Jim Byrnes

Category : Calgary Bluesfest
Aug. 29, 2020 at 9:01 a.m. MDT

SONG: Nadine

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 naive, 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 and movie 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 has produced five 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 and Steve were back again in 2014 to celebrate a decade of great musical collaborations and the 250th anniversary of St. Louis Missouri. St. Louis Times is Byrnes' most personal record to date. Reminiscences of his childhood home of St. Louis are expressed through his original compositions as well as versions of songs he grew up with that were recorded by St. Louis musicians. The sheer joy you can hear in the music Jim Byrnes and company create is the real reason to celebrate. Jim Byrnes is a living musical treasure and this is his best record yet. And, that's saying something!

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?


2014 Maple Blues Awards (Best Male Vocalist - I Hear The Wind in the Wires)
2011 Juno winner (Blues Album of the Year - Everywhere West)
2011 Western Canadian Music Awards nominee (Blues Album of the Year - Everywhere West)
2010 Western Canadian Music Awards Winner (Blues Album of the Year - My Walking Stick)
2006 Juno Award winner (Blues Album of the Year - House of Refuge)
2006 Canadian Folk Music Award winner (Best Contemporary Singer - House of Refuge)
2006 Canadian Folk Music Award winner (Producer / Steve Dawson - House of Refuge)
2006 Maple Blues Awards 2-time winner (Recording of the Year - House of Refuge)
2006 Maple Blues Awards 2-time winner (Best Male Vocalist - House of Refuge)
2006 Leo Award nominee for music video (Just a Pilgrim)
2006 Champion for Kids Award - St. Louis Variety Club
2005 Maple Blues Awards 3-time nominee for Fresh Horses
2004 Juno Award nominee (for Fresh Horses)
2004 Western Canadian Music Awards 2-time nominee for Fresh Horses
2003 Heart Award - Variety Club of BC
1995 Inducted BC Entertainment Hall of Fame
1995 Juno Award winner (Blues/Gospel Album of the Year - That River)
1982 Juno Award nominee (Best New Artist)