If you’re a longtime alt-country devotee, a detail-oriented Dave Matthews fan and/or a regular reader of GO! Magazine’s music section, you probably recognize the name Danny Barnes.
The fair-haired, perma-grinning banjo virtuoso got the attention of the first group when he founded the seminal out-there newgrass band Bad Livers in Austin, Texas, in 1990.
He entered the radar of the second thanks to the effusive fandom of jam-band messiah Matthews, who has brought Barnes in to play with his band, both live and recorded, and signed him to his own ATO Records label.
And Barnes found his way onto these pages before and after previous stops in Bend, including a spellbinding 2011 show at Maverick’s Country Bar, which I considered one of the best live performances I saw that year.
The thing is, Barnes isn’t just a bluegrass picker or a jam-friendly dude or a live powerhouse. He’s all of the above and more. For more than two decades, the guy has made it his mission to push the boundaries of banjo music, incorporating rock, funk and jazz into the instrument’s traditionally old-timey sound, not to mention electronic effects and looping technology.
Simply put, Barnes is a brilliant musician who can wriggle out of any pigeonhole with ease, and he’s a joy to watch play. He’ll do so twice this weekend at two new Central Oregon music venues: The Belfry in Sisters (tonight) and The Hideaway Tavern in Bend (Saturday).
Both shows will feature collaborative sets with Matt Sircely, a white-hot mandolinist and member of the bands Hot Club Sandwich and New Forge, as well as accompanist to David Jacobs-Strain. Barnes thinks enough of Sircely’s skills and songs that he signed him to his Minner Bucket Records label and produced his first album of original music.
Good enough for Danny is good enough for you. Get out and see ’em, and support these two new venues, too.