It's generally assumed that when a musician ventures out on his own and takes a hiatus from his band, chances are it has to do with some combination of money and ego. But ask Paul Barrere why he and fellow guitarist Fred Tackett opted to take leave from their longtime group, Little Feat, and you get an entirely different, much more practical reason: "When I started getting treatment for hepatitis C almost two and a half years ago, I decided it was not a good thing to constantly be out on the road," Barrere explains.
Though Little Feat hasn't toured for three years, "for Fred and I, it's a lot easier. We go away for a weekend and then come back home. It means you don't have to ramp up a truck and tons of gear and 11 people," he says. "Instead of a traveling circus, it's just a couple of guys honky-tonkin'. It's a lot of fun, and we've been doing it since 1999, so it was just kind of a natural thing to fall back on."
After two treatments for the disease plus a tumor that was found during the procedures, Barrere attributes the duo's acoustic approach as a necessary scaling back, although he remains optimistic he'll overcome his health issues. "It slowed me down, but it didn't ground me to a complete halt," he insists of the condition. "I feel fortunate to have made it 67 years."
Barrere's fortuitous tenure with Little Feat also resulted in such staples as "All That You Dream," "Feats Don't Fail Me Now," and "Time Loves a Hero," among many other contributions to the group's canon. And while he didn't join the band until its third album, the soon-to-be-classic Dixie Chicken, Barrere shifted to the spotlight following the departure of Feat's chief guitarist, singer, and songwriter, Lowell George, who died from a heroin overdose shortly after the launch of his solo career. Little Feat took an eight-year hiatus but re-formed with some new recruits in the mid-'80s, beginning a second phase to its career that continues to this day.
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As a duo, Barrere and Tackett — who joined the band in its later-'80s incarnation — highlight another side of Feat's music, one that emphasizes the bluesier, folkier aspects of its funk-fueled approach. "It's kind of a neat change of pace from the rhythmic onslaught of the full band," Barrere says. "It almost makes the music the star, which is nice. It allows us to deliver the songs in a different fashion, so that the lyrics can really come through."
Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett
8 p.m. Friday, November 13, at Arts Garage, 180 NE First St., Delray Beach. Tickets cost $45 to $60. Call 561-450-6357.