Danny Barnes Last Concert Cafe January 7, 2010
Danny Barnes is a big ole boy. In jeans and white concert T-shirt, he doesn't exactly overdress for success and comes across very much the common man. As his set began Friday night at Last Concert Café, Barnes moved around the stage like a panther who'd just been let out of his cage.
"We've been in the car all day, so we're just glad to be up here playing for y'all."
And that was about all Barnes had to say for the first 30 minutes as he tore through a huge slice of his latest album, Pizza Box.
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Whether he's whanging on something with strings or writing a tune, Barnes has always been an acerbic intellectual. Judging by his two-set performance Friday night at Last Concert Café, the always-choice picker who never stands in one spot musically for long, has moved his game into spheres of virtuosity occupied by the likes of Sonny Landreth.
Working with only a drummer and his electric guitar, Barnes assaulted an attentive audience with amped-up versions of both old songs and new. Those who were waiting around for him to emerge with a banjo were disappointed, but guitar nerds and the usual gaggle of stoners were definitely not.
Whether intricately working his way through new ones from Pizza Box or tried and true Bad Livers tunes like "Love Songs Suck," "Legend of the Sawdust Boogers" - which Barnes delivered with loose, funky, Southern-influenced sounds that made us imagine The Band with an oversized distortion box, followed by a manic, iron-fingered death-metal interpretation of "Bluegrass Breakdown" - Barnes dropped a sizzling shower of notes of almost mind-numbing proportions that indeed reminded Aftermath of Louisiana virtuoso Landreth.
And that's pretty rarefied air.