Manery bringing barn-burning brand to Bridge Bash

Scott Manery and The Barnburners are playing the Bridge Bash this weekend. Scott Mike Sexton Photography

Cathy Dobson

There are few big events in our area this summer where Scott Manery and The Barnburners aren’t playing.

The country trio has become a local fixture, playing together for 12 years and entertaining everyone from Ribfest crowds to this weekend’s Bridge Bash.

“We’re really lucky to be playing all the major events we can fit into our schedule,” says Manery. “This is the perfect market because, for me, it’s my hobby and I don’t have to go far to play my original music.”

Times are good for the 46-year-old Manery, who works maintenance at Shell Canada by day and brings his brand of twang and rockabilly to the stage by night.

As singer, songwriter and musician, he fronts one of the few local bands that plays primarily its own tunes, drawing from their four CDs.

“It’s nice because we’ve been around enough and WSAQ in Port Huron plays us enough that our own songs like “Spooky Old Alice” or “Green Tractors,” get requested, said Manery.

He has played guitar since he was eight and his late father Brian taught him to appreciate the steel guitar licks of Dwayne Eddy and country good old boy Waylon Jennings.

At university, where he studied theatre, Manery began writing his own songs.

“But I realized very quickly that music would be a hobby. There’s too much time and hard work required to make a go of it.”

He came home to Sarnia and joined his first band called Edith Grooves.

“We were into blues and rock,” he said.

Then came The 88s, followed by The Humbuckers. During his tenure with The Humbuckers he decided he was more suited to country and wanted to perform his own songs.

“So I started The Barnburners as a side project for my own writing,” said Manery. Bass player Dave Scarlett and drummer Brian Cox round out the band.

Success came quickly and the band regularly played Bayfest, opening for major country stars such as Brooks & Dunn, Toby Keith, Rascal Flatts, Lady Antebellum and Keith Urban.

“I’m proud to say we hold the record with five appearances at Bayfest,” said Manery.  “We sure do miss Bayfest. Any artist who tells you they don’t want to play in front of 20,000 people is lying.”

The band’s latest CD, “Believe Me When I Lie To You,” has been its fastest selling and several songs are being performed from it this summer.

Manery hesitates when asked about their style.

“I’d call us a cross between Dwight Yoakam and The Stray Cats, kind of brand new, old school country.”

This weekend’s Bridge Bash at Waterfront Park in Point Edward has special significance for Manery as no less than 31 of his extended family are expected at the show.

“It’s huge for me this year because it’s a Manery family reunion and a lot of my cousins have never heard me play except around a campfire,” he said.

The 2017 Point Edward Optimist Bridge Bash is on July 21 and 22 with food booths, a beer tent and a full slate of live entertainment. Cover is $5.

On Friday night, Life Signs is on at 8 p.m., then Southern Fryde Inc. at 9:45 p.m. and Gypsy Flats at 11:30 p.m.

Scott Manery and The Barnburners kick things off Saturday at 8 p.m., then Highway Jones at 9:45 p.m. and Chain Reaction at 11:30 p.m.

The Bridge Bash is a Point Edward tradition that coincides with the Mackinac sailboat race and Rotary Pancake Breakfast, served under the bridges starting Saturday at 7 a.m.

The Arts Journal highlights Sarnia’s cultural community. Please forward your ideas to cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca or call 226-932-0985.