Jim Byrnes was born in St. Louis, Missouri – that’s blues country. He grew up on the city’s north side. One of the neighbourhood bars had Ike and Tina Turner as the house band. As a teenager going to music clubs, he and his buddy were often the only white people in the place. “We never had any problems. We were too naïve, and had too much respect for the music and culture – they knew it, they could tell.”
By age thirteen, Jim was singing and playing blues guitar. His first professional gig was in 1964. Over the years, he has had the great good fortune to appear with a virtual who’s who of the blues. From Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker to Taj Mahal and Robert Cray, Jim has been on the blues highway for 45 years.
Byrnes moved to Vancouver, BC in the mid-70s after years of drifting, working odd jobs and playing music. In 1981 he put together a band that became a staple of the local music scene. In 1986 the Jim Byrnes Band played 300 nights.
Jim Byrnes’ fame as an actor has grown immeasurably from his too-numerous-to-mention TV roles, highlights including television’s Wiseguy and Highlander series, and his national variety show The Jim Byrnes Show.
Jim has proven that a serious car accident in 1972 has done anything but hinder him. Despite two swipes with death and some pretty hard knocks, Byrnes has still managed to rack up an enviable string of credits, both on and off-screen.
Jim’s first love, however, is the blues. His evocative, smoky vocals are found in a truth that doesn’t come overnight. In 1981 he released ‘Burnin’’, followed in 1987 with I’ve Turned My Nights into Days and 1995’s Juno-Award winning That River.
Jim’s has produced four outstanding albums in six years since he hooked up with Steve Dawson, one of North America’s most critically acclaimed roots music producers. 2004’s Fresh Horses and 2006’s gospel tinged Juno Award winning House Of Refuge set standards that aren’t often equalled.
My Walking Stick was the 2009 release … a blood and guts, behind your knees, love, life, death, and after life release from the multi award winning Mr. Byrnes. Jim and Steve continued to explore the gospel, blues, rockabilly, and country genres, and once again pull it all together in an original and unique bluesy way.
A little more than a year later, the same team got together and produced Everywhere West. A salute to Jim’s origins and influences, the CD sprinkled three exciting new originals in amongst tracks by seminal blues artists.
In 2012, Jim decided to record I Hear The Wind in the Wires, an album of songs from the golden age of country music – many of which he’s been listening to for all his life. This time around, he turns back the hands of time to take his listeners into the world of country music, but it’s not the kind of country we’ve heard on the radio any time this century. This is surely the most natural, satisfying and downright joyous album of Byrnes’ lengthy career. Steve Dawson is back in the saddle again as producer and multi-instrumentalist (electric, acoustic, slide, pedal steel and baritone guitar, banjo, ukelele). To hear these two men celebrate the music of Buck Owens, Ray Price, Hank Williams, Marty Robbins and other country music legends is a rare and exhilarating experience.
Jim Byrnes plays 150 dates a year in North America and Europe. He will continue to bring his music to stages all over the world. Who could ask for more than that?