Phil Barker

Phil's Gear Page > Songwriter, musician Iona / 1997-present
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Photos by Henk Oosting (henkoosting.com), Lutz Diehl, Joe del Tufo, Janien Kommer, Mike Anders & Monica Duffels
B orn in Perivale, London in 1970, I first wanted to learn to play drums. However, after watching Mark King (Level 42), I soon dropped the idea of drums and decided to learn bass. I was really into Genesis and It Bites in my teens, but no one in my area was playing that kind of 'muso' stuff, so I had to settle for playing in Goth bands (in one band the singer wore make-up and women's underwear on stage!).

In 1988, I began playing in Jazz Funk bands. I thought "now's my chance" and, with Status Bass in hand and Trace-Elliot amp, I began slapping and popping uncontrollably for about 2 years (one band I played with at that time was called 'Pigs in the Parlour').

In 1991, I joined the Saltmine Band (Christian) which later became Funky Beehive. After 18 months of bad jokes, no money and packing up at midnight in the rain in Reading, my Christian charity had depleted.

In 1993, I began working with Sal Solo of Classix Nouveau, spending a lot of time touring America and Europe. At that time I learnt some valuable lessons on how to be a good Catholic, how to shave your head, and how not to eat food with dead animals in it. Sal always insisted that the band was paid cash (local currency) after every gig which is a rare and excellent thing. I also recorded 2 albums with Sal Solo.

In 1994, I met producer Andy Piercy and began working on various projects with him and session guitarist Dave Clifton. It was also at this time that I met my long time sparring partner and pal Terl Bryant and we began working as a rythmn section both live and on recordings together.

In August 95 I'd been depping for session ace Phil Spalding (Robbie Williams, Seal, Mick Jagger, Mike Oldfield) in the band 'Chief Seattle'. Terl asked me if I could fill in for an gig at the Borderline, London, standing in for Tim Harries (who had replaced Nick Beggs). I was not at all familiar with Iona's music. Terl's advice was not to play anything FUNKY because Dave would hate me. I had to learn about 20 songs for the gig as the set list hadn't been finalised (no change there!). Listening over and over to the songs I realised just how intricate and well thought out they were. The gig must have gone pretty well because Simon (the manager of the band at the time) told me "well done, anyone would have thought you'd been in the band for years". A few months later, and I was on tour with the band for what was the most influential time. The album 'Journey Into The Morn' was released, and was very busy with the longest UK and US tours ever. We all got on famously, especially after we nearly got killed on the road twice in 2 days!

In 1997 I took over the job permanently from Tim and we (Iona) recorded the live double album 'Heavens Bright Sun'.

I count Dave, Troy, Terl, Jo and Frank as some of my most valued friends.

As well as working with Iona, I have also had the privilege of working with the following:

Faith Hill, Robin Mark, Matt Redman, Don Moen, Paul Wilbur, Andy Piercy, Eoghan Heaslip, Dave Clifton, Geraldine Latty, Chris Eaton, Barry & Batya Segal, Kim Hill, The Woodthieves, Caroline Bonnet, Paul Mills, Chris Norton, Tim Hughes, Noel Richards, Ricky Valance, Paul Field, The New Scottish Orchestra, oh and Paul Naylor.

I have played on at least 60 albums so here is short selected Discography (sorry to anyone I haven't mentioned, please don't take it personally).

I live in Surrey with my wife Claire and our children, Francesca and Madeleine. I do not have my own studio, but I am currently working on my solo project, brewing beer in the understairs cupboard!
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Discography (10)

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News:

28th March 2017

Great news! Celestial Fire Live in London dvd/cd's are arriving on Friday! If you haven't already pre-ordered you can at and watch the dvd promo at

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25th March 2017

MORE MAPPING....
A great day tracking bass and drums with Terl Bryant and Phil Barker on the final MAP PROJECT song for the first EP release. This time another parable, The Good Samaritan. So good to be working with great friends who've been so much a part of my Iona journey.

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16th March 2017

MAP PROJECT continues.....
Back in Zerohour studio to work on the next song called Hunger.... about the miracle feeding of thousands of people with just a lads picnic lunch to go round !

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21st March 2017

MUSICAL MEMORIES...
When we don't speak the same language, it's great to have music🎶. My borrowed carbon fibre guitar from Irelands own Emerald guitar manufacturers, certainly helped to connect with folk of all ages among the refugee communities we were able to spend time with. Conditions have improved for some , having moved from tents inside cold, damp, dark factory warehouses to portacabins outside...... but 100's of people sharing a few portaloos and cold water taps , with no electricity..... things are still pretty desperate. 100's more refugees arrive in Greece every week but the rate of repatriation is much lower so the overall problem continues to escalate. The last image shows some of the hand knit blankets we took out getting an airing in the sunshine. Another couple of months and temperatures will be much higher, bringing new challenges .... mosquitoes, sanitation problems, water contamination..... makes me appreciate home so much more.

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15th February 2017

WAITING.....
Still many thousands wait it out in camps like this, hoping for a phone call from the UN to process their asylum. The camp appears quiet but most folk stay in their tents to keep warm and because there is nothing to do outside. At least the electricity is working today. We prayed for a young guy waiting for essential surgery... he needs a miracle🙏. We hope to get into some other camps to distribute vitamins but currently we don't have official passes so we are going in "under the radar"..... praying for gates to open!

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13th February 2017

GUITAR ON MY BACK😄
Returning to Thessaloniki for another week of refugee involvement. 🙏🎶 and hopefully no ❄️!

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30th January 2017

Heading back in two weeks to bring the light of Christ into the darkness of the camps in Thessaloniki. 🙏

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29th January 2017

MAP PROJECT update
In the absence of modern technology , three things are essential for navigation.
A map, a light and a compass!
Yesterday , Tre Sheppard was busy mixing the "compass" song for the MAP PROJECT. It's called Constant in My Chaos.

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17th January 2017

Doing the pre-gig tourist dash around Gdansk. Snowmen on the beach, the longest pier in Europe, the tallest cathedral , the most colourful streets, frozen lakes and rivers.....just stunning ... and freezing ❄️⛄️.

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5th February 2017

SNOW IN GDANSK, POLAND.
This is where I'll be gigging tomorrow evening , joined by Andy Rogers , and some local musicians. We had a lovely time this evening playing through some old Iona classics together, though I do miss my best Iona mates, Dave, Frank, Martin and Phil! Hope you're all enjoying your weekend wherever ya are. ⛄️🎶

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13th January 2017

TAKING SONGS TO GDANSK , POLAND.
Songs from Iona, Uncountable Stars, The Cave Sessions, Raphael's Journey and The MAP project going to Gdansk Poland.
As for the earlier post of an Iona gig in London???? That's a mystery to me ! I'll definitely not be there!

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21st March 2017

Hello fellow Ionians... Thought I'd share this blessing for the new year with you. It's still in demo stages, but I hope you enjoy it.
Be blessed in 2017 and we will continue to make beautiful music together in different combinations and collaborations. Be blessed!

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14th January 2017

PSALM 5
A new song for a new year🙏🎶
Fresh this morning.
Wishing You God's peace, joy and His power and love in 2017.

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25th December 2016

WISHING YOU A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS....🎶🙏
Here's a wee song from home, one I first heard decades ago when Julie Andrews recorded it on a Christmas album. My dad always played it when we were putting up decorations. One of my nostalgic, lesser known favourites..... and slightly Celtic 😄

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17th December 2016

TWO BROTHERS (not an IONA song :-( but there are three past Iona members playing it!).
It's the first parable song from the MAP project. Thanks for listening - you can download it here -

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10th February 2017

AN IONA SONG.....
In the hills of Donegal , on a rare windless winter day, just before I left for the refugee camps......

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13th February 2017

IONA UPDATE
Things have been quiet on the Iona front for a while now and we are often asked when the next gigs/album will be. So we wanted to update you.

For some time we have been considering the future of the band, and during these discussions, it has become clear that, certainly for now, this chapter of Iona’s story, as a touring and recording band, has come to a close. Frank has decided to move on to pursue other challenges and projects. Jo, as well as having a growing need in recent years to prioritise family commitments, has also become increasingly involved in mission work with her home church and will be going on some short mission trips to refugee camps in the coming months.

We do not know what will happen in future years, whether we will get together again as Iona. The door will remain open, but for the foreseeable future, the next and exciting chapters of our journey will involve other avenues.

Jo is also currently working on her MAP project, which features Phil Barker and ex Iona member Terl Bryant.

Dave and Frank are involved in the ‘Celestial Fire’ band, which will continue to play Iona music as well as Dave’s solo music. Dave will also continue touring with the Strawbs and as a duo with Sally Minnear, as well as work on various other studio and live projects.
Frank is also working on a solo album and is incredibly busy and in demand as a producer and arranger in The Netherlands.
Martin is working on a project with his wife Lynn Caldwell that combines music and written reflections to be published online throughout the year and is looking forward to spending an extended period of time in Canada with family next year, and collaborating and performing with Canadian musicians that he’s worked with in recent years.

Phil will continue to work on various musical collaborations and sessions including Jo’s MAP project.

Thank you for all your support and enthusiasm over the years, we so appreciate it. We have had a wonderful journey since that first gig on June 24th 1989, working with so many special people, too many to mention here. We are so grateful for all of you who have listened to our music, attended gigs, bought the cds, promoted concerts, encouraged and supported us.

Do keep visiting this page where we will continue to post news of projects band members are working on. Dave & Debbie continue to run Open Sky Records and Iona’s cds (and other Open Sky releases) will of course remain available from the web
store (we are currently looking at options to make available the Iona albums that are unavailable at the moment).
IONA

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21st March 2017

Hi, Jo here with a clip of the first parable song from the MAP Project: Two Brothers
You can hear and download the full song (plus all the earlier releases) at

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4th December 2016

Vitamins, a song and prayers for healing all gratefully received. Miracles witnessed. There was no electricity and it was dark and damp but we are the light of the world and we bring hope. ✨.
Thankyou for your prayerful support 🙏. Greatly appreciated.

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2nd December 2016

WELCOME TO MY HOME!
This disused industrial warehouse has become home to about 1000 people. They are cold, hungry and. hopeless. They have no medical care. So much is needed. We tried to organise fun and games for 100 kids. It was chaos. But there were smiles and hugs and laughter.

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5th December 2016

INSIDE.....
a refugee camp in Greece. Outside it was snowing. Inside , music played, children danced and sang, people told their stories. For those of you who still think there are no women and children in these camps, here are some photos from tonight.

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2nd December 2016

SONG WRITING IN DONEGAL.....
A quick visit out west today to pick up a guitar from Donegal guitar makers , Emerald Guitars. They are kindly loaning me one of their resilient resin guitars for my trip to the refugee camps in Greece.
I wrote a song too 😄
Another one for the MAP project !
And it really looked like the photos. What a beautiful day 🌤✨

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22nd November 2016

Hi Everyone, Dave here. Tomorrow is my son Luca's 19th birthday. It would be a brilliant surprise for him if there was a big influx of orders for the lovely cards he has designed (all are hand made by him). This new venture is huge for him. Being autistic, his chances of ever being employed are close to zero, but this home based work around his own idea and enthusiasm (taking photos of our cats) will really help with his self esteem and self confidence. And a huge thanks to those who have already bought sets of the cards from around the globe!
The two ‘cat’ cards feature one of our 3 rescue cats, the very handsome Colin! Luca has also created some lovely Christmas cards with his own illustrations! These are available directly from us on the Iona web store in sets of 2, 4 or 10. Go to

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10th December 2016

MAPPING UNCHARTED TERRITORY!
Me and my guitar are joining a team to go to a refugee camp of around 60,000 Syrian people near Thessaloniki , Greece, in 10 days time.
Look at these images. Imagine this had happened to your home and your life had become that of a refugee, living in the squalor of a camp in winter.
I'd been asking God which parable song I was to write next. The Good Samaritan came to mind...... But it would be hypocritical of me to write the song and not live the story. I'll keep you updated on the journey.

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7th November 2016

MORE MAPPING....
Miracles and Parables.
Back to England tomorrow for another video shoot for the next MAP project songs. And, making a start on recording another song called Hunger( about the miracle of food multiplication ! )
MAP project musicians on these tracks are
Terl Bryant. Drums/ percussion
Phil Barker. Bass
Graeme Flowers. Flugelhorn
Andy Baker. Guitar
Alex Priest. Cello
And me, Jo Hogg. Vocals and piano.
And behind the camera, Louis Bryant 👍.

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5th November 2016

HORSE AND RIDER
Trust, freedom, grace....
A few images from the video for this track off Uncountable Stars.
( for general release in Dec)

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16th November 2016

Dave here - here's a great Christmas present idea! Over the years, many of you have very kindly supported our son Luca (who is autistic) by buying the Songs for Luca & Songs for Luca 2 albums. Money from the sales of these CDs continues to go directly towards helping Luca. Luca will be 19 this month and he and Debbie still do work together. Lately, Luca has become very keen on taking photos, especially of our cats, this has led to Luca deciding to make some cards which we very much hope you like and consider buying to support him in his new enterprise. Luca has created 4 card designs - two Christmas ones and 2 featuring great photos he's taken of none other than Colin the cat! You can check them out at
(The Songs for Luca cds are also still in stock should you wish to add one of those!)

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20th October 2016

Rainbows and reflections.....
Downhill beach and cliffs North Coast, Ireland.
Just a couple of miles from where St Columba's first parish was located.
What a beautiful morning 😄

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16th October 2016

A QUICK UPDATE.
What's coming next on the MAP project??

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2nd February 2017

Hi, Jo here.
Here's 'Thirstl' - - second song from the M.A.P Project (Miracles And Parables) - let me know what you think!
You can download the track for whatever price you decide from the link above.

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