Danny Barnes (born 1961) is a banjo and guitar player whose music is influenced by country, jazz and punk. Born in Temple, Texas and raised in Belton, Barnes was exposed to music at a young age: he recalls picking up a love of country and bluegrass from his father and grandmother, Delta blues from one brother and punk from another. He attended the University of Texas and graduated with a degree in audio production in 1985.
In 1990, while living in Austin, Barnes formed a band called Bad Livers
with bassist Mark Rubin and fiddler Ralph White. The band's 1994 debut album, [album]Delusions of Banjer[/album], was produced by Paul Leary of The Butthole Surfers
, and gained the band some attention in the alt-rock-country scene; they followed it up with three more albums on the Sugar Hill Records label.
In 2000 Barnes, now living in the Seattle area, dissolved the Bad Livers and founded a new band, Danny Barnes & Thee Old Codgers
, with bassist Keith Lowe and violinist Jon Parry. This band released only a single album, 2001's Things I Done Wrong, which was produced by avant-garde jazz composer and pianist Wayne Horvitz (a fellow Seattle resident). 2002 saw Barnes working with jazz guitarist Bill Frisell; Frisell was moving towards incorporating more "American"—country and bluegrass—influences into his playing, and he wanted Barnes to give him lessons in that direction. Their work together led to Barnes playing on Frisell's next album, [album]The Willies[/album]; Barnes also toured with Frisell in support of the album.
Since moving to Seattle Barnes has also recorded several solo albums, which were self-released, and a duet effort. His 2003 album [album]Dirt on the Angel[/album], released on Terminus Records, featured Frisell, Chuck Leavell, Darol Anger, and Dirk Powell. In 2004 Barnes participated in Wayne Horvitz's Mylab band, and 2005 saw Barnes' second Terminus release, [album]Get Myself Together[/album].
Besides his musical skills, Barnes is also "a licensed pilot, skateboarder, motorcyclist, flyfisher, unicyclist, trap shooter, and disc golfer." Listen at Last.fm
With Get Myself Together, (Terminus Records), Danny Barnes - America's irreplaceable alchemist of acoustic razzle-dazzle, open-borders ecumenism, and downhome chutzpah - gets back to basics. Or so a record of lively blues and old-timey-tinged songs, played on banjo and guitar with occasional fiddle and bass guitar accompaniment (Brittany Haas and Garey Shelton, respectively), would seem. Coming on the heels of the widescreen epic Dirt on the Angel and a magic-barrel profusion of experimental-edge side projects, Get Myself Together sounds at first like a return to the earlier, leaner aesthetic of Bad Livers, the Texas avant-hillbilly visionaries whom Barnes steered through seven records from 1994 to 2000. But his fans know to listen more than once. When Barnes is driving, there are no entirely straight routes, forward or back, and nothing slips off the back of the truck.