The Barnshakers is much more than just a wild rockabilly band. The guys recognize their roots from a wide field of good and real music - country, western swing, rhythm and blues, jazz, rock'n roll and rockabilly. The main thing is the feeling, true musicianship and loyalty to roots of their music.
The story began when Pete Hakonen, president of Goofin' Records, brought the great late Johnny Carroll (USA) for a gig in Finland 1992 and needed a backing group. The four guys - later to become the Barnshakers - had had on their mind to form an authentic rockabilly band for quite a while, and as Pete asked them to form a backing band he didn't have to ask twice. Vesa Haaja (vocals, guitar), Jussi Huhtakangas a.k.a. Lester Peabody (lead guitar), Mika Liikari (upright bass) and Mike Salminen (skins) had known themselves for years and played (and still play) in quality bands like The Whistle Bait, Dr. Snout and his Hogs of Rhythm and Hal Peters and his String Dusters. For the Johnny Carroll -show Pete asked if they -plus backing star himself - could do a set of their own. And so the Barnshakers had born.
Soon, after some months of rehearsing, the guys went to studio to record their first 10 inch album, the already deleted "Cool Enough" for Goofin'. The first record, like the rest released after that, had lots of their original tunes. Especially "Choo Choo Train", which they later rerecorded, became a minor underground hit. Their next studio session followed the same year (1993) and from the session was released one "45 ("She Done Quit Me") on Goofin' and one "45 ("Big Sandy") next year on legendary Willie Lewis' Rockabilly Records.
The friendship with one of the best rockabilly bands ever, the Texan trio High Noon, started when the group started its conquest of the world in Finland where they released their first L.P. and the friendship led soon to exchange of songs. Their next recording session - 1994 - brought "Complicated Fool" EP and "A Honky Tonk Session" CD on Goofin' with one Sean Mencher's song. Both releases got good response and soon the guys found themselves touring Europe and Scandinavia in 1994 and 1995. The cd was later next year released as a 10 inch vinyl on German Part Records as "Shakes the Barn". That time they also toured with High Noon's Shaun Young as his backing band in Scandinavia and that led to their present at Young's cd "Red Hot Daddy" on Goofin'. Shaun also gave them "Gone A-Rockin'" for their "Hocus Pocus" "45 in 1997. 13th Hemsby weekender in 1994 was their first appearance to a larger audience - with a great success.
The year 1996 started great with a "45 "Wiggle Like a Worm" which became a record hop hit platter all over. The song itself have a story: as Vesa first time visited High Noon in the States (1994), the people couldn't pronounce his name right and called him Vern instead. Well, Vern sound a bit like worm, one thing led to another and "Wiggle Like a Worm" was ready. In 1996 the Barnshakers made their first tour in States. Among other shows, they performed on the first Denver Rock'n Rhythm-Billy Weekend. Before the tour they released a new cd, "String-O-Rama" on Goofin'. It was later released as a vinyl on a Japanese On The Hill Records. Before the end of the year they also recorded a "45 with their own christmas songs "Desperate Santa" and "Santa`s Got a Brand New Pedal Steel".
The Barnshakers has backed a bunch of great musicians on their visits to Finland. Among them Hank Thompson, Narvel Felts, Hayden Thompson, Alvis Wayne, Johnny Carroll, Sanford Clark, Huelyn Duvall, Sid and Billy King, Martí Brom, Shaun Young, Johnny Carroll, Darrel Higham, Kim Lenz and Mack Stevens. With some of them they also have made recordings, like Darrel Higham – co-operation with Martí Brom is its own story!
In 1997 great guitar player/singer Darrel Higham visited Finland as a guitar player in Elvis-musical. The guys got to know themselves and soon they were in the studio to record “Pretty Little Devil” EP on Goofin’. The next year Darrel was back to record a whole cd with guys (“High Class Baby”) for Goofin’.
1999 started with a tour with great Texan female singer Martí Brom in Scandinavia which led - again with a very short notice - to an EP “Maybe I Do” which was recorded in Sweden, at Jo-Allans legendary vintage studio. The band continued co-operation with Martí the same year with recording Martí’s cd “Snake Ranch” which also has T. Jarrod Bonta from Austin, Texas on 88 keys. From the same session comes “Move On”/”What`cha Gonna Do” with T on piano - the first (00.30 am, 01/01/2000) vinyl “45 released on a new millenium!
On April of 2000 the fellows did again a USA West Coast tour with Martí Brom with a great success. The next year, 2001 The Barnshakers went again and toured States – this time with a brand new mini-cd from Goofin’, “North of Juarez”. The record and tour brought a new member to the group – Harri Saanio on piano. Harri has been playing in various groups since early 80’s and still can be heard along the Barnshakers in Boogie Machine and Dr. Snout and His Hogs of Rhythm. Later same year the Barnshakers also played in Spain. “North of Juarez” opened new doors to the band with it’s first class production and already crowdpleasing own compositions like “Heartbreak Train”. Soon the guys found themselves playing in France and backing one of the greatest country & western singers ever, Hank Thompson.
2002 started with news that there will be a grand happening in Green Bay, WI, Usa with almost hundred legendary 50’s artists and the Barnshakers was wanted to be one of the bands to back them and to play couple sets of their own. To celebrate their 10th Anniversary, guys went again to studio, first to do a ltd. 300 copies 45 with a brand new bopper “Boppin’ In Roswell” and “Raining in My Heart” plus a song with a famous finnish DJ, KW “Hound Dog Man” Blomqvist in German! Soon after that The Barnshakers finnished their new album, “Five Minutes to Live”, which got its inspiration of the movie with Johnny Cash playing psychopatic killer. “Five Minutes...” turned to be a success both with a crowd and critics. 2002 guys also played shows in Italy, Germany and Danmark.
So, the story isn’t even close to its end. The Barnshakers are always trying to make it better and better on wax and are always glad to see and meet all the great people all over the world who appreciate that great variety of good music that was made in the time when music really was music.