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DANNY BARNES —STOVE UP (Wendell Records)


Banjo playing singer-songwriter and more, Danny Barnes is one of those acts overflowing with talent. Some of you will remember him from his days in the Bad Livers, here Barnes (banjo, vocals, 12-string guitar on “Get it While You Can”) revisits some traditional including a couple from Don Stover (the album in fact is a homage to the late banjo great), a fabulous take of Jagger and Richards’ “Factory Girl” (done in a style not unlike Flatt & Scruggs), Earl Scruggs, Grandpa Jones, Leon McAuliffe, Davis & Shelton and Certain and Stacy plus others; three of his are thrown in for good measure.


On talking about the recording, Tim O’Brien in his relatively brief liner notes he writes ‘these are live and lively performances where you can almost hear the musicians smile’. You better believe it too. Charged with tempered energy and when called upon, great sensitivity as all pickers involved put in a terrific shift. Barnes’ vocal interpretation of the aforementioned “Factory Girl” like with a bunch more enjoy stellar fiddle, upright bass guitar ( producer Nick Forster; he also adds choice mandolin on “Get While You Can”. Chris Henry handles the mandolin duties on the album and boy doesn’t he cook up a storm. Stood alongside the unbelievable exploits of Carter he could not help but be inspired. Make no mistake about it this is a terrific band. Barnes is partnered by Carter on banjo fiddle duets “John Hardy” and “Bill Cheatum” and with the likes of such rousing tracks as “Eight More Miles To Louisville”. Plus with Carter according to Barnes’ in his treasured liner notes; ‘Jason sawed his fiddle in half on this and had to tape if back’ “Paddy On The Turnpike”. Plus the likes of “Ole Liza Jane” as the band and him play the dickens out of it! And one from learnt from Flatt & Scruggs “Fireball Blues”, and with it goes on. Throw Barnes a tune and he could fashion it to fit his style perfectly, and though he doesn’t always do it traditional bluegrass style (he has previously recorded jazz and dabbled in electronic music) it is steeped in values of old this time and a lot more too. You could pick ten people and they could well pick ten different tracks as the one for them, the 17-track selection is that good. Others worth checking out included his wondrous working of Stover's “Rockwood Deer Chase” (lots of great mandolin), jaunty piece “Steel Guitar Rag” (listen out for some delightful guitar work by Forster) and of course his own vocal composition “Charlie” and others too many to mention.        


Don’t be surprised if come bluegrass award time this album isn’t at least among the nominations, and more than likely figure in a few categories (and be voted the winner!). If he is he will be hard pushed to have a greater smile than when making this album.   


                                                Maurice Hope 

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March 2018

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