When good country and American music falls into your lap, it’s an amazing thing. There’s just so much mediocre nonsense to trudge through that when you find something amusing and attention-grabbing, it’s just a relief. That’s why it was so easy to fall in love with Danny Barnes after someone passed along a copy of his album Get Myself Together.
It’s just amazing work. It’s gritty, it’s funny and it just sounds American. But even considering the crass and delightful “Rat’s Ass” and “Get Me Out Of Jail” to the hootenanny-worthy cover of “Sympathy For The Devil,” there’s a lot more to the banjo virtuoso than one would expect.
Would you guess that a man who has played with Bloodshot virtuoso Robbie Fulks rides skateboards, is a vegetarian, listens to neo-soul and punk music, and got himself a session gig on the new Dave Matthews record (which, personal feelings about DMB aside, it takes a top-notch artist to make it on one of those albums)? In an odd way, Danny is certainly a Renaissance man.
Danny Barnes – “Rat’s Ass” (from Get Myself Together)
Danny will be touring the U.S. in the fall and the winter with Jeff Pinkus of the Butthole Surfers. The tour will be in support of his next album, Pizza Box. Here are his five (in one of my favorite lists we’ve gotten to date).
1) Benny Martin – “Ice Cold Love” (from Lover Of The Town) – “I believe this is from the fifties, when Benny was kind of a star. At one time he shared management with Elvis [Col. Tom Parker]. Benny’s singing and playing are so killer on this. When he got older, my friends said he carried a ukulele with him and would sing and play it in the car when he was stuck in traffic and stuff. Listening to this I can almost see him sitting at the wheel of a big Caddy singing this and strumming a uke. I just went and visited his grave in Nashville. He played the fiddle on my vote for the greatest slab of wax ever laid down, ‘Flint Hill Special’ by Flatt and Scruggs. We miss you Big Tige. He has tons of great songs that I’m not sure folks have heard.”
2) Cutthroats 9 – “Testify” (from Live at the Casbah) – “I know very little about this band. Jeff Pinkus of the Butthole Surfers turned me onto them. The recording is very distorted. It sounds like at every level it was distorted, distorted going down and then overloaded at every other turn. This kind of music just sounds like the modern world to me. I have played at this venue and it’s kind of a punk rock … place haha! I like listening to metal and stuff as a fan because I don’t play this music and I can just rock out and not analyze it to death. This sounds really good cranked up in the Jeep with the top down. Rawk!”
3) D’Angelo – “Chicken Grease” (from Voodoo)- “I caught onto some of this neo-soul stuff a little late. Rashawn Ross suggested this to me and this cut is amazing. It’s so greasy and funky and sparse and cool. It also sounds old and new at the same time. I really like that aesthetic. Man this sounds good. I love to play this on the iPod when I’m traveling and getting burnt out. It just makes me feel good. And reminds me of home. And makes me smile. Even though I’m a vegetarian and don’t want to hurt a chicken.”
4) Down – “On March The Saints” (from Down 3) – “One of my old school punk rock A#1 brother’s bass techs for this band. I think this is Phil Anselmo’s shining moment. He’s singing about New Orleans after the flood. When my wife got sick the last time and had surgery I listened to this song blasting about three hundred times in a row. No lie. It still sounds sooo good to me and I love to blast this. I think music is better now than it ever has been. This song is a perfect example of how great metal is right now. I like Down because their songs are so good. It’s so awesome that stuff like this is out there. Riff after riff. Then another riff. More riff. Riff. Killer diller.”
5) Unsane – “This Stops at the River” (from Visqueen) – “Massive. Rock music is in such a healthy place right now with all the great stuff that’s coming out. I sure am happy as a fan that there’s so much cool stuff like this. Matt Chamberlain turned me onto these guys. We were talking about riffage and metal and stuff and he said, ‘Man have you heard Unsane?’ And he had that wild look in his eyes like, ‘Dude you gotta get that!’ So I downloaded and loved it. Sounds so great on headphones. I usually download whole albums from bands I like. I don’t really just get a song or two, I like the whole thing and then treat it like an LP and listen over and over and over. This track is a standout for me.”
“If there was more space, I’d put in Kitty Wells and Fantomas.”