Couple starts folk band to support newborn

OXFORD — A traveling musical duo has settled down in Oxford and promises to “folk” things up for the locals with their “dirty folksy blues.”

Whiskey Street Wumbo is a new local acoustic folk band formed by couple Ryan West and Sandy Barker.

West, 26, sings lead vocals and plays guitar and mouth percussion and brass. Barker, 24, sings back-up vocals and plays mandolin and washboard.

The couple met in Venice Beach, Calif. four years ago. West was “busking,” which is slang for “street performing,” when Barker saw him. “I liked his music. I liked everything about him. I knew I had to do something about it,” said Barker.

West started playing guitar when he was 14 years old in Riverside, Calif. He was home-schooled by a tutor, because he had medical problems. It was his tutor that taught him how to play. Before learning guitar, West played piano and sang in his school choir and MADRIGALS.

“I sang my whole life and started playing piano at age 12. After I learned guitar, I started picking up other instruments quickly like banjo and accordion. I played for my friends at parties and brought my instruments to school to play for lunch money,” said West.

Barker started playing musical instruments in grade school in Norwich. Her first instrument was the trumpet in fourth grade. Like West, Barker also sang in her school choir and MADRIGALS. It was not until high school that she decided to travel and play guitar.

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