|Danny Barnes & Thee Old Codgers
Things I Done Wrong
Danny Barnes: Vocals, Banjo, Guitar, Assorted Stringed Instruments, and Percussion
Jon Parry: Violin, Viola
Keith Lowe: Electric and Acoustic Bass
A native of central Texas, Danny Barnes has been playing banjo and guitar at clubs, festivals and in livving rooms for nearly three decades and is considered by many to be among the country's best songwriters and acoustic musicians. The former frontman for the legendary Austin, Texas bluegrass band The Bad Livers was reared on the traditional sounds of Flatt & Scruggs, Bill Monroe, Ernest Tubb and Jimmie Rogers. But even with his deep roots in the high lonesome sound of bluegrass and old-time music, he still views himself as a modern artist. Influenced by a wide range of musical styles, Barnes uses these styles and his own life experience to create a contemporary sound and statement. He has teamed up with bassist Keith Lowe (Zony Mash, Bill Frisell, Fiona Apple) and violinists Jon parry (Goose Creek Symphony) to form Danny Barnes & Thee Old Codgers, and their debut album is Things I Done Wrong.
Danny Barnes formed the bad livers in 1990. In line with an incredibly diverse palette for music, that runs the gamut from punk to avant-garde to jazz, he chose the Butthole Surfers’ Paul Leary to produce the Liver’s debut masterpiece, Delusions of Banjer. According to Barnes, the secret to the Liver’s success was an idiosyncractic blend of old and new, or, as he puts it, “the homework being done, but somehow making a contemporary statement with it.” The Bad livers went on to release five crictically acclaimed albums and played over 1,700 shows in the United States, Canada and Europe.
In 1999, seeking a change of scenery, Barnes relocated to Seattle, where he has established relationships and worked with an eclectic arry of musicians including Mark Pierce (Zeke) Buell Neidlinger (Ivor Stravinsky, Cecil Taylor) film composer Hummie Mann and former members of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass boys. He also began recording and touring with jazz guitarist Bill Frisell. Playing with Frisell led barnes to two supremely talented musicians, current Codgers member Keith lowe and Things I Done Wrong producer Wayne Horvitz.
During rehearsals for Frisell’s tour of European jazz festivals, Barnes met Lowe, who was on hiatus from Fiona Apple’s touring band. Barnes recalls, “We spent a month on the road in Europe and decided that we wanted to play together. He’s always in good tune and reads like hell…he’s total music. He can interpret my music, yet somehow make it his own at the same time.” Barnes would also have a chance meeting with Jon Parry during this time. Barnes was on a 2:10 AM ferryboat, returning to Seattle from a late gig. Parry approached him and said, “Hey, I’m a fiddler and I really like your music…here’s a CD of mine.” Barnes, anxious to get home and not thinking much of the encounter, thanked him and put the CD in his bag. Upon his return home, it occurred to him that the fiddler he had just met was at one time a member of the Goose Creek Symphony, a band that Barnes considers a huge influence on his own sound.
Despite rubbing shoulders with elite musicians and being a highly revered musicians himself, Danny Barnes remains one of the most humble figures in music. He’ll be the first to tell you that he’s no master; he even gets intimidated by the members of his current band, Thee Old Codgers. Says Barnes, “If I’m not really on top of my game, these guys will blow me off the stage! That’s pretty exciting. I’ve spent my whole life writing music, so it’s a real big pleasure to hear these guys playing my pieces. The guys are SO badass.”
Things I Done Wrong is a departure from barnes’ recent work with the bad livers. Steering away from the punk tendency to offend yet maintaining a steadfast, do-it-yourself work ethic, Barnes is now more focused on the songwriting process and on absorbing the talent of the world-class musicians that surround him. Bring Wayne Horvitz as producer for TIDW was an important step for barnes in realizing the potential of his compositions. Says Barnes, “Wayne is a real musician. He’s got tons of classic and avant-garde credentials. He helped me bring the musicality of the sessions up to the level of the songs.” There is a denseness and precison to the songs on TIDW that is due to the chemistry between Barnes and his bandmates. Of the albums’s two tracks written by Jon Parry, ‘Devil on the Mountain’ provides the perfect canvas for the trio to showcase their respective talents. The backing touches of guest musicians, which include Bill Frisell, Wayne Horvitz, Mike Stone, and a four piece string section, adds an overall rich texture that complements the traditional, minimalist style of the record.
Things I Done Wrong is composed of ten original tracks and two covers, a classic tune made famous by the king of Bluegrass, Jimmy Martin, and one by the 70’s glam rock band T. Rex. On why he chose these two tracks, Barnes says, “As a kid, T.Rex was one of my favorite bands. I listened to ‘Broken hearted Blues’ all the time…[Marc Bolan’s] music was pretty simple, but lyrically it was pretty out there, and he had a way of playing common phrases but they came out all weird. ‘Better time A-Coming’ is one of my favorite bluegrass songs. It has a pretty timely sentiment, methinks.”
The songs on Things I Done Wrong are about struggling and feeling alienated. ‘Everything Fades,’ accented by Frisell’s subtle and beautiful guitar work, is a tale about being forsaken by a lover, yet having the courage to hang on through faith and imagination. On the album’s title track, Barnes reveals, “Everything I done I done the hard way son/All that echoes in my mind/Like the wind beneath the pine/And I’ll make you sad and die for the time when you lie/And what chills me to the bone is the thing I did wrong.” The album’s autobiographical content stems from Barne’s poor rural heritage. “The underlying theme of the album is pathos.” He explains, “Lyrically, my music relates to the concept of trying to find dignity as a poor perdson. I’m not preaching to the choir, rather my music is for, and about, people having tough times.
Release Date: June 19, 2001
Amy K Leavell
404.817.8155 ext 102