oh man check this out. so, i've been working on banjo music for 45 years this year. practicing taking lessons. not to mention in my professional life of writing a pretty big stack of songs and putting out lots of records and working on projects with others. but...i've never made an all acoustic bluegrass banjo record until now! it comes out march the 3rd. the great nick forster produced the sessions at the solar powered etown studio in boulder. mike bub played bass, jason carter played fiddle and chris henry played mandolin. in other words, bluegrass royalty! we made a loving homage to my all time favorite banjo player, DON STOVER.
i'm really excited and i ain't never done nothing like this before. usually i make up weird songs and use my barnyard electronic aesthetic. so this is the first record i've ever done that i would consider "over the plate" as it were. most of my pitches are knuckleballs or i throw right at the listener's head a bunch, but this one is a fast ball right down the middle. acoustic band, acoustic music. most of the tunes i've been working on since before i could legally drive a car. thank you for listening! lots of shows this year. wherever you at, i'll be there.
here's a brand new cd for you. the story goes, ten years ago i put out this record called get myself together. it was kinda my last acoustic type effort heretofore [i launched pretty heavily into my electronic period]. jenni and brian over and Eight 30 records there in austin were fans of that record. actually i have received a fair amount of fan mail in general about it. and they had the idea to revisit those songs in an acoustic way. the label that originally released the cd went out of business and the original cd is out of print. i seen one on eBay for like 40 bucks or some such. it was kind of a bit of work to remake it, because i had already built that house once so to speak. and i had to re-conceptualize everything. however, in the cycle of write, record, go play...sometimes..you play the songs for awhile and you learn more about them, how they want to be played. and sometimes that can take you several years. so, to be frank, i had learned quite a bit about the songs in the ten years since. they hung around and we kinda became old friends. though sometimes i think i pissed them off and they would stay away for a spell. so it was a bit like some sort of sporadic family reunion, a bit awkward in places, and funny in others. i never would have come up with the idea of re-recording something in a million years. the end result was really fun and i think it makes a good listen. i practice and take lessons so i had ten more years of woodshedding under my belt as i re-tackled the program herein. i hope you enjoy these songs. if you like them, maybe you would tell others about them. all of my stuff goes by word of mouth really. you can find the record in my store here, and at all the usual outlets for such behavior. if you come to one of my shows, i'll write on them for you.
After forty years of playing the banjo, Danny Barnes finally seems to be getting the hang of it. Though he has fused punk, electronica and a relentless drive in an exploratory take on the instrument that is truly unique, he still managed to win the "Steve Martin Award For Excellence In Banjo And Bluegrass." L4LM's own Rex Thomson had a chance to sit down and talk with the innovator himself, and learned Barnes's thoughts on songwriting, the rewards of giving it your all and value of limitations.
Read on to learn more about this exciting bluegrass musician!
As if dedicating your life to an instrument like the banjo wasn’t sufficiently avant-garde, the winner of this year’s Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass is a musician recognized for his experimental approach to that seemingly quaint stringed instrument. Danny Barnes, the Texas-based banjo player and a founder of Bad Livers, the nonconformist roots-music group, has been named the recipient of the Steve Martin Prize, its organizers said; in a news release, they hailed Mr. Barnes as “one of bluegrass music’s most distinctive and innovative performers,” and for the “raw and unpolished musical breadth of his compositions” that have “propelled him across the industry today.”
Mr. Barnes, who studied audio production at the University of Texas at Austin, has recorded and performed with artists like Bill Frisell and the Dave Matthews Band. He is also the innovator of a musical aesthetic he calls “Barnyard Electronics” (sharing the title of one of his solo records), and which he performs in live solo shows using a banjo and his own computer software.
The winner of the Steve Martin Prize is given a cash award of $50,000 and a bronze sculpture created by Eric Fischl. Its previous recipients include Eddie Adcock, Jens Kruger and Mark Johnson.
"this happened to me last week. i was taken by complete surprise. it's really a wonderful thing to be recognized by steve and the board. thank you all very much!"
barnyard electronics coming at you, high and inside on a 3-2 count. this is the second full album of my music to come out this year [it’s mid june] on minner bucket records.
i’ve been feeling particularly inspired in the lab [my term for the permanent minimalist recording studio/research facility that covers my whole house]. this project was made in a software called renoise, a tracker-based DAW [look it up]. in a sense, it’s a giant sampler and you work off of start times and processing, rather than the linear way most DAWs work [which emulate a multi-track tape machine with the horizontal strips of representational waveforms]. renoise actually works vertically! more and more, i really appreciate the workflow of the old MPC types of setup [the basic tool of early hip-hop]. the timing is rock solid. and it’s a very creative workflow. everything is treated as a sample, with all these little chunks of sound and where the precise start times are calculated. in order to increase the grease factor, these numbers are slipped around. renoise is very inexpensive and great. it takes a little getting used to, but you can work really fast once you learn the hotkeys.
of course there’s my own bit of lo-fi experimental componentry thusly employed, in regard to the architecture of the music herein. my friends jack boeger, dave matthews, garey shelton, and max brody were very encouraging to me. this record is to be played loud on a good set of headphones while you tune out some rampant injustice. personally i burned it to cassette. my hope is that you have that moment were your mind kinda goes blank and you get lost in the sound and you feel like you are in kind of a dream or a weird movie. baba says don’t sweat the answers it won’t help you anyway.
listen here, download in various formats if you wish to.
i have been working on the barnyard electronic aesthetic for a number of years in my laboratory [a mental as much as physical space]. this new work leans more on the electronic side of things. the pieces are more soundscapes, with giant elemental, shifting blocks that make up the orchestration. it's very simple, yet constructed in a way where the motifs morph into other things, pulling the listener along. i've been really getting into programming synthesizers lately and this represents some of my work in that realm. synths give a solo person [like me] quite a bit of power. as a fan of music built around that type gear, i find it fits naturally with the banjo and things like that, creating an organic yet futuristic oeuvre.
this recording is to be used. if you have a long drive, or are working in the yard, or writing a computer program, or doing a task like that, this music is designed to pull you along, and perhaps suspend time for you so you can have a space to work, or enjoy yourself or whatever you need. i wanted to create a space where the listener felt like they had all the time in the world. that is one of the beauties of ambient forms. these pieces are all like little movies. [thank you meher baba