About Danny Barnes
A 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. Iʼm not one of those virtuoso instrumentalists, I canʼt compete with those guys, but the one thing I can do is write really good songs.”
Part Southern gentleman, part humble artist, Barnes is being more than a bit selfeffacing with this statement. Widely regarded as one of the most innovative and genre-bending artists of his craft, Barnes’ 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 choiceʼ to play non-traditional music like rock, fusion, and jazz with electronic percussion and loop elements.
He has come to redefine the banjoʼs 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 ‘Barnyard Electronics’ 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.
Banjo player extraordinaire Danny Barnes is the 2015 recipient of the 6th annual Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. Described as “one of a kind” and widely acknowledged as “one of the best banjo players in America,” Barnes is recognized for his experimental sound. The raw and unpolished musical breadth of his compositions has propelled him across the industry today. As a Texas native and one of bluegrass musicʼs most distinctive and innovative performers, Barnes is known for blending together different sounds in order to defy labeling. His desire to pick up the banjo stemmed from a Grandpa Jones and Stringbean concert he attended as a child. Moved by the performance, Barnes was first inspired to learn how to play the banjo at age ten. He continued his musical endeavors at the University of Texas, where he focused his studies on audio production and discovered his passion for recording music.
Barnes frequently plays with artists such as guitarist Bill Frisell, Dave Matthews, and keyboardist Wayne Horvitz and has composed the scores to Richard Linklaterʼs The Newton Boys and (with Frisell) the documentary American Hollow. Today he is working primarily on his solo-project, and sometimes tours with a trio consisting of Joe K Walsh, Grant Gordy, & himself. His upcoming album features all his most recent original works that will feature musicians such as Dave Matthews, Bill Frisell, Matt Chamberlain, & John Paul Jones.