By Michael Rampa

Barry Ollman epitomizes the concept of being under the radar. The accomplished singer-songwriter has been active on the music scene since the late 1960s. His first studio album, “What’ll It Be” is a diverse, folky 10-song collection. With a little help from Graham Nash, he sets the tone for a 40 minute effort worthy of a sit down listen with the gorgeously textured “Imogen’s Lament.” As it weaves through an emotional spectrum ranging from societal anger to gentle love, the rest of the album follows suit. He demonstrates that he can rock out or deliver a danceable revenge anthem to the financial sector, “Banker’s Holiday” with equal aplomb.


Ollman is well known as a collector of rare letters and has put together the largest collection of Woody Guthrie’s papers and artworks in private hands. Fittingly, he tips his cap to the legend on “See You In Okemah,” where jazz composer David Amram lends his whimsical and joyous penny whistles. Elsewhere, he shares his affinity for the beauty of open spaces with “Blue Colorado” and “Painting the West,” inspired by Guthrie’s 1936 oil painting.

“I feel such an appreciation for the beauty and subtlety of life and that’s something I try to capture in my music. We only get so much time here and I don’t want to take it for granted.” At 61, his first release was a long time coming, further delayed by a heart attack in 2012. It is worth the wait.