In-Depth With Danny Barnes On Blurring Bluegrass Lines, Winning Steve Martin Award
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!
NYTimes Blog: Banjo Innovator Wins Steve Martin Bluegrass Award
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.