836 N. Russell St. / Portland, OR, 97227
Thursday, March 16, 2017
8 p.m.$10 in advance, $14 day of show21 and over
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good song has a way of speaking to everybody" Danny Barnes says. "I have faith
that more people are going to hear my songs, which is really what I have to
offer. I'm not one of those virtuoso instrumentalists, I can't compete with
those guys, but the one thing I can do is write really good songs."
Southern gentleman, part humble artist, Barnes is being more than a bit
self-effacing with this statement. Widely regarded as one of the most
innovative and genre-bending artists of his craft,
musical interests are both varied and adventurous, and he incorporates that
versatility into a progressive approach to an instrument that is musically
polarizing and steeped in tradition. Although he demonstrates an appreciation
for the history of the bluegrass, country, and folk music from which the
banjo's reputation was born, his inventive take is what truly separates him from
his contemporaries...using the banjo as his 'weapon of choice' to play
non-traditional music like rock, fusion, and jazz with electronic percussion
and loop elements.
has come to redefine the banjo's perceived image in an eclectic career for
which genre definitions have merely been a polite suggestion. From his early days
as the driving force behind the impressive Austin-based Bad Livers, a band of
pioneering Americana missionaries, through a prolific solo career and the development
of his trademark 'folkTronics' project, a startling approach that incorporates
digital technology and various effect pedals to stretch the tonal range of the
instrument, Barnes has always listened to his proudly offbeat inner voice.
skills as an instrumentalist and his open embrace and infectious love of music
for music's sake, have brought him to share the stage and record with a wide
array of marquee artists that reads like a who's who among broad musical
landscapes, ranging from bluegrass greats Bela Fleck, Del McCoury, and Sam Bush,
newgrass stars Yonder Mountain String band, to Americana artists Robert Earl
Keen, Lyle Lovett, and Nickel Creek, to Jam friendly Gov't Mule, Leftover Salmon,
and Keller Williams, to jazz and blues instrumentalists Bill Frisell, Chuck
Leavell, and John Popper, to members of the punk and metal Butthole Surfers, Dead
Kennedys, and Ministry.
his new album, Rocket (to be released
on November, 8th on ATO Records), Barnes continues to push the envelope and reinvent
the wheel with the creation of the 'Barnjo'; a prototype of a hard body
electric banjo with pickups that allow him to showcase his love for rock and
roll, and his passion for melding genres together in a style that is quite
frankly, all of his own making. Yet, on this new album, it is his uncanny songwriting
voice that steps to the forefront.
his last album, the critically acclaimed Pizza
Box, Barnes found an ally in Dave Matthews (co-founder of ATO Records). "In
the process of developing these ideas, one of the things I ended up doing a few
times with my friend Dave, was to sit around and eat sandwiches and swap songs;
new stuff we were working on.'Here's one......(jam) ....now play one of yours!
(jam)', it's a great way to spend a day." Having played several shows with Dave
Matthews Band in recent years, Danny was invited to perform on the band's
latest platinum release, Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King. Throughout the process,
the two had become friends, and Matthews' enthusiasm for Barnes brought this
body of work to light, with Matthews even contributing backing vocals on some
of the songs (including lead single, "Overdue") and the cover art illustration
of the album.
Pizza Box, Matthews introduced Barnes
to acclaimed producer John Alagia (Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Jason Mraz).
With drumming powerhouse Matt Chamberlin (Pearl Jam, David Bowie, T-Bone
Burnett), who Barnes describes enthusiastically, "the most bad ass drummer we could
find," the team were let loose in Haunted Hollow, Dave Matthews Band's private
studio in Charlottesville, Virginia. As Barnes puts it, "If you got good songs
and a good place to work, and good people to work with, you just can't lose you
know?" As the old adage states: 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it', the team was
reunited in Los Angeles with the intent to rekindle the same kind of magic for
round two on 'Rocket'.
to Matthews, "the music is smart and soulful, and the lyrics are profound. It
is heaven and earth. It is Americana, from the back porch to the pulpit, shattered
dreams on angels' wings. I can't stop listening."
'Rocket', Barnes spins tales of American life like a latter-day John Steinbeck,
wielding banjo and pen with equal effect, and the character of his voice as the
perfect mouthpiece to truly bring these songs and stories to life. 'Rocket'
comes stuffed with sharp hooks and addictive vocal and instrumental melodies,
but it's Barnes skills as a storyteller that shine strong. He tells tales with the
wry wit and humor of Garrison Keilor, the lyrical eccentricities and intellect
of Randy Newman, performed with the southern twang and swagger of Levon Helm.
Barnes combines and blends all of these elements into a style that is uniquely
vivid cast of characters travel through oft-overlooked back roads of the
American landscape, hanging in forgotten corners as they assess the
breakthrough moments in their often self-destructive paths. In turns humorous,
touching, and gritty, they leap out of the grooves in flesh and blood, with
their bruises, moments of grace and all. His sly observations are slid into
richly detailed stories of characters in which the songwriting illuminates the
broad experiences and struggles of folks stuck in various ruts. Even at their
most unhinged, these creatures are identifiable and eerily familiar. Barnes
sums up the underlying narrative: "The story is this group of people (as
they intersect in their physical environs) that are on various sides of the
life decision that they are not victims after all, but rather, the cause of
their own misery. " Barnes reflects, "I'm just a regular person myself so
I identify with a normal trip. That's one thing I like about pop music is it
speaks to everybody and speaks to a broader perspective than say, just being a
jazz vibraphonist. That's cool, but it's hard to reach out to people. I'm a music
fan myself, and what do I like to hear? I like to hear weird pop music, like
twisted pop. Songs, you know? And not necessarily in a bluegrass, acoustic or
country way, or a jazz way or a rock way. Just these weird pop songs that are
about modern life. That's what I feel connected to."
course, like any Barnes project, 'Rocket' will defy any labels one will try to
slap on it. He isn't interested in conforming to past labels and associations,
but rather, he is fascinated by the joy and creative possibilities to be found
in the here and now. "What I'm always interested in doing is propelling
acoustic music forward. Pushing it into the modern world, using it as a form
for contemporary expression," he enthuses.
tell you, to be 50 years old and to be doing what I'm doing, and to feel like
you've got the best record you've ever made by leaps and bound...boy, it's
really exciting!" Barnes says with that trademark zeal and energy that keep his
music so consistently fresh and compelling. "I just try to remember what it
felt like when I was a kid. I try to stay about fourteen, when I was really
excited about stuff and I could practice the banjo for ten hours and never think
that was weird or hard. I try to remember that - just always being curious and
learning. I've never been bored for one second of my entire life."
the inset of one of his albums reads a simple statement above Danny's head
peaking over the neck of his banjo with a look of willful optimism and the kind
of hard-earned wisdom that comes from age and experience, "A. Hey, we're all in
this together, and B. Music is good!" Therein lies the gospel of Danny Barnes.
Songwriter Kory Quinn puts the true in troubadour. He has a refreshingly homespun take on Americana, a very welcome sigh of relief from the miasma of pop-country and commercialized folk. After spending over 270 Self-Booked Dates on the road in 2013, which spanned 7 countries, Quinn still found time to write and record new material. The Second full-length album, At The End of The Bar, boils down red-dirt basics in a freewheeling roadhouse stew. Quinn's songwriting is adroit and surefooted, offering sturdily constructed country, bluegrass, folk, and Cajun-tinged songs for his ensemble to really sink their fangs into on this instant jukebox classic. The songs are short and sweet but packed with clever lines, sentimental harmonies and twangy fills. All that makes them the kind of songs that hang around your brain like honky-tonk regulars. Among his self penned road-worn material are stories and songs that hearken back to old-time drinking songs and heart wrenching country standards. As if he was never new and yet never gets old. In the meantime he is touring and working on his follow up record, "Chicago/Western" which will be released at some point in 2015.
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