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Danny Barnes

Dirt on the Angel – 2003 (Terminus)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Danny Barnes

Danny Barnes was a founding member of the Bad Livers, an Austin, Texas-based trio who combined elements of bluegrass, hard country and old time music with the energy of punk. And it's probably a pretty safe bet that no matter how many artist profiles you read this year, Barnes is going to be the only one who lists Nathaniel Hawthorne as one of his primary influences."'Dirt on the Angel' is inspired by Hawthorne's writing," says Barnes. "It seems some of his characters are born with a sense of out-of-place and longing for another situation."

Every time Barnes longs for another musical situation he plows right into it, whether it's a salute to journeyman infielder Trinidad Hubbard or a bizarre bluegrassy remake of Beck's "Loser" or a turn of the (20th) century instrumental ("Kitchen Floor Waltz"), Barnes is fearless in following his muse.

But don't be intimidated if your only memories of Hawthorne were being forced to read "The Scarlet Letter" in ninth grade. Barnes has a sense of humor and a playful spirit the New England author lacked. Most of this seems to concern his stomach in such belly-based tracks as "Peanut Butter is a Man's Best Friend" "Keep My Skillet Good and Greasy" and "I Likes My Chicken Hot."

Unlike Hester Prynne, the A that Barnes merits for "Dirt on the Angel" does not stand for adulterer.