Valley News -

By Diane Sieker

Musicians of Anza, John Knori raises the roof with the Barnyard Boyz


Last updated 4/20/2018 at 11:30am


Bassist John Knori is a skilled performer and stage presence.

Editor's note: Musicians of Anza is a new feature highlighting talent in the Anza and Aguanga communities. To be featured, send an email to [email protected]

One of the most beloved and popular bands in the Anza area is the Barnyard Boyz. The man behind the success of the group is none other than band creator, John Knori. Specializing in outlaw and Southern rock, country western, classic rock and more, the crew is legendary in the Anza Valley.

A recurring common bond shared by many successful musicians is an early foundation in music, often encouraged by family members. Knori is no exception – his mother got him started on his musical journey by buying lessons for flamenco music when they lived in Arcadia, California. He liked it enough but wanted to rock and roll. He learned to play the bass guitar later, and it became obvious that he had a natural talent.

In his early 20s, he met a horse trainer from Kentucky named Ed Fredricks. 

"Being a racetrack horse shoer, he hired me and heard me talking to a jockey friend of mine about a show we played a weekend before," Knori said. "He asked me what I played, and I said bass guitar. He said he was putting a country group together called 'Second Time Around.' He took me under his wing and taught me how to be a professional musician. I couldn't thank him enough. When I moved to Anza, I started the Barnyard Boyz."

Originally formed at the Santa Anita Park around 1978, friend Jeff Johnson and Knori both worked as cowboys there and started playing gigs together.

"I moved to Anza in 1989. We discovered the Copper Steel Bar and played our first gig with rattlesnake skins on our hats," Knori said. "Some of the locals did not take to us at first. The Stone brothers invited us to a fist-a-cuff in the parking lot. Welcome to Anza! But we ended up being buddies. When I moved to Aguanga, my friend Jeff came with me. We did our very first show in the hills in a chicken coop. Back then we were called the BoneYard Boyz, and someone from the audience asked if this was the Barnyard Boyz. So, Jeff and I talked, and we like the new name."

And that name stuck and became more and more popular over the years. Part of the success of the group is their complete dedication to their craft, quality sound and good ole boy essence. Down home and approachable, the band gains fans every time they perform.

Their skill has shown when they have been chosen for more high end gigs. One gig stands out to Knori.

"Opening up for Canned Heat right here at the Cahuilla Casino. They were such nice musicians, and it was a pleasure to open for them," he said. "One of the original Woodstock bands."

The current Barnyard Boyz band features John Knori on bass and lead vocals, Lou Tully on guitar and vocals, Harry Lieberman playing the drums and vocals and Duck Wagner on acoustic guitar and vocals.


John Knori's sense of humor is legendary.

Knori has recorded an album called "It's About Time." The eight-song collection was recorded in Anza at MCS Studios, produced and mastered by Knori and recording guru James Hilzman. Tunes from the album were used for an independent film called "At The Bar, We Are The Mixer."

With the band going strong, what else is there for Knori?

"Relaxing," he said. "Taking local shows that help the community. I figured we've done our duty for over 35 years. Taking it easy now."

For more information on John Knori's Barnyard Boyz, music and coming events, visit them on Facebook at

For available show dates and bookings, call John Knori at (909) 732-8116, or email Yvonne Knori at [email protected]

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at [email protected]


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