my last CD came out 2 years ago. Country Bill has been one of my very best compadres for many years…he played with Lenny Federal and the Federal Bureau of Rock and Roll back in the day, and we had an act for a while in the early 00s called Country and Western Bill…we hadn’t done much together over the past couple years, so it’s great to have him back on board in the Barbed Wires.

Q: What do you want to accomplish next with The Barbed Wires?

We really enjoy playing out, so we’re looking to keep doing that…getting more visible locally, and maybe starting to get around a bit more far and wide. It’s also about time to do another record, and I can’t wait to get these guys in the studio.

Q: What do you see in store for music in Charlotte over the next year?

Lee Sharpe

From my little corner of the scene, things look pretty good. There seems to be more cross-pollination across musical circles happening, which I think is healthy. More people turning on to local music, and giving new/different acts and venues a chance is also a good thing.