David Barbe (September 30, 1963) is an American musician and producer/engineer from Athens, Georgia and director of the Music Business Certificate Program at the University of Georgia. He is chief of Chase Park Transduction studio in Athens. Barbe is known for his work as a songwriter, singer, guitarist, and bass guitarist in Sugar, Mercyland, and Buzz Hungry, as well as solo performances. Also, he has produced nearly every album by the popular country rock band Drive-By Truckers, and has worked as producer and engineer with Son Volt. He has an all-star solo band in Athens called the Quick Hooks.
David Barbe was musically influenced by his parents — "Time Lady" Jane Barbe and composer John Barbe — who were both big band musicians.
Barbe and his wife, Amy, have three children — daughter Annabelle and sons Winston and Henry. He is a past president of the Athens-Clarke County Little League baseball league and has managed his sons' all-star teams to several city championships.
Barbe moved to Athens, Georgia in 1981 to attend the University of Georgia. In Athens, he played occasional guitar with punk favorites Bar-B-Que Killers. He later formed his own group, Mercyland in 1985 and acted as the main songwriter, bassist, and co-lead singer. After Mercyland disbanded in 1991, he fronted Buzz Hungry.
It was shortly after this that two key things came up that influenced the course of his career. One was John Keane offering to tutor him in music production and engineering, and one was Bob Mould asking him to join Sugar. Barbe initially turned Mould down, feeling that he should stay home and look after his family. But his wife encouraged him to accept. The band was Mould's show; Barbe placed only one track, "Company Book," on a proper Sugar full album release. However, he did contribute a number of songs, some from Buzz Hungry and some original, that were performed live and/or released as B-sides, such as 'Where Diamonds are Halos' which was also recorded as part of a BBC radio session. In 1994, with his family now including three children, he decided he needed to leave Sugar.
Barbe and Mould played a reunion show on March 18, 2008, in Atlanta as Barbe joined Mould's touring band for a rendition of Divide & Conquer (even more interesting that this is a Hüsker Dü song, not a Sugar song). Barbe also joined Mould for a full gig on October 18, 2009, at the Treasure Island Music Festival. Barbe flew out to play the show after bassist Jason Narducy's wife went into labor. The set consisted of a mix of Hüsker Dü and Sugar songs.
In 1997, Barbe and two co-owners opened Chase Park Transduction studios in Athens. Since opening Chase Park, Barbe has worked as a producer, engineer, writer and musician on hundreds of recording projects with many artists, including Drive-By Truckers, Deerhunter, the Glands, Jerry Joseph, Amy Ray, k.d. lang, and R.E.M. Barbe has performed in a wide variety of "one-off" bands such as Christa McAuliffe and the Challengers and helped create or contribute to many cassette and vinyl compilation records around Athens and Atlanta such as Proud o' Me Gluttony and Some. He performed at AthFest 2007 with Jack Logan. In 2011, Barbe remixed and reissued Mercyland's sole full-length album, No Feet on the Cowling.
In August 2010, Barbe was named interim director of the University of Georgia's Music Business Certificate Program, then in March 2011 he was appointed the certificate program's director on a permanent basis by Terry College of Business Dean Robert Sumichrast.
David's parents, Jane and John Barbe, will be inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame on September 26, 2015.
Flagpole Magazine - Mercyland Profile
David Barbe at AllMusic
Chase Park Transduction