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The NFL Draft Is Coming to Music City. So, We Thought That Was a Good Time to Reach Out to NFL Player and Musician Joe Barksdale.

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Musician Joseph Barksdale is an American football offensive tackle who is currently a free agent. He was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He played championship caliber college football at Louisiana State University. Barksdale has also played for the St. Louis Rams, Los Angeles Chargers and Arizona Cardinals. At the suggestion of coach Jeff Fisher he picked up the guitar in recent years. With a practice regimen that mirrored his football dedication Barksdale has proved a quick study resulting in two albums including his latest - the stirring and impressive Electric Soul. We caught up with Joe in the lead up to the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville.

The NFL Draft Is Coming to Music City. So, We Thought That Was a Good Time to Reach Out to NFL Player and Musician Joe Barksdale.

MCN: Hi Joe. Congratulations on your new release. With two albums in two years you are certainly emerging as a prolific artist to watch. Yet, you are the first to point out that you are relatively new to this process. To use a football term you've quickly gone from rookie to veteran in terms of recording experience. What can you tell us about your approach to the studio this time around?

JB: I would say that the main difference was the focus of the project. I think with the first album I was trying to emulate other people and show that I was a competent musician. With this project, I was more focused on finding my own sound and making music that expresses my thoughts, feelings and emotions and kind of sets the stage for what is to come in the future. Kind of like world building.

MCN: Any fan of the gridiron game knows that it is very hard to succeed without drawing up a game plan. Are you following an outline to help you navigate the increasingly difficult and ever-changing music industry?

JB: Yes, the game plan is to make wise decisions and continue to have the ability to be flexible and to always stay true to my art. It may sound simple, but some of the most effective plans are.

MCN: Let's talk about the new album. First off - you've decided to give this one away for free?

JB: Yes, that's because its an EP and people usually don't charge for EPs. As I stated earlier it is just a seed and a small representation of where I am headed musically.

MCN: There is quite a convincing combination of rock, soul and R&B on the half dozen songs on "Electric Soul". Do you see yourself mining a particular genre for a while? Are you open to exploring other musical territories down the road?

JB: No, I feel like if I wanted to mine one particular genre then I would not be able to make a case for people to listen to my stuff over people that have already done that genre. I am all about doing new things and going in directions that people have never gone in before. That way it will always be fresh, and exciting for the listener. I am creating my own musical territory.

MCN: Guitar is a physically demanding instrument and even by NFL standards you are a big guy. It almost seems as if a regular guitar in your hands could feel like a ukulele. Has your size in comparison to the instrument provided any advantages or limitations as far as you can tell in your quest to become a master?

JB: No. In fact, because of my hand size I am able to play chords and things in different ways that the average person is not able to. The only difference between a limitation and an advantage is the perspective of the owner of the trait, if that makes sense.

MCN: I've actually previously interviewed several athletes who made the transition to career musician. To become a world class figure in any sport requires dedication and commitment. How did playing football prepare your for playing guitar?

JB: It taught me the effort and dedication that it takes to be great at something that you love, and also the various sacrifices that come with that.

MCN: For musicians and athletes there are benchmarks along the way to help you track your achievement. You were a member of the BCS Championship winning LSU Tigers in 2008. What dreams do you have for your musical efforts?

JB: To be a game changing visionary that takes the music into a different direction and tours the world and helps heal hearts and communities with the message of love and togetherness.

MCN: You have definitely cited Jimi Hendrix as one of your guitar heroes and there is certainly no shortage of impressive six stringers these days. Are there modern players that impact you in a similar manner like the one they call the Master of the Stratocaster did?

JB: The biggest modern influence that comes to mind is John Mayer. Gary Clark Jr. is also another one.

MCN: Joe, the sport of American Football has definitely lagged behind in terms of becoming ubiquitous and more popular on the world stage. But, in 2019 that all seems to be finally changing. Do you have any opinions or observations about the growth of the game on a global level?

JB: No. I don't really put much time into sports outside of the time that I use to perfect my own craft and make myself a better asset to the team in order to help them win. Anything outside of that doesn't really concern me.

MCN: Joe, all of Nashville is extremely excited for the NFL Draft this month where musical dreams and gridiron aspirations are set to collide and converge. Any words of advice for the new players set to join the league - and all the hopeful musicians who will be providing the soundtrack to the picking process this year?

JB: Stay humble and you will continue to succeed.


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