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Posts Tagged ‘Bluegrass Today’

Danny Barnes. Photo by Jame Curtis.

Danny Barnes. Photo by Jame Curtis.

Danny Barnes Wins Sixth Annual Steve Martin Prize For Excellence In Banjo And Bluegrass,
Set to Release Got Myself Together November 2015 Through Eight 30 Records

“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.”
The New York Times, Dave Itzkoff

“Saying that Danny Barnes plays the banjo is like saying Lionel Messi kicks a soccer ball. Barnes doesn’t just play the banjo—he plucks it, thrums it, claws it, bashes it, runs it through processors, plays it backward, drenches it in reverb, and layers it over computerized drums, distorted guitars, and weird chicken sounds. His prowess with the instrument makes him a deserving winner…”
Texas Monthly, Michael Hall

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. Barnes will be releasing a new solo record, a ten year anniversary re-recording of an earlier album called Get Myself Together [2005]. The new release, Got Myself Together, comes out in November on Eight 30 Records. He will be on the road solo this fall and winter; stay tuned for dates to be announced.

A Texas native now living northwest of Seattle, Barnes is one of bluegrass music’s most distinctive and innovative performers. He is known for blending together different sounds which defy labeling while redefining the banjo’s perceived image in a wide-ranging and four-decade long career. 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 approach he calls “Barnyard Electronics” (which is also the name of his 2007 album) 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. His live shows involve a computer program he built in max/msp and a banjo.

Recently, he was recording in his home lab when a package arrived from Steve Martin with a letter notifying him that he was the recipient of 2015 recipient of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass.

IMG_5787“The day that package came from Steve, I had gotten up at like 4am when it’s real quiet and I can get recording done. When FedEx came, I was kind of preoccupied. I saw that it was from Steve and thought, ‘Oh cool… he’s sent me one of his records.’” says Barnes in an interview with John Lawless in Bluegrass Today. “But then I thought… ‘Hey, I never gave him my address.’ I had met Steve earlier this year at a show with the Steep Canyon Rangers, and we got to talk a little bit, but I didn’t remember giving him my address. When I opened it up and saw what it was, I was completely stunned. I was speechless. I’ve never won anything, and it amazes me that anyone knows what I am doing.”

The Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass provides the winner with an unrestricted cash prize of fifty-thousand dollars, as well as a bronze sculpture created specifically for the prize by noted artist Eric Fischl. Created to bring recognition to an individual or group for outstanding accomplishment in the field of five-string banjo or bluegrass music, the prize highlights the extraordinary musicianship of these artists and bluegrass music worldwide. The winner is determined by a board consisting of J.D Crowe, Pete Wernick, Tony Trischka, Anne Stringfield, Alison Brown, Neil V. Rosenberg, Béla Fleck, and Steve Martin. Previous winners have included Noam Pikelny (2010), Sammy Shelor (2011), Mark Johnson (2012), Jens Kruger (2013), and Eddie Adcock (2014).

When asked by Bluegrass Today what he would be doing with the honorarium from his Steve Martin Prize, Danny says, “I’m going to invest it back into the art, back into the banjo community. I have a new record coming out in November, and then I’m thinking of doing a straight up banjo record. I’ve never done that, and I’ve started talking to some of the guys I’d like to have play on there with me. I also have an idea for a contemporary piece for banjo, and I hope to finally get to work on that.”

Got Myself Together hits the streets this fall with another in the works this winter for a straight up banjo record, and he’s also working on a suite of contemporary music for banjo and tuba. Barnes has released over ten albums and has been featured on over 50 others. His most recent album, Junior Sampled [June 2014], is available to stream at http://dannybarnes.bandcamp.com/album/junior-sampled.

In addition to the above, Barnes will be releasing an avant garde “kinda” noise cassette coming out on his own label, Minner Bucket Records which specializes in limited run cassettes, for Cassette Store Day (10/17/15). Only 50 will be made.

Barnes says, “I’ve been at this a pretty long time. The main thing I use to get my ideas across has been the banjo. It has an unusual sound and is capable of a wide range of expression, however it isn’t very developed yet, in terms of what is being done with it in a current macro sense. It’s untapped.”

His 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. He’s collaborated and shared stages with the likes of Bill Frisell, Yonder Mountain String Band, Robert Earl Keen and Dave Matthews, as well as wailed on a flying V guitar with members of the Butthole Surfers.

Stay up-to-date with news from Danny Barnes at www.dannybarnes.com, twitter.com/Wildknees, and Facebook.com/DannyBarnesBanjo.  Also feel free to ask him a question at http://dannybarnes.com/ask-barnes.

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Town Mountain’s “Leave the Bottle” Releases TODAY, Sept 4th, Through Pinecastle Records

Debuts at #4 on Bluegrass Today’s Radio Charts!

“Leave the Bottle” is now available on iTunes

To celebrate release week, Town Mountain is offering the title track as a FREE download through next Tuesday!

LISTEN to a fantastic interview (and some great tunes) with Town Mountain’s Jesse Langlais as he talks with Sloane Spencer from Country Fried Rock about the new album, musical influences and more!

What the Press is Saying about “Leave the Bottle”

“I’m not sure what the definition of bluegrass would be in words alone, but if that definition was set to music, it would probably sound something like Town Mountain’s new Pinecastle Records release, Leave the Bottle… I could go on. There are no duds, and no filler songs on this project, which was produced by Mike Bub. But you get the point. This, my friends, is how bluegrass is supposed to sound.” —David Morris, Bluegrass Today

“Kudos to Town Mountain for keeping the traditional spirit of the genre alive while at the same time pushing the boundaries.” —Jeffrey Sisk, The Daily News

“It’s been a long and occasionally arduous climb, but the view from atop Town Mountain is starting to look mighty fine indeed.” —Steve Wildsmith, Daily Times

“On Bottle, that mix manifests itself in songs about everything from cabin fever (‘Greenbud on the Flower’) to double murders (‘Away From Home’)” —Ashley Melzer, Indy Week

“Town Mountain take a steady-handed approach to bluegrass, bass lines and guitars chugging along patiently as mandolin, fiddle and banjo add prickly texture to the higher registers.” —Jordan Lawrence, Shuffle

“Faithfully mirroring its Western North Carolina home base, the band Town Mountain blends traditional and progressive elements… They’ve written new songs about running from the law, songs about being on the road (involving the law), songs about love (more often being on the losing end of it), songs about the rat-race.” —Robin Tolleson, Bold Life

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Town Mountain’s years of touring have created a mature well-traveled sound, a telepathic pickin’ style filled with mesmerizing interplay, and intoxicating rhythms that energize every tune. On Leave the Bottle, released TODAY, September 4th, the band presents 11 original band-member written tunes and one cover. One listen to their instantly memorable songs, and it’s plain to see why Grammy-winner Mike Bub would align with the group to produce Leave the Bottle as well as 2011’s Steady Operator, both released through Pinecastle Records. Banjo player extraordinaire and longtime member of the Sam Bush Band, Scott Vestal, also joined the team by engineering the new album, which was recorded at Digital Underground Studio in Nashville, TN.

Town Mountain is Phil Barker on mandolin & vocals, Robert Greer on lead vocals & guitar, Jesse Langlais on banjo & vocals, Bobby Britt on fiddle, and Jon Stickley rounds them out with his steady bass and rock-solid guitar & vocals.

www.TownMountain.net

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