Photo by Susan English
I first happened upon Music City singer-songwriter Jon Byrd in 2010 at the marathon “Gram National” event celebrating the music of the late Mr. Parsons at The 5 Spot. After enjoying Byrd’s set and having a brief chat, I was led to further discover the music of one of Nashville’s great classic songwriters. His 2007 record “Byrd’s Auto Parts” has long been a favorite of mine. As Jon likes to call his music, it’s “Real County,” and I sure agree.
On July 16, Jon will release a new EP titled “Me and Paul” which is a reference to the stripped-down nature of the record which features just Jon and pedal steel wiz Paul Niehaus. The EP takes to the studio some of what the duo has presented live on a regular basis over on the East Side at Dee’s. Watch for the future classic, “I’ll Be Her Only One,” that Jon wrote with fellow Nashvillian Kevin Gordon. There’s also a great cover of the Louvin Brothers’ “Cash on the Barrelhead” which many of us know through the Gram Parson’s cover.
Well thank you Mr. Byrd for giving us these 11 answers and I look forward to reconnecting with you out in the wilds of Music City real soon. In the meantime, here’s a fresh stream of an entire show of Jon and Paul from Dee’s from just a few nights ago.
Where are you from originally, when did you move to Nashville and why?
I’m from a small town in south Alabama (Harper Lee’s home county) and a college town (Tuscaloosa). Both places deeply inform my consciousness and my music. I moved to Nashville in 2001 as a “sideman” to become a better songwriter. Only after failing to convince numerous artists what they should be doing with their songs did I reluctantly decide to become a front man.
What are the first and the last records you bought, and where did you buy them? Were they CD, vinyl or digital?
My first album was purchased in Birmingham. I was there to visit my father who was in the TB sanitarium. I begged to see A Hard Day’s Night. Saw it twice, then went to a record store where I bought The Beatles’ Second Album. The most rock and roll/soul record they ever made. I was eight yrs. old. My last album purchased was a gift for my best gal, the vinyl of Springsteen’s Letter to You from Grimey’s here in Nashville.
First and last live concerts that you’ve seen?
Because of finishing Jr. High and High School in a college town, I saw countless great bands and musicians at outdoor and free events. Badfinger at one when I was 15, though I’d been wandering into shows for a couple of years before that. The last/most recent “concert” was Emmylou. First show I’ve seen in 14 months.
Whose star should be added to the Music City Walk of Fame?
Davis Raines, Adam and Shannon Wright, Stephen Simmons, Tim Carrol and Kevin Gordon.
Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza?
Sip, Portland Brew and Five Points Pizza. And that’s after nearly four years on the westside in Hellevue.
What’s your favorite record to ever come out of Nashville?
Today it’s Take That Ride by R.B. Morris. Produced by R.S. Field.
Where’s the best place to eat late night after a show?
The Awful House. Or my kitchen.
The Bluebird calls and asks you to host an “In the Round.” Pick three local songwriters to join you.
Butch Primm, Davis Raines and Amelia White.
What are your favorite music venues to play in town?
Dee’s, Springwater, then the 5 Spot. And of course, always the Station Inn. It’s my GOO.
Name a musician who you’d like to see move here.
Songwriter Dr. James Kelly from Atlanta. And Yola.
Finally, what’s in your musical future?
I have no idea. It’s in the future. I’m gonna keep writing and recording as the songs come. And performing, always I hope to play in Europe again. And Texas. And California. I miss my all music compatriots.