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JONATHAN BYRD is “one of the top 50 songwriters of the last 50 years,” says Rich Warren of WFMT in the Chicago Tribune. Scott Alarik of the Boston Globe says, “This rootsy North Carolinian may be the most buzzed-about new songwriter in folkdom.
“This rootsy North Carolinian may be the most buzzed-about new songwriter in folkdom. 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.”
— Scott Alarik, Boston
“Another one of those cats that qualifies as 'one of the heaviest cats you probably never heard of, Byrd is running hard to be the folkie's folkie. The easiest way to describe him to the uninitiated for quick understanding is that he's like a dyed in the wool North Carolinian John Koerner. Sly, subversive and able to say more in two words than most other people can say in a novel, Byrd is clearly one of the tent poles of contemporary folk music. He sounds like he's straight from the back porch but he's taken a long, hard look at life and knows how to bring it into focus. This...is going to set your ears on fire, even if you aren't a folkie.”
— Midwest Record
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.
After 10 years as a full-time touring songwriter and 7 acclaimed albums, it seems this native of Cackalacky is getting the attention he deserves.
"I started touring full-time in 2000, realizing that I could do it as a solo performer and actually make a living. Of course, that's what every other singer/songwriter in America was doing, too, but I didn't even know what a singer/songwriter was, so that didn't bother me. I thought I was a folk musician. Over time, I realized that folk got cross-dressed and don't mean what it used to mean anymore. I think my friend Aengus Finnan said it better than anybody I've heard yet, "It's a style of presentation." So that's just it, as long as you don't put on the razzle-dazzle and shake your ass in a sequin skirt, you can be a folk musician. Sit there on a stool and play your tuba, tell a story once in a while and wear some Birckenstocks. Everybody will think you're a folk musician.
Texas is a huge influence on my writing. "The Law and the Lonesome" is what might have happened if Townes Van Zandt had made a record with Doc Watson. Tamara Kater of Canada's venerable folk mag Penguin Eggs called "The Law and the Lonesome" her "album of the decade." Co-produced by the brilliant Chris Bartos in Toronto, "The Law and the Lonesome" features a couple of co-writes with my friend Corin Raymond. We wrote the title track together, which was featured in a songwriting class at Vanderbilt University in Nashville."
“Jonathan's delightful, substantive songs are rich with imagery and textures of influences from Appalachian, country, early American balladry and old timey folk music. A stalwart of modern folk music, Jonathan is constantly evolving in new musical directions and each incarnation has proven to be masterful.”
— Uncle Calvin's Coffeehouse, Dallas, Tx