.Points North Rocks Peri’s

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Instrumental rock trio lets the music do the talking on July 14. 

Instrumental music has been enjoying a resurgence thanks to pioneers such as Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Plini, Polyphia, Intervals, and more.

Unlike the genre’s diaspora, which sticks to a color-by-numbers formula and rarely deviates, Northern California’s own Points North has been stretching the genre’s boundaries by constantly exploring sounds outside of their collective wheelhouse. 

While the band has not been as prolific as its fans would hope, it did manage to release two compelling records on boutique label Magna Carta: their Self-titled offering (2015) and ‘The Road Less Traveled’ (2012). As evidenced on songs like “Child’s Play,” “Ignition,” and “Foxes & Cougars,” the trio is a live force in the studio as much as they are on the road. 

Additionally, they’ve been playing all over California and beyond, supporting the likes of Eric Johnson, Mr. Big, The Winery Dogs, King’s X, Yngwie Malmsteen, Al Di Meola, Allan Holdsworth (RIP), Steve Morse, Y&T. Paul Gilbert, Marty Friedman (ex-Megadeth), Richie Kotzen, The Aristocrats, UFO, Michael Schenker, Adrenaline Mob, Larry Carlton, Pat Travers (and as a backing band for The Pat Travers Band), Ronnie Montrose (RIP), Tom Keifer (of Cinderella), Gary Hoey, George Lynch (Dokken), Uli Jon Roth (Scorpions, Electric Sun, Sky Academy), Eric Martin Band, Mark Lettieri (from Snarky Puppy), Michael Lee Firkins, and Project N-Fidelikah (George Lynch, Angelo Moore, Pancho Tomaselli, Chris Moore). 

Today, the band is rounded out by guitarist Eric Barnett, drummer Kevin Aiello, and bassist extraordinaire Uriah Duffy, whose resume includes working with Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, Too Short, Sly & the Family Stone, and Starship. 

We met with guitarist Eric Barnett to find out about their upcoming show at Peri’s Tavern in Fairfax. 

Pacific Sun: You guys have been around for a minute. Who thought up the idea and when?

Eric Barnett: Believe it or not, Points North formed on Craigslist. I’m an East Coast transplant and initially moved out here in 2003. I hadn’t been active musically for a few years as I had a young family at the time. Our drummer, Kevin Aiello, posted an ad on Craigslist looking for folks to play instrumental music just for the joy of creating. I answered much too late, and Kevin’s ad had already expired. Soon after, I posted my own, looking for the person who made the original. Kevin immediately saw it and replied. He had already connected with Points North’s original bass player, Damien Sisson (current bassist of Death Angel), and we started rehearsing.

As a trio, we played on Sunday mornings and never played any cover songs. Instead, we started writing our own music together. Within a few months, we had written a whole set and decided to try to play out. Our first show was at a little venue called the Time Out Tavern in Concord. Back in 2008, I was a finalist in a Guitar Player Magazine national competition, which soon led to our record deal with Magna Carta Records (home to Kansas, YES, Liquid Tension Experiment, Steve Morse Band, Steve Stevens, Bozzio-Levin-Stevens, and more). Around that time, Damien was asked to join Death Angel. With their relentless touring schedule, there just wasn’t enough time for him for both bands. Kevin and I asked Uriah Duffy to join. He had just recently left Whitesnake, and that’s been the band lineup since then. We have already put out two records, and a third is coming.

Pacific Sun: You guys have opened for many well-known national acts. What were some of your favorite gigs?

Eric Barnett: The first Michael Schenker show will always be near and dear to my heart because it was our initial springboard. We opened for Eric Johnson, a personal hero and my all-time favorite guitarist. We also played with Blues Traveler as they are childhood friends of mine and it was such a joy to reconnect with them. Our drummer, Kevin, would probably say the Steve Morse Band. We were booked as support for the Dixie Dregs, but then they removed all openers. 

Pacific Sun: The band has been rather quiet lately. Do you plan to play more in 2024/2025? 

Eric Barnett: We do. As with many live acts, COVID really set us back. We did a few live streams from my garage and called it the “Monterey Garage Festival.” We started working on new material — a possible new album working title is “Pulling Some Strings” — and I upgraded my home recording gear. Uriah and I both tracked guitar, bass, and drums at home, but it was somewhat of an arduous process. We are now in the mixing stage and plan to support some bigger-name artist friends of ours when possible. Additionally, we recently played a co-headline show with Daniele Gottardo and his wife Gretchen Menn (Zepparella) that was very successful. We’re definitely looking forward to doing more of that.

Girlpower Productions presents the Sexy Sundays series with headliner Points North who play Peri’s Tavern located at 29 Broadway Blvd. in Fairfax. Doors open at 6pm and the show kicks off at 7pm. Also on the bill are New Earth Farmers, SourFlower, and Daydream Revival. Advance tickets are just $15 and can be purchased at www.peristavern.com or take your chances at the door. 21 and over only. 


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