Barbaro to play Findlay’s Marathon Center

FINDLAY — Fall might be the perfect time of year for more than a few upcoming acts around the area, none more so than traditional Americana band Barbaro, which is scheduled to perform at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts in Findlay.

When Barbaro comes to town, they will bring what may first appear to be a bluegrass style to the stage, but it is all so different.

“We are an acoustic quartet that plays, we usually like to say, folk Americana, with some chamber influence,” said Kyle Shelstad, who plays guitar. “Two of the members of the band, Rachel and Jason (Calvert and Wells), who play fiddle and bass, they come from a big classical background. So Jason plays in a lot of symphonies around the Midwest. And Rachel grew up playing that kind of music. And so we take on a bit of a chamber vibe for lack of a better word. We’ve also been called bluegrass music, but if you are a bluegrass purist, you will strongly disagree with that. So we tend to take a little bit more of a thoughtful approach to the music. We spend a lot of time kind of crafting these tunes and finding each other’s parts and making sure that they kind of work off of one another. Anything from counterpoints to the melody with the violin or just different rhythmic textures that you wouldn’t traditionally find with an acoustic quartet.

While each member has come together to define the midwestern sound of the band, they started out pulling from their different tastes.

“So we had all played music in different ways,” said Shelstad. “I was in a band out of Montana for a while, and touring through the Midwest, I had met Isaac (Sammis) on banjo while he was playing a different band. Some years went by and I ended up moving to Minneapolis, where I hit up Isaac and I said, ‘Let’s start playing some tunes together.’ We had gone through a handful of different musicians with the group until we met Rachel and just invited her to come to play a show with us, and it was a really good fit. And then my roommate’s girlfriend is a cello player in Minneapolis and does a lot of chamber orchestra stuff. And said she knew somebody in that world that was looking to try and do something a little different. And so that’s when we met Jason and Jason kind of just showed up to our first get-together and basically knew the tunes better than we did. And so it was just a great fit there too. This whole unit probably came together in 2019. Right around us recording our first full-length album ‘Dressed in Roses.’ And it’s just a lot of fun. We all have a lot of different musical backgrounds. Rachel loves pop music. Jason loves R&B music. I love folk music and Isaac, the banjo player, loves bluegrass music. So we just kind of found a way in which these different influences and ideas and approaches to music can kind of fit together to create a cohesive sound.

What makes that sound unique is the care that Barbaro puts into it, down to the note.

“I think I think a big thing is every band is intentional,” said Shelstad. “But with a lot of what we do, every little bit of it has attention from either the way these tunes are structured to the way some of these banjo or violin melodies can be a little bit more on the nerdy side. But I think another thing that we really enjoy is breath and patience in music, not trying to rush into anything but really developing a sense of emotion to support the lyrics of the song.”

That sound is even going to lead Barbaro to countries on the other side of the world, through the American Music Abroad Program.

“It’s a program run by the U.S. State Department,” said Shelstad. “They work with embassies throughout the world and develop these tours through countries in which they’re trying to develop diplomatic relations that started in the 50s with some of the jazz greats who have gone around the world to do these cultural exchanges. And so we’re really excited about it. There are 10 bands selected out of 400 or so that applied. And so we get to tour through Turkey, Bulgaria and Qatar in May of next year.”

But until then, Barbaro is enjoying the niche it has started filling in the Midwest, especially in Ohio.

“They should be excited because we’re really excited,” said Shelstad. “We’ve been through Ohio a couple of times in the past, and we always really enjoy it. We meet a lot of great music lovers in the people that we meet there in the crowd, so we’ve played to have all been really respectful. But I think if you are looking for a musical experience, if you aren’t really looking to dance per se, but if you’re looking to come have a thoughtful, listening experience, I think you’ll really enjoy the show.”

And if you’re still looking for more of Barbaro after their performance, you will be in luck.

“Well, we are currently working on a new album as well,” said Shelstad. “That’s going to be coming out in fall of next year. We’ve been working with Brian Joseph on that. He’s an engineer and producer out of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He’s done work with Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens and Paul Simon. So we’re really excited about that we released an EP last year of cover tunes that benefits a local Minneapolis nonprofit supporting English learning for adult immigrants as well as housing and food resources, things like that.”


What: Barbaro in concert

When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13

Where: Marathon Center for the Performing Arts, Findlay

Cost: $15-50, available online at

Reach Jacob Espinosa at 567-242-0399.