As a Texas native and one of bluegrass music’s most distinctive and innovative performers, Barnes is known for blending together different sounds in order to defy labeling. His desire to pick up the banjo stemmed from a Grandpa Jones and Stringbean concert he attended as a child. Moved by the performance, Barnes was first inspired to learn how to play the banjo at age ten. He continued his musical endeavors at the University of Texas, where he focused his studies on audio production and discovered his passion for recording music.
In 1990, Barnes founded the progressive bluegrass band Bad Livers. The group’s 1992 debut album, Delusions of Banjer garnered attention within the alternative rock and country music scene- putting them ahead of their time. Today, Bad Livers is credited with pioneering the way for the current crossover of Americana in notable bands such as Mumford and Sons and the Lumineers. Barnes began his solo career in 1998 and launched his own private record label, Minner Bucket Records, which focuses on cassette-only releases. In 2010, Barnes released the genre-defying album Pizza Box. Barnes followed that album with 2011’s Rocket, issued on ATO. It was produced by John Alagia, and features all-star drummer Matt Chamberlain and keyboardist/bassist Zac Rae.
Barnes frequently plays with artists such as guitarist Bill Frisell, Dave Matthews, and keyboardist Wayne Horvitz and has composed the scores to Richard Linklater’s The Newton Boys and (with Frisell) the documentary American Hollow. Barnes just finished tracking his upcoming album, produced by Dave Matthews, and featuring some of Danny’s close friends and colleagues Bill Frisell and Matt Chamberlain.