Tales Episode 11: David Barnes

It is believed that Jazz evolved from the blues. I think we are all in agreement with that statement. What I don’t think we are clear on are the feelings that surround the music and just how it has truly influence all the music that’s played today.

What is Blues? There is an internet full of descriptions of the Blues, what it is and what it is not. Just click on the What is the Blues link here and read for yourselves……I am not going to take on that issue in this post because for me, the blues cannot be found in its definition. Perhaps to define it helps us know of its structure, its origin – but what it is?

Whatever it might mean to you, the 12 bar blues changes invokes a remembrance of roads taken not because they are easy, but because they get you to where you need to be in the best way possible. Those chord changes and progression seem to elicit from both the performer and listener, all capabilities of human emotions.

Some people are mistaken in thinking that just by playing these changes it will automatically connect to those sentiments. This is where the definition ends and the truth begins. It takes an adroit interpreter that is connected to the language and can translate it. David is an interpreter of the highest caliber. The Blues in this sincere player’s expert hands, becomes exactly what the man is, a gentle, compassionate, wicked sense of humor, soul searcher.

David A. Barnes has taken the harmonica and found a unique and captivating voice in this small portable free reedwind instrument. The history of the harmonica is a intriguing one. It is told that Abraham Lincoln carried a harmonica in his pocket. One thing I can be pretty certain of is that I don’t think good ole Abe could blow like David.

In my opening to the show I mention that I came upon a surprisingly large number of phenomenal musicians who don’t have their own websites. No Myspace page or LinkedIn account. As you search you find there’s very little information about them on the internet, maybe some bits and pieces here and there and if you’re lucky they might have Facebook account. But the lack of “Internet exposure” doesn’t take away from the obvious fact that they are indeed talented, adept artists, gifted innovators that influence and shape the direction of how we hear and experience music.

David is one such imaginative musician. I am very grateful to know him, to have played with him and I look forward to us working together in the near future.

I’ve included at the end of this bio, video links for you to check out David and see in him in action. How grateful are we to YouTube? Can I get an amen?

“The blues are the roots and the other musics are the fruits. It’s better keeping the roots alive, because it means better fruits from now on. The blues are the roots of all American music. As long as American music survives, so will the blues.”
— Willie Dixon

About David A. Barnes

A harmonica player for more than 4 decades, New York City native David A. Barnes has been mainly associated with guitar legends, Vernon Reid and James Blood Ulmer, having recorded three critically acclaimed CDs with them. The first effort, Memphis Blood was recorded at the famed Sun Studio and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2001. The follow up, No Escape From The Blues was recorded in Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studio in NYC and was named one of the 50 best albums of 2003 by Rolling Stone Magazine. 2007 saw the release of Bad Blood in the City: The Piety Street Sessions recorded in New Orleans with the concept encompassing Blood’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

David was also featured with Reid, Ulmer and Eagle Eye Cherry in The Soul Of A Man, Wim Wenders’ contribution to Martin Scorcese’s miniseries, The Blues on PBS. He is has been a member of Michael Hill’s Blues Mob and is featured on their latest release: Goddesses & Gold Redux (2012). David has had the pleasure of recording with the Yohimbe Brothers, Tomás Doncker, Doc French, Kevin Jenkins, the Gowanus Reggae and Ska Society (G.R.A.S.S.) and has opened for B.B. King, Johnny Winter, Koko Taylor & Robert Cray. He has shared the stage with such blues luminaries as Johnnie Johnson, CJ Chenier, Shemekia Copeland, Valerie June, Michael Powers and Hubert Sumlin. His latest recording was released on 7/8/2014 with the Tomás Doncker Band: Moanin at Midnight: the Howlin Wolf Project.

Some of the amazingly cool venues that David’s played throughout his career in addition to playing all over his home town New York City are the World Expo in Shanghai 2010; Ancient amphitheater on an island off the coast of Marseilles; from Austria to Zagreb; Lisbon, Portugal; The ‘crown jewel’ of Detroit the Fox Theater; Sicily, Italy.

Whether playing the music of Bob Marley with G.R.A.S.S, jazz with Jonathan Batiste & the Stay Human Band, blowing the blues with countless others, blending his own cognac at the Cognac Blues Festival or touring  Camus Cognac mansion walking out with a registered bottle of his very own hooch, David is known for his positive attitude, his intense playing, inventive improvisations and his deep commitment to keeping the blues alive.

Taken from David’s bio page from the man himself….
Tatum’s Dad Facebook

David in action:
David Barnes with Tomas Doncker & The True Groove All Stars at The Cutting Room “Shook Down”

Other links:

Spoonful” – Tomas Doncker band-Howlin’ Wolf E.P.

“Spoonful”- James Blood’s Memphis Blood feat. Vernon Reid 

James Blood Ulmer & Vernon Reid – Rawa Blues Festival 2005

Tales from the Jazzside