Chris ‘Bad News’ Barnes is a live performer in every sense of the word. After logging over 2,000 stage shows with Chicago’s legendary Second City comedy troupe, Barnes has brought that expertise to the Blues concert stage.
Barnes specializes in Hokum Blues, a particular song type of American blues music. Hokum refers to a humorous song which uses extended analogies or euphemistic terms to make sexual innuendos. This trope goes back to early blues recordings, and ‘Bad News’ is on a mission from God, to resurrect the art form.
He started his comedic blues career at the tender age of 17, as the opening act at Terry Dunnes iconic NYC Blues Club, Tramps, where he would improvise original blues tunes based on audience suggestion, with wild harmonica riffs. Barnes opened for legendary Blues acts like Koko Taylor, Pinetop Perkins, Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith & Hound Dog Taylor. He then went on to write for Jim Belushi on Saturday Night Live, writing “Rappin Jimmy B” with Tom ‘Bones’ Malone penning the music.
Barnes then moved to Chicago to become a mainstage cast member with the Famed Second City Comedy Troupe and also wrote and recorded the satirical song “The Prez Rap” about the 1984 presidential elections which was produced by Dave Mason (TRAFFIC).
Then it was on to Hollywood were Barnes opened The Second City Santa Monica Theatre and also produced, wrote and directed The National Lampoon Lemmings II revue, performed in LA & at NYC’s Bottom Line with Chris Farley, Tim Medows, and Andy Richter, with Jimmy Vivino as Musical Director and Crispin Cioe’s Horn Arrangements.
After a successful prime time television career appearing on Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Life With Bonnie, According To Jim,and 30 Rock, Barnes has returned to his first love, the Hokum Blues.
On the Legendary.Rhythm & Blues Cruise #32, along with a crew of world-class musicians including special guest lead guitarist Gary Hoey & harmonica ace Steve Guyger, Barnes delivered three amazing knockout shows. Grammy Award-winning producer Tony Braunagel and engineer Johnny Lee Shell of Ultratone Studios and the Phantom Blues Band, who were also on board playing with Taj Mahal, were able to record and capture the lightning energy of these shows.
We’re proud to present, along with VizzTone Label Group and BratGirlmedia, his fiery rendition of George Thorogood’s “I Drink Alone.”
Chris ‘Bad News’ Barnes
*Feature image © John Stack Courtesy of BratGirlmedia