After meeting at a Sonoma County open mic in 2008, Josh Barrett and Brianna Lee knew immediately that they wanted to write music together. A bassist and composer, Josh was struck by Brianna’s vocal and songwriting talent; Freshly returned from Nashville, where she’d recorded with producer and songwriter Phil Madeira (Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello) Brianna was ready to take her songwriting to the next level. She found the perfect foil in Josh, who’d amassed years of musical experience, most notably three years playing in a band with guitarist Jimi Macon (The Gap Band, Sly and the Family Stone, James Brown), an experience that taught him multitudes about the music business. “I learned the ropes from Jimi,” says Josh.
The chance meeting between one girl and one boy has resulted in a fruitful musical partnership that grows by the day. Girls and Boys released their first album in October 2011, the impeccably produced The Feel of the Sun. Recorded in top studios around the Bay Area over the course of two years, The Feel of the Sun is filled with emotional, intricately woven songs that conjure feelings of loves lost and found. Featuring Mark Tarlton (drums) and Victor Relli (guitar), both long-time bandmates of Josh, the album’s melodies are driven home by a rhythm section that’s played together for more than 10 years.
Girls and Boys have performed in venues across [Northern] California, including Hopmonk Tavern, Arlene Francis Center, Aubergine Bar, Toad in the Hole Pub and the Last Day Saloon. This has led to the band being voted Best Indie Band in the North Bay Music Awards. Thanks in part to promoter KC Turner, who said of Girls and Boys on his New Music Monday blog, “Be prepared to get goosebumps,” they’ve played regularly in San Francisco, with shows at the Hard Rock Cafe, Red Devil Lounge Cafe Du Nord, the Park Chalet in Golden Gate Park, and in the Fillmore’s legendary Poster Room.
The summer brings more exciting news for Girls and Boys. After Jimi Macon (Gap Band, James Brown) passed a copy of The Feel of the Sun to a producer in Los Angeles, the band is happy to announce that four songs have been chosen for the soundtrack of the upcoming film Divorce Invitation, a comedy starring Jamie Lynn Sigler, Elliot Gould and Paul Sorvino, which debuts at the Cannes Film Festival and in theaters in 2012. The rollicking, honky-tonk song, “Scratch and Scream,” is the featured song in the movie, backing up an extended montage.
With shows planned for up and down the West Coast and a second album in the works, Girls and Boys is a band that’s moving forward fast. “We just want to get out there and play, play, play,” they say. Brianna recently quit her day job in order to focus on what she and Josh love best: the songwriting process. “It’s what drives us,” says Brianna. “It’s the only thing that we want to strive for everyday. The music keeps me going. When he comes up with something, I want to sit down and write to it for three hours. It’s magic, an indefinable chemistry.”
Girls and Boys strive to play soulful and nourishing music straight from the heart. “Music is a code for human emotions,” says Josh. “And feelings and emotions are two of the big things in and for our music.”