The pole star for the constellation of bluegrass bands — progressive, transgressive and otherwise — rotating across the Del Yeah! festival is, of course, Delano Floyd McCoury, arguably the genre's finest tenor singer this side of Jimmy Martin, RIP. McCoury and his band, anchored by sons Ronnie and Robbie, play bluegrass fast, hard, high and lonesome, with insane fiddling from Jason Carter and mind-bending mandolin from Ronnie. But it's Del, a patriarch who delivers gospel hymns and secular hits by the likes of Richard Thompson and Bob Dylan, who makes the band the keeper of the blue flame it is.
Part Southern gentleman, part humble artist, Barnes is being more than a bit self-effacing with this statement. Widely regarded as one of the most innovative and genre-bending artists of his craft, Barnes’ musical interests are both varied and adventurous, and he incorporates that versatility into progressive approach to an instrument that is musically polarizing and steeped in tradition. Although he demonstrates an appreciation for the history of the bluegrass, country, and folk music from which the banjo’s reputation was born, his inventive take is what truly separates him from his contemporaries…using the banjo as his ‘weapon of choice’ to play non-traditional music like rock, fusion, and jazz with electronic percussion and loop elements.
‘Lust for Life’ was the first song I wrote for the record, but it was kind of a Rubik’s Cube. I felt like it was a big song but… it wasn’t right. I don’t usually go back and re-edit things that much, because the songs end up sort of being what they are, but this one song I kept going back to. I really liked the title. I liked the verse. John Janick was like, ‘Why don’t we just go over and see what Max Martin thinks?’ So, I flew to Sweden and showed him the song. He said that he felt really strongly that the best part was the verse and that he wanted to hear it more than once, so I should think about making it the chorus.