Kara Barnard’s Music

Kara Barnard's Music

Here in the music section of Kara’s site you can:

About Kara Barnard’s Music

Kara offers a variety of workshops and performances throughout the year. Follow Kara on Facebook to see where she’ll be next.

After winning the 2022 Mountain Dulcimer National Championship at the Winfield Folk Festival, Kara frequently appears at folk, bluegrass, and dulcimer festivals. 

Always entertaining and informative, don’t miss the chance to see Kara teach and perform when you get the chance!

Kara Barnard and Bing Futch onstage at the Gebhard Woods folk festival in 2023. Kara is playing a guitar, Bing is playing a dulcimer.

Kara offers a variety of workshops and performances throughout the year. Follow Kara on Facebook to see where she’ll be next.

After winning the 2022 Mountain Dulcimer National Championship at the Winfield Folk Festival, Kara frequently appears at folk, bluegrass, and dulcimer festivals. 

Always entertaining and informative, don’t miss the chance to see Kara teach and perform when you get the chance!

Kara Barnard’s music is rooted in the rural Midwest. You’ll hear folk, country, bluegrass, and rock influences to different extents on different albums. We’re expecting a new album in 2024!

In the sixties and seventies she was the child guitar prodigy. In the eighties she was one of the best female rock and roll lead guitarists in the country. In the nineties she refined her songwriting and began crafting excellent folk rock songs.

Along the way there were duos, bands,  and collaborations. Years of confident performing on stage and in the studio. Always there was the insistence on instrumental excellence.

Finally, things settled down to sharing her knowledge of music. Kara’s attention turned to helping others learn to play, and she found ways to create stages upon which other people could shine. The ultimate goal is always to share the joy of making music. 

In recent years, Kara has focused on bluegrass and traditional folk music in her teaching, performance, and workshops.

Kara Barnard's Cheshire Cat Moon CD Cover, text and photo of Kara and three instruments sitting on the ground leaning on a wall in a barn.

Cheshire Cat Moon, recorded in 1991, has a strong folk influence, with stories and images of her Green County (Indiana) upbringing and later residence in the hills of Brown County.

Produced by Kara and Grey Larsen, the album features  Pam Barnard Hayes singing back-up vocals, Abby Peach on percussion, and Grey siting in on several tracks.

Kara Barnard's Cheshire Cat Moon CD Cover, text and photo of Kara and three instruments sitting on the ground leaning on a wall in a barn.

Cheshire Cat Moon, recorded in 1991, has a strong folk influence, with stories and images of her Green County (Indiana) upbringing and later residence in the hills of Brown County.

Produced by Kara and Grey Larsen, the album features  Pam Barnard Hayes singing back-up vocals, Abby Peach on percussion, and Grey siting in on several tracks.

Kara’s second album was her first with highly regarded metal guitarist, Troy Seele (most widely known for his many years as the lead guitarist in Iced Earth). The Water’s Edge has a harder feel and a more “alternative” sound, but one begins to sense Kara’s growing interest in bluegrass.

Recorded at The Medicine Lodge, these songs were popular with radio programmers.

This 1997 Surf Records release was produced by Richard Owens and Dan Metro, and engineered by Jef Hoffman and Angela Hash. Musicians besides Kara and Troy were Jennifer Kirk, Mary Klene, Pam Barnard Hayes, Greg Hedges, Richard Owens, and Steve Brunner.

Kara Barnard and Troy Seele's "The Water's Edge" CD cover showing a color pencil drawing of two guitars.
Kara Barnard and Troy Seele's "The Water's Edge" CD cover showing a color pencil drawing of two guitars.

Kara’s second album was her first with highly regarded metal guitarist, Troy Seele (most widely known for his many years as the lead guitarist in Iced Earth). The Water’s Edge has a harder feel and a more “alternative” sound, but one begins to sense Kara’s growing interest in bluegrass.

Recorded at The Medicine Lodge, these songs were popular with radio programmers.

This 1997 Surf Records release was produced by Richard Owens and Dan Metro, and engineered by Jef Hoffman and Angela Hash. Musicians besides Kara and Troy were Jennifer Kirk, Mary Klene, Pam Barnard Hayes, Greg Hedges, Richard Owens, and Steve Brunner.

Kara Barnard and Troy Seele's Home CD cover showing a black and white photo of Kara at a young age playing on a hobby horse in her back yard.

Kara’s third release, her second collaboration with Troy Seele, is Home. The album features well-crafted songs with folk and alternative influences. Kara’s bluegrass leanings become more pronounced. This release includes some of Kara’s best songwriting.

Recorded at the Medicine Lodge, and engineered by Jef Hoffman and Angela Hash, this album was produced by Kara. Musicians include Mary Barker-Kline, Pam Barnard Hayes, Steve Brunner, Alan Burdette, John Cannaday, Shane Donald, Same King, Jennifer Kirk, Johnna Maze, and Loretta Vinson.

Kara Barnard and Troy Seele's Home CD cover showing a black and white photo of Kara at a young age playing on a hobby horse in her back yard.

Kara’s third release, her second collaboration with Troy Seele, is Home. The album features well-crafted songs with folk and alternative influences. Kara’s bluegrass leanings become more pronounced. This release includes some of Kara’s best songwriting.

Recorded at the Medicine Lodge, and engineered by Jef Hoffman and Angela Hash, this album was produced by Kara. Musicians include Mary Barker-Kline, Pam Barnard Hayes, Steve Brunner, Alan Burdette, John Cannaday, Shane Donald, Same King, Jennifer Kirk, Johnna Maze, and Loretta Vinson.

Fret Hopping in Brown County, Kara’s fourth album, is a celebration of acoustic instrumentation that showcases Kara’s command of a wide variety of instruments. The sound is bluegrass with elements of folk.

The album features a mix of original compositions and traditional tunes. Kara plays several instruments on some tracks, others are solo fingerstyle performances. 

Recorded at Softsound Studio with Le Isaac Weaver (Marg Herder) engineering, every instrument on every track of this release was played by Kara. The album was produced by Kara.

Kara Barnard's Fret Hopping in Brown County CD cover. Text and the drawings of several bluegrass instruments.
Kara Barnard's Fret Hopping in Brown County CD cover. Text and the drawings of several bluegrass instruments.

Fret Hopping in Brown County, Kara’s fourth album, is a celebration of acoustic instrumentation that showcases Kara’s command of a wide variety of instruments. The sound is bluegrass with elements of folk.

The album features a mix of original compositions and traditional tunes. Kara plays serveral instruments on some tracks, others are solo fingerstyle performances. 

Recorded at Softsound Studio with Le Isaac Weaver (Marg Herder) engineering, every instrument on every track of this release was played by Kara. The album was produced by Kara.

Wishing Chair and Kara Barnard, Dishpan Brigade CD Cover featuring a black and white of three uniqe looking older gals in the 1094s.

Dishpan Brigade, is an exciting collection of original compositions and traditional bluegrass tunes with a folk/roots flavor. Kara collaborated with Wishing Chair (Kiya Heartwood and Miriam Davidson) on this album.

It was recorded and produced by Kiya Heartwood at Terrakin Farm and mixed by Mark Hallman. Though Heartwood, Davidson, and Barnard played most of the instrutruments, additional musicians were Cisco Ryder, Mark Hallman, and Taylor Hallman. Released in June of 2003, the disc is full of great energy and amazing musicality.

Wishing Chair and Kara Barnard, Dishpan Brigade CD Cover featuring a black and white of three uniqe looking older gals in the 1094s.

Dishpan Brigade, is an exciting collection of original compositions and traditional bluegrass tunes with a folk/roots flavor. Kara collaborated with Wishing Chair (Kiya Heartwood and Miriam Davidson) on this album.

It was recorded and produced by Kiya Heartwood at Terrakin Farm and mixed by Mark Hallman. Though Heartwood, Davidson, and Barnard played most of the instrutruments, additional musicians were Cisco Ryder, Mark Hallman, and Taylor Hallman. Released in June of 2003, the disc is full of great energy and amazing musicality.

Brown County Waltz, Kara’s sixth album, features 20 more bluegrass influenced instrumental selections. A mix of original and traditional bluegrass tunes, the album was released in June of 2004. This disc has a more laid back feel than Fret Hopping.

The album was recorded by Mandy Miller and Dionne Ward at Swirling Turtle Studios and mixed by Dave Weber at Airtime Studio in Bloomington, Indiana. Kara is joined on two tracks by Lyndell Montgomery on violin, but otherwise she plays all the instruments you’ll hear on this album.

Kara Barnard's Brown County Waltz CD Cover. Text and the drawings of several bluegrass instruments.
Kara Barnard's Brown County Waltz CD Cover. Text and the drawings of several bluegrass instruments.

Brown County Waltz, Kara’s sixth album, features 20 more bluegrass influenced instrumental selections. A mix of original and traditional bluegrass tunes, the album was released in June of 2004. This disc has a more laid back feel than Fret Hopping.

The album was recorded by Mandy Miller and Dionne Ward at Swirling Turtle Studios and mixed by Dave Weber at Airtime Studio in Bloomington, Indiana. Kara is joined on two tracks by Lyndell Montgomery on violin, but otherwise she plays all the instruments you’ll hear on this album.

Kara Barnard and Pam Barnard Hays's Flying Down King Street CD cover shows Kara and her toddler nephew walking down the street with arms extended, acting like they are flying.

Flying Down King Street is Kara’s 2007 album created with her sister, Pam Barnard Hayes (the two perform together as The Barnard Sisters). The release features nine new songs and ten previously released favorites. Most of the tunes feature sister Pam Barnard Hays on backing vocals.

This disc is a great overview of Kara’s songwriting work over the years, a must-have for every collector.

The new and existing songs (recordings spanning 15 years) were seamlessly mixed by Dave Weber at Airtime Studios in Bloomington.

Kara Barnard and Pam Barnard Hays's Flying Down King Street CD cover shows Kara and her toddler nephew walking down the street with arms extended, acting like they are flying.

Flying Down King Street is Kara’s 2007 album created with her sister, Pam Barnard Hayes (the two perform together as The Barnard Sisters). The release features nine new songs and ten previously released favorites. Most of the tunes feature sister Pam Barnard Hays on backing vocals.

This disc is a great overview of Kara’s songwriting work over the years, a must-have for every collector.

The new and existing songs (recordings spanning 15 years) were seamlessly mixed by Dave Weber at Airtime Studios in Bloomington.

Other artists' albums featuring Kara’s instrumentation:
  • Beth Lodge-Rigal, Children on a Ride
  • Tret Fure, various recordings
  • Wishing Chair, Crow (Kara also produced the album)
  • Jamie Anderson, various recordings (Kara produced Listen)
  • Sindacato, Logan County (Kara also produced the album)
  • Ma Kelly, Change in Weather
  • Cathi Norton, Various Stages of Undress
  • Buzzy Jones, To Helmsburg and Back
  • Ryllis Blackwell, From Seven Directions
  • Slats Klug, various Brown County recordings
  • Pam Wynance, Heart Shaped Rocks

Live Performance

Kara began her professional performing career right out of high school. She wrote material, sang lead and background vocals, and played a mean lead guitar. Click here to listen to a short recording of a guitar solo played by Kara at a Software performance in 1984.

A black and white publicity photo of the band "Standard Deviation" taken in the early 1980s.
Standard Deviation (early 1980s) Mike Matyus, Tom Cas, Neil Fleischer, Kara Barnard
A black and white 1982 publicity photo of the band, La Femme. Includes the names of band members, Shirley Weller, Suzanne Wilson, Lynne Kramer, Kara Barnard, and Candy Robinson.
La Femme (1982)
A color publicity photo of the band Software in 1984 taken in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Software (1983) Kara Barnard, Marg Herder, Julie Huffaker, Dianne Steinmetz (photo A. Jones)

Later in the 1980s and early 90s Kara performed mostly solo and in duos. Her performances highlighted her well-developed songwriting and excellent acoustic guitar playing. She performed at many smaller venues in the midwest during this time. 

In the 1990s things started to settle in for Kara and she performed on larger stages, sometimes solo, sometimes with other musicians. It was during this decade she formed a couple bluegrass bands, The Barnburners, and the all-female Ellie Maze. 

Since then Kara has performed at many of the country’s biggest folk venues including the Down Home in Bristol Tennessee; The Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Charlotte’s Web in Rockford, Illinois; and festivals from Kansas to New York, Michigan to Florida. 

A photo of Kara paying live with her all-female bluegrass band in the 1990s, the Ellie Maze.

Past women’s music festival performances include the National Women’s Music Festival, Sisterspace,  CampOut, Tomboy Girl Fest, Knowing Women Fest, Southern Women’s Music Festival, Autumnfest, and the Iowa Women’s Fest.

A photo of Kara paying live with her all-female bluegrass band in the 1990s, the Ellie Maze.

In the 1990s things started to settle in for Kara and she performed on larger stages, sometimes solo, sometimes with other musicians. It was during this decade she formed a couple bluegrass bands, The Barnburners, and the all-female Ellie Maze.

Since then Kara has performed at many of the country’s biggest folk venues including the Down Home in Bristol Tennessee; The Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Charlotte’s Web in Rockford, Illinois; and festivals from Kansas to New York, Michigan to Florida. 

Past women’s music festival performances include the National Women’s Music Festival, Sisterspace,  CampOut, Tomboy Girl Fest, Knowing Women Fest, Southern Women’s Music Festival, Autumnfest, and the Iowa Women’s Fest.

A photo of Kara Barnard, Jamie Anderson, and Phyllis Free onstage at the 2012 National Women's Music Festival.
Kara, Jamie Anderson, and Phyllis Free at the 2012 NWMF (photo Janice Rickert)

Kara Barnard has shared stages with many incredible talents including side player duties for Tret Fure, Jamie Anderson, Wishing Chair, Ferron, Lisa Koch, Edie Carey, Sindacato, and Slats Klug. You may have caught her playing during impromptu festival closers with Holly Near, Cris Williamson, Alix Dobkin, Irene Farrera, Ember Swift, Alix Olson, Sabrina Mathews, Vicki Shaw, and Lucie Blue Tremblay. 

You never know exactly when or where Kara’s going to show up on stage!

A photo of Kara Barnard, Jamie Anderson, and Phyllis Free onstage at the 2012 National Women's Music Festival.
Kara, Jamie Anderson, and Phyllis Free at the 2012 NWMF (photo Janice Rickert)

Kara Barnard has shared stages with many incredible talents including side player duties for Tret Fure, Jamie Anderson, Wishing Chair, Ferron, Lisa Koch, Edie Carey, Sindacato, and Slats Klug. You may have caught her playing during impromptu festival closers with Holly Near, Cris Williamson, Alix Dobkin, Irene Farrera, Ember Swift, Alix Olson, Sabrina Mathews, Vicki Shaw, and Lucie Blue Tremblay. 

You never know exactly when or where Kara’s going to show up on stage!

She has opened shows for Dave Matthews, James Taylor, Wynonna, REO Speedwagon, Fleetwood Mac, and Pat Benatar on the Indianapolis Verizon (now the Rouff Music Center) Plaza Stage.

Additionally, Kara’s opened for Janis Ian, Carrie Newcomer, Adrian Legg, and many other musicians at various midwest venues.

She has opened shows for Dave Matthews, James Taylor, Wynonna, REO Speedwagon, Fleetwood Mac, and Pat Benatar on the Indianapolis Verizon (now the Rouff Music Center) Plaza Stage.

Additionally, Kara’s opened for Janis Ian, Carrie Newcomer, Adrian Legg, and many other musicians at various midwest venues.

Follow the Barnard Sister’s Facebook page for any upcoming Barnard Sisters events. 

 Booking information can be obtained by contacting Kara.

Background image of a row of hands, based on a drawing by Kara Barnard
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