It's rarely easy to forge a career out of a passion. Most professional musicians know this all too well. Making a living off what you love is a grind -- unless you love hedge funds. In which case, you have other problems.
But Phil Barnes doesn't mind the adversity. A native of Fort Lauderdale, Barnes has been making a living off his music now for almost a year. Last July, the singer/songwriter dropped out of FAU, where he studied business and psychology for two years, to pursue music full time.
It was the sudden death of his brother that made Barnes hand in his withdrawal slip to FAU. After being hit by a drunk driver at the age of three, Barnes' brother was left mentally and physically handicapped, in and out of hospitals for most of his life. Last June, he passed away at the age of 23.
"He went in for a normal surgery, and he didn't come out of it," Barnes remembers. "I couldn't pretend anymore that I wasn't going to do music one day. It was inevitable."
Since then, Barnes hasn't looked back. He threw himself into the local music scene headfirst. He's now a resident musician at Bull Bar in Delray, where he plays every Tuesday from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m..
A year ago, Barnes approached the city of Pompano about having a weekly songwriter night on the beach. "I wanted local songwriters in Pompano Beach and the surrounding cities to get paid for playing their music, and to help them make a living off it," Barnes says.
The city liked the sound of it, and gave him a contract. For almost a year now, Barnes has been hosting a songwriter night every Thursday at Atlantic and A1A, right across from right across from Franks Italian Ristorante & Pizzeria.
But making a living isn't the only thing Barnes hopes to accomplish from his music. He's also deeply involved with Musicians On Call, a charity that provides in-room performances for hospital patients. For the last four years -- anywhere from one to three times a week -- Barnes goes into local hospitals, guitar slung across his back, and plays for anyone who will listen.
Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, Holtz Children's Hospital, and South Miami Hospital are where he frequents.
"There's nothing like it," Barnes says. "The cool thing about music is you can take it into a room where someone probably just got the worst news they've ever received in their life, but when we go in there and shine a little light, it turns their day around."
Now, Barnes is hoping to take the next step in his career with the release of his latest single, "Way That You Dream."
Barnes will be hosting a release party at Bull Bar Tuesday, May 13, at 9:30 p.m., where he'll depart from his usual solo act and play with a band. He'll also perform at C&I Studios on May 31, for the Fat Village Art Walk.
Barnes is planning on touring the Southeastern US this summer, leaving the nest of Broward in search of fatter worms. Though, he'll be back eventually with some new project, idea, or song. So keep an eye out for him. Because Phil Barnes is a busy dude.
Listen to his newest single below, before you watch him play it at Bull Bar, 2 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach, Tuesday night.