Vizztone Label Group
Chris Barnes was a member of Chicago’s legendary Second City comedy troupe; and a writer and performer for Saturday Night Live, Seinfield, 30 Rock, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. He began his blues music career as an opening act at New York Cities’ “Tramps” where he would take audience suggestions and improvise on blues tunes. He released his debut “90 Proof Truth” in 2015. His follow-up recording 2017’s “Hokum Blues” established him as a sort of historian with an appreciation for songs with sexual innuendo originally recorded in the 1930’s and 40’s.
Barnes was a performer on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise #32 which sailed in February of 2019. He performed three sets which were recorded by producer Tony Braunagel and engineer Johnny Lee Schell. Vocalist Barnes was joined by Gary Hoey, guitar; Steve Guyger, harp; Sandy MacDonald, piano; A.J. Pappas, bass; Matt Scurfield, drums; Gracie Curran, background vocals; and the horn section of Mark Early, saxophone; and Doug Woolverton, trumpet.
The set list expands on Barnes’ appreciation as it includes specially selected songs which he covers as only a seasoned professional can do. The opener “Back in A Cadillac”, written by Coco Montoya and his writing partner Dave Steen, was recorded by Montoya in 2002. “You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover” is the Willie Dixon classic first recorded by Bo Diddley in 1962. “Boom Boom (Out Go The Lights)” written by harmonica player Stan Lewis was covered by harp master Little Walter in 1957. “Hungry & Horny” with new lyrics by Barnes is based on a tune by Earl King.
“I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man”, another song written by Dixon, was recorded by Muddy Waters in 1954. “Going Down” from Don Nix, originally waxed in 1969, was covered by Freddie King in 1972. “What’s Coming Next” was written and recorded by Paul DeLay in 1999. “It’s Tight Like That” and “It Hurts Me Too” are both from Hudson Whitaker a.k.a. Tampa Red, the latter from 1940. Big Bill Broonzy’s “Keep Your Mind On It” was recorded in 1935.
“I Drink Alone” written by George Thorogood appears on Thorogood’s 1985 album “Maverick”. Greg Allman’s “Whipping Post” appeared on the Allman Brothers self-titled debut in 1969. “Raise Your Hand” written by Eddie Floyd, Steve Cropper, and Al Bell first appeared on Floyd’s 1967 recording “Knock On Wood”.
This is an outstanding performance from vocalist Barnes who seems to bridge the gap from a novelty act to something much more. He certainly has earned the attention of the blues community.