Barrett Black has opened for acts like Backstreet Boys, De La Soul, Jesse McCartney, Holly Golightly, Aloe Blacc, Anoushka Shankar, Yo-Yo Ma, Patrick Dodd,and others. He won the CICA International concerto competition in Arkansas.Lydia Bain has played with Jason Marsalis, Norah Jones backup band, Rumpke Mountain Boys, Roger Humphreys and B.B. King’s Band on Beale Street.
Wink and the Signal have traveled all over the country, playing anything from classical to hip-hop, bluegrass to gypsy jazz. Earlier this year (2014) they won the Circus Arts Acoustic/Unplugged Award of Best Acoustic Band in Southwest Florida.
Wink and the Signal started out officially as a “last stop of the night”. Lydia had been practicing for her Masters jury at Duquesne Conservatory, while Barrett had been working on a movie in upstate Pennsylvania; a movie about the viability of a small college town when the students leave after the semester is over. Clearly, both of them had the need of a cocktail. They proceeded, from literally different parts of the state, to end up in the City of Pittsburgh, at the same bar, the THUNDERBIRD, known for its Underground Railroad roots, hipster mustaches, and women who still knew the pertinence of the leather mini-skirt.
It was Barrett who, of course, was at the bar ordering a drink when he looked to his right. There was Lydia, sitting demurely, fielding questions from three rather overzealous bluegrass musicians with very limited understanding of the words “personal space”, with a look on her face that literally translated to : WE need to talk. The discussion? Music. The beer? Railbender ale. The mood? Boredom from the constant trappings of the mediocre bar gig, the lassez-faire jazz club, the constant “oosh-oosh-oosh” of the techo-transient mood muzak that people pay top dollar for.
Lydia and Barrett wanted to explore more with music; to travel the world studying, interacting, and performing a genre that they would create, known ONLY as AFRO-COUNTRY.
Both Barrett and Lydia went to music school; Lydia going to the University of Memphis, Barrett attending Carnegie Mellon University. They studied performance for cello and violin respectively, with smatterings of teaching, acting, voice, playwriting et al. the Conservatory format fit both of them rather well, and they both continued to flourish under their respective teachers, but there was always something that pushed them to want to do more. “I’ve always loved music , and knew it was going to be a part of my life,” Lydia said once, while being interviewed in the Jackson Free Press (Jackson, Miss), “but I never really knew if I was supposed to just perform, teach, do a bit of both, write…just so many options and not enough time in the day!”.
Barrett also taught as well, from Pittsburgh to as far as San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and relished to opportunity to do just that.
But there was more in store for both of them. Barrett, the creator of several art/media collaborations (with a rock opera or two thrown in) is constantly trying to incorporate visual stimulations, acting, and period pieces to the music, where as Lydia has a strong desire for dance, and the incorporation of that medium- how it translates to the overall feel.
With these interests they knew that they had something very special in store for the world.
They started on their journey in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, playing the CICA Music Festival (an all Classical Festival where Barrett won the Cello Competition), all the way to Taos, New Mexico and the Sacred Mountain; playing Memphis, Shreveport, New Orleans, New York, Cold Water, Jackson, Madison (all in Mississippi), Pittsburgh, Cleveland West Virginia, Louisville, Texas, Atlanta, and all over Florida and now Colorado. Earlier this year (2014) they won the Circus Arts Acoustic/Unplugged Award of Best Acoustic Band in Southwest Florida and are now touring extensively in Colorado.