Henry Barnes was born in the beautiful Pomona Valley and grew up in the hills of La Verne, CA before moving to Claremont in high school. His father, Dick Barnes, taught creative writing at Pomona College and both of his parents were part of the Claremont folk and jazz music scenes in the latter half of the twentieth century. Henry took piano lessons in Pomona College’s Thatcher Music Building the first year it was built in 1970, but ended up gravitating towards the guitar.
Henry has been in many local bands over the years, including Man is the Bastard with Aaron Kenyon, but since the late 1990s his Amps For Christ project has been his main creative focus.
Barnes is also a talented luthier (guitar-maker) and engineer. As he describes, “I have made from scratch many acoustic and electric stringed instruments. Around 1979 I also started learning how to build various types of amplifiers. Through these building experiments, I learned about the potential of electronic sounds that eventually led to early Amps For Christ noise boxes that I use in my performances. Later on, I rented a workspace at the College Business Park where many artists and musicians established their working studios. The Folk Music Center needed another luthier, so I was hired in April of 2002 and have been at the Folk Music Center ever since.”
“Memorable past recollections of Claremont include the Claremont Forum. It used to be in the old Claremont Courier building on College Avenue just south of the railroad tracks, but is now condos. Back then, Amps For Christ first starting playing in that wonderful alternative arts venue.”
Photography by Mark Takeuchi