Country singer Barnes leaves legacy of generosity

Without Dick Barnes, Stan DeVoe may never have gotten his start in the music business.

In 1960 DeVoe, co-founder and owner of DeVoe Entertainment Park in Gloversville, was in the Army and had just returned to the area after a tour of duty in Europe. One night, he went to see country singer-songwriter and guitarist Barnes perform at the now-closed Ranch Bar in Albany.

“I was sitting at a table, and they took a break and they came over,” DeVoe said. “And [Barnes] says, ‘I hear that you want to play bass,’ and I said I would like to learn. He taught me three chords right on the spot, and from there on I continued. I got second place one time … in an old-time fiddler’s contest, and I played mandolin, and it was all because he got me started.”

Barnes, a native of Broadalbin born Dick Tymchyn, died of ongoing health issues including kidney trouble and pneumonia on Christmas at his home in Dunlap, Tenn., where he retired in 2003.

Barnes is perhaps best known for founding and leading popular local country band Dick Barnes and Cheyenne. He is being remembered on the local music scene not just for his 60-plus year career but for giving many other local artists their starts in the business, including his son Rick Barnes, who officially took over leadership of Cheyenne in 2008.

“Absolutely, he was my teacher, that’s for sure,” Rick Barnes said. “That was always there.”

Charly Bornt, who currently performs with Country Backtracks, also got her musical start in Cheyenne. According to Rick Barnes, the band officially formed in 1981. However, Bornt remembers differently. She joined in 1980 and spent about four years in the group, she said. At the time, she was known as Charlene Dwyer.

“At the beginning of the night when he started playing, he would announce the group and the band members,” Bornt said. “And he said, ‘We’ve got an issue here; I can’t say Cheyenne and Charlene together.’ He got tongue-tied, so that’s how I ended up with Charly.”

Bornt had never sung before in her life before auditioning at a Cheyenne rehearsal in 1979. Dick Barnes’ encouragement at that audition led to a lifelong career in music.

“I went and I really didn’t do wonderful, because I was scared to death,” Bornt said. “And he said, ‘All you need is confidence. You’re doing great, you just need confidence. Without confidence, you can’t sing.’ And he was so right.”

Some of Rick Barnes’ earliest memories are of his father performing on TV and radio, he said. In the ’60s, Dick Barnes was a regular performer on “The Pete Williams Show” on WRGB-TV, where he first came up with his stage name.

“[Williams] told him that Tymchyn is not a good name for a country music singer,” Rick said. “We’ve been known as Barnes ever since.”

Drummer Rick Little said he performed with Cheyenne off-and-on since the mid-’70s, and is still currently with the group. Dick Barnes’ showmanship and outgoing personality were what made him stand out as a performer, according to Little.

“When we were playing, if he wanted more drive or more hard music, you’d see his guitar start jumping up and down, ‘Give me more, give me more!'” Little said. “That’s when you knew it was time to give him some drive behind him. He had his little ways. You could read it on the bandstand, read what was going on in his mind. It was really fun. He was just a great guy; he was a gentleman.”

Dick Barnes’ generous spirit also led him to host many benefit shows for community members over the years.

“Anybody local that needed anything – their house burned down, medical expenses due to sickness, anything that was needed,” Rick said.

One of those people was DeVoe, who suffered two strokes about four years ago.

“When I had the strokes, he was there,” DeVoe said. “And he was just a good man. I can’t – there’s not enough good that I can say for him.”