Elwood H. Smith
He Asked For It!
APRIL 19, 2006
Rob Saunders asked if Elwood had a guitar hero when he was a beginning guitarist. He sure did. His long, tedious answer:
The Barnes' Country Jazz Label
Aside from Chet Atkins (I never did grasp fingerpicking) and Les Paul (I was in love with Mary Ford), my favorite guitarist when I began playing was George Barnes. I'd found a mono LP in the cheapo bin of the local Woolworth store in Alpena. it was called Country Jazz on the Truetone label, had a dreadful stock photo on the cover, and the vinyl was horrible with massive surface noise, but the music was pure magic. I listened to that disc over and over. His technique was and continues to be way over my head.
Barnes, largely ignored today, was a superb arranger and created some excellent duet recordings with Carl Kress and Bucky Pizzarelli, some first class cuts with a woodwind octet and a series of strange, sometimes mediocre albums with a bevy of top New York session guitarists in an attempt to get a big band sound with a band that included nine guitars, a rhythm guitar, piano, celeste, xylophones, marimbas, bongos and an assortment of timbales, maracas, tambourine and casabas. With titles like "Guitars Galore" and "Guitar Galaxies" the effect was light, fun, inventive and gimmicky. At his best, though, Barnes is one of the most distinctive swing guitar voices.
Dave Gould in the U.K. has a page dedicated to Barnes:
You'll find some interesting info there.
You can get Barnes' final recording (recorded live in July of 1977 at the Willows Theater in Concord, California) at David Grisman's site, Dawgnet. The CD is called "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and is on Grisman's label, Acoustic Disc.
Also, check out this link:
and these two CDs are still available on Amazon:
George Barnes - Amazon
Topical: The Monkey Files