Playing dual roles of husband to Rock Bottom Remainders founder Kathi Kamen Goldmark and brother to lead guitarist Dave Barry, Sam Barry brings an uncharacteristic credibility to the band. By day, he works for HarperOne, a division of Harper Collins. By night, he's a San Francisco musician with the all-star jam band Los Train Wreck, alongside his songstress wife.
Barry is also the author of How to Play the Harmonica: and Other Life Lessons and co-author with his wife of the soon-to-be-released Write That Book Already!: The Tough Love You Need to Get Published Now, a writer's companion complete with a forward by Dr. Maya Angelou. He and his wife also write a monthly column, The Author Enablers, for BookPage to offer advice and encouragement to aspiring authors. Barry is a regular performer on the national radio show West Coast Live.
Before he went on the road, we asked him these 20 questions.
1. What book had the biggest impact on you? Why?
Slaughterhouse Five. Vonnegut taught me that I didn't have to make sense of it all.
2. Have you ever read or written a perfect sentence? What was it?
"So it goes." From Slaughterhouse Five.
3. What was the oddest job you ever had?
I was a Presbyterian minister at a small church in Omaha, Nebraska.
4. How did you start playing music?
Music was in the air when I was growing up. My siblings Katy, Dave and Phil were musical; my dad worked in inner-city New York where a musical revolution was taking place—folk music, rock 'n' roll, gospel music. My sister taught me to sing. My brothers taught me to play. I picked up a harmonica and taught myself.
5. What would your theme song be?
"You Are My Sunshine."
6. What is your favorite food?
A good chocolate milkshake.
7. Which individual has, for better or worse, had the single greatest influence on your life?
8. What is your greatest career coup?
Getting that first job dishwashing job at Par's Steakhouse in Armonk, New York. Isn't the first one the hardest?
9. What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome or challenge you have ever faced?
Beating colon cancer.
10. What characteristic do you admire most in others?
Generosity of spirit.
11. What talent would you most like to possess?
I've always thought time traveling would be cool.
12. What is your favorite film?
To Kill a Mockingbird.
13. What inspires you most?
Unheralded, daily acts of kindness and generosity.
14. What is your greatest fear?
That I blew it.
15. What gives you hope about the world today?
The bravery of my children: my son, traveling the world and exploring other cultures; my daughter, working so hard at school with the goal of becoming a pediatrician someday; countless other similar stories of people working to build a better world.
16. What is one thing you have always wanted?
A time machine.
17. What is your most valued possession?
Certain cherished books; my harmonicas.
18. What is one book you've been meaning to read?
The Bible. One of these days...
19. What is your secret guilty pleasure?
20. How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who contributed more to the world than I destroyed.
Learn more about the Rock Bottom Remainders
What does Sam Barry say about the band?
Published on April 21, 2010