38 Special
38 Special
In the 1980s, wild-eyed Southern boys of 38 Special ruled the radio airwaves and filled the cruising strip of downtown Van Wert. Songs like “Rockin’ Into the Night,” “Hold On Loosely,” “Caught Up in You,” “If I’d Been the One,” “Back Where You Belong,” “Wild-Eyed Southern Boys,” “Fantasy Girl,” and “Teacher Teacher,” set the background of the ’80’s on nearly every college campus and high school dance party.

After multiple platinum albums and legendary career success, Lead singer, Don Barnes, is now the sole remaining original member of 38 Special and he is still Rockin’ Into The Night. Don set much of the style and tone of the Southern Rock band that was also influenced by Southern Gospel.

“My dad was the music director in a church when I was a kid. There were some songs he’d sing – Baptist hymns – if you listen to ‘Has There Ever Been a Good Goodbye,’ it’s a real gospel melody, a nod to those melodies in church.”

Forty-five years of 38 Special have given Barnes an appreciation of the struggle, a perspective of the world, and a realization of his place in it.

“It’s those instant reactions of the people who come to our shows, the tears in the eyes from reminders of someone they may have lost, or a special time in their life,” Barnes said. “People are singing along. Let me tell you, it’s the greatest job to bring that kind of joy to people every night.”

Don Barnes’s voice is integral to the 38 Special sound. Here’s how he has managed to keep it in such good shape after all these years.

“After the show, people tell me they can’t believe I’m even talking after a 90-minute show. I learned to sing correctly back in seventh grade. Greg Allman told me to sing like someone is about to punch you in the stomach. It hardens up your diaphragm, and it keeps a lot of the energy down there, and you don’t blow a lot of the air out of your larynx, which is something that can be worn out. You hear a lot of guys who sang from their face over the years and did it well, but they’re burnt out today because there’s too much air pushing on it (larynx). It’s worn out. So it’s a little bit of a Zen thing. You center it all the way down there. Like, I know on “Fantasy Girl,” there are parts coming up that are going to be high (sings lyric “I see clearly a vision…” ), and I actually don’t push. I relax more and put it down there in my gut. I’ll also tell you a little secret. There’s this product called Entertainer’s Secret. A bus driver who used to be a DJ told me to try it. What it does is, as you spray, you breathe in and it gets right on the vocal cords and moisturizes them to simulate natural body fluids. So I’ll have my mug of tea between songs, and I have the little bottles of it taped to the side of the mug. I’ll just give it a little spray, and go out and do another song. I should get an endorsement. I’ve given it to Tommy Shaw (Styx), and Kevin Cronin (REO Speedwagon) and friends of mine. It’s not like a miracle, but it’s like steam; it rejuvenates and revitalizes you.”

Legendary Don Barnes, along with keyboardist/vocalist Bobby Capps, drummer Gary Moffatt, bassist Barry Dunaway, and guitarist Jerry Riggs, will bring their energy-filled performance to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on Sunday, Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m.