Owner, producer, chief engineer and mix-master RICK BARNES of RAX TRAX RECORDING in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood is a man for all seasons. When it comes to blues music, Rick has laid down tracks for many of the best. The late great Eddy Clearwater and Koko Taylor’s late-career and last cds were cut at Rax Trax as were discs featuring Mud Morganfield, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Lonnie Brooks, Lil’ Ed & The Imperials, Buddy Guy, John Primer, Jimmy Johnson, Willie Kent, Pinetop Perkins, Otis Clay, Bob Corritore, Bob Margolin, Brother John Kattke, Billy Branch, Sugar Blue and…the list goes on.

           Rax Trax’s website profile captures Rick concisely: An accomplished musician himself, Rick built Rax Trax to be a place musicians can comfortably feel right at home. His lack of ego may cause you to not notice that he has recorded, mixed, and produced Grammy nominated and highly acclaimed work. Having been in the musical trenches for years, Rick creates two things – great music and happy clients. Like the cool uncle you wish you had, Rick treats people like family and has been a mentor to countless musicians.

           When asked to describe his strengths for recording blues bands, Barnes replied in the positive: “Comfort level. Chemistry. A band needs to feel at home and we provide that here.” He continued, “It’s a feeling that is set up in the studio and among the players. When they’re feeling it, I can feel it and when we capture that magic on tape, it’s a beautiful thing.”  

          Regarding the future, Rick says, “For the blues to grow and thrive, the next generations must pick up the torch and light new fires. Look what Ronnie and Wayne Baker Brooks have done after growing up with their father Lonnie’s music. There is great promise everywhere. Jamiah Rogers in Chicago is another example. He was on some sessions here and ignited some fireworks. It’s great to see and hear.”

          I can attest that Rax Trax will provide what is needed on the recording end for great blues music to thrive and carry on…Rick Barnes and company will continue to be on the front lines.

For info, contacts and booking see Rax Trax Recording: HTTPS://WWW.RAXTRAX.COM/.

Photo taken at Rax Trax Recording, April 13, 2021.

– Peter M. Hurley 

Mr. Hurley is a contributing photographer and writer for Living Blues Magazine and the staff photographer for Chicago Blues Network. His recent book Blues Legacy: Tradition and Innovation in Chicago, in collaboration with Blues historian and author David Whiteis, showcases his work in the field. His passion for blues music began with the Chess Studios’ sound of Bo Diddley and continues to this day.