Jonathan Byrd & The Pickup Cowboy
On Demand
Jan 05, 2017
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: Jonathan Byrd & The Pickup Cowboy
Jonathan Byrd is half crazy and all brilliant. The raw experience embedded like buckshot in his songs and stories make them vital, undeniable; required listening. "He displays John Prine’s gift for stark little songs that tell big, complex stories, Guy Clark’s lean melodicism, Lyle Lovett’s wry mischief, and Bill Morrissey’s knack for the revealing image,” says Scott Alarik of the Boston Globe.

Jonathan is no stranger to Blue Rock Studio, having recorded two full projects there. Still, something remarkable was in the air on this particular night, his birthday, in November, 2015. He brought his sideman, wild man Johnny Waken, on electric guitar. In an act of solidarity, he placed a picture of fellow bandmate and cellist, Paul Ford, onstage on an empty chair. Paul was back in North Carolina going through a critical health crisis.  And it seemed Jonathan played and sang with an extra degree of fierceness on this night.

Byrd grew up singing in the Southern Baptist church, where his father preached and his mother played piano. After four years in the Navy, he returned to home to play in rock bands. It was at an old-time fiddle festival in the mountains of southwest Virginia where his writing began to change. Assimilating the sounds of southern traditional music, Byrd wrote new songs in an ancient style. 
Byrd’s 2008 release, The Law and the Lonesome is already a classic - it's what might have happened if Townes Van Zandt had made a record with Doc Watson. Cackalack, in 2011, is an homage to his home state of North Carolina and hit #1 on Roots Music Reports folk radio chart, #22 on the Americana chart, was the #91 Americana album of 2011, and made John Platt’s “Best of 2011. The Barn Birds, his masterful 2013 album release of duets with Chris Kokesh, was made at Blue Rock Studio. Most recently, Jonathan won a 2011 SESAC Americana Music Award (beside Bob Dylan, Seth Avett, Hayes Carll, Jim Lauderdale, and Colin Brooks).

“What a treat to hear someone so deeply rooted in tradition, yet growing in his own beautiful way.” –Tom Paxton

“One of the finest song-crafters on either side of the border”  –David Newland, Roots Music Canada

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