American Aquarium frontman BJ Barham had a message for other aspiring musicians in the crowd as the Raleigh, N.C. band, played the BMI Stage early Friday afternoon. Stick it out through thick and thin, and "you too can play to 175 people at a music festival in Austin, Texas!"
Barham took the band’s early time slot in stride, performing like the well-traveled showman he has become over a decade of relentless touring with his alt-country bar-band mates. They may all be on "The Losing Side of 25," as one of their songs explains, but they’ve come out all right on the other side.
Barham, now actually on the other side of 30, even got married and is buying a house, and he said from the stage that he’s been sober for 13 months. Such even-keel balance puts him at odds with much of the material he wrote as the band was on the way up, but tunes such as "St. Mary’s," "Catherine Belle" and "Burn Flicker Die" still packed a punch, with pedal steel player Whit Wright a standout among a solid cast of country-rock instrumentalists.
"I wish my addictions didn’t mean so much, but we all can’t be born with that kind of luck," Barham sang on that last number. Maybe not born with it, but on a sunny afternoon at Zilker, it seemed Barham has made his own luck, in the end.