ON BYRD lived his formative years in small town America, deep in the piney woods of south Alabama, just one county over from the birthplace of legendary country artist Hank Williams. When Jon was just eight years old, his dad was diagnosed with TB and began singing Jimmie Rogers' song "TB Blues" all around the house. That same year Jon saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and his obsession with the musical tension between country and rock was born. The very next year he was conscripted into the drum corps of his tiny school's marching band and played Booker T. and the MG's "Green Onions" while the majorettes held the cymbals and danced. There was no turning back.
After touring nationally with jangle-pop purists Tim Lee and the Windbreakers and Birmingham's Primitons in the 1980s, the 1990s saw Byrd attempting a Ph.D. in American Studies at Emory University in Atlanta… and becoming a central figure in Atlanta's infamous Redneck Underground movement as lead guitarist for the seminal and storied country band Slim Chance and the Convicts (Letters to Mama, 1993, and Twang Peaks, 1996). He also formed the hard country band the Ratchet Set as a musical outlet for his love of old trucking songs and two chord honky-tonk gems. In 1998, after 7 years of teaching and no diss, Byrd helped country traditionalist Greta Lee record her first full-length cd This Ain't Over Yet.
In 2001, he co-produced and again handled lead guitar duties on Lee's follow-up You Must Be Present to Win. That same year, Byrd relocated to Nashville, Tennessee where he quickly made a name for himself in Music City as a singularly authentic country singer and Telecaster slinger recording with such fine country and alternative country artists as the dangerously soulful Davis Raines and his Faders, Texas country singer Buck Jones, extraordinary folk-rock songwriter Stephen Simmons, and the rockabilly whirlwind Suzette and her Neon Angels. Byrd found a musical kinship performing with other fine writers and performers including Carissa Lee Broadwater, Suzanna Spring, and Ben Blankenship.
But the move to Nashville had an ulterior motive. As a sideman, Jon had been long been performing his own compositions––if only one or two a night––but now he was ready to showcase his singing and songwriting in ernest. In 2004 he debuted Byrd's Auto Parts, a rambling collective of in-demand players who set about fleshing out Jon's original material. A self-titled cd followed in 2007. The recording reflected Byrd's eclectic tastes in roots music and his fun-loving performance style, and the critics loved it: "A terrifically accomplished, versatile country singer," reported No Depression magazine.
Since then, Jon's songs have appeared on three Red Beet Records compilations––Red Beet is an East Nashville label known for their support of quality, if under-sung, songwriters like Peter Cooper and Fayssoux McLean. A duet with Amelia White, "Morning Song," was highlighted on that singer's 2009 recording, Motorcycle Dream." In the fall of 2010, Jon's composition "Silent Night" was the first single from Master Sessions, an Eric Brace and Peter Cooper recording that also featured steel guitar legend Lloyd Green and Dobro hero Mike Auldridge.
After a standing-room-only show in October 2011 at Nashville's legendary Station Inn, DOWN AT THE WELL OF WISHES was released to European radio where it reached no. 14 on the Euro-Americna Chart and began his lengthy first 5-week tour of the UK and Norway. Over the next two years Jon put together two more international tours. 2012 also saw Jon taking the lead vocal on "How to Talk to a Baby Goat" on the Grammy nominated I Love: Tom T. Hall's Songs Of Fox Hollow, a tribute to Hall and that legendary Fox Hollow recording. This recording also included Buddy Miller, Patti Griffin, Jim Lauderdale, Lloyd Green, Elizabeth Cook, Duane Eddy, and Bobby Bare.
2013 saw Jon join the ranks of full-time, touring musicians. He also managed to record a new record of 10 songs in the Outlaw tradition of celebrating the great writing of un-sung songwriting hero-pals. Each song on ROUTE 41 is penned by a dear friend and will be released in the October 2014. If you've been left cold by what passes for country singing and songwriting these days, you've found the right guy. Call it country, Americana, roots-rock, folk, or what have you, Jon Byrd delivers––honestly.
Ultimately, JON BYRD brings music lovers of all stripes out to hear great country songs sung and played with heart and soul. He's a little more accomplished now, but he's still that little kid playing for the hometown crowd.
"Americana the way it was and the way it should be." – MOJO Magazine
"Full of lovely guitar touches and brimming with clever, mordant songs" – The London Telegraph
"The thing about Byrd is that he has a well-worn and rough voice that could draw a comparison to a more countrified Leonard Cohen." – PopMatters
"A mixture of Americana and country and is spellbinding showcasing a true genius at work." – Maverick
"Byrd’s an understatedly great singer. And the songwriting… applies a fresh, sharp, Southern vocabulary. He’s understatedly great at the writing part, too." – The Nashville Scene
"Smooth, affecting, classy country… mature experience to match the vocal finesse." – Engine145.com
"Even in the rootsy arena of country musicians full of reverence for the genre's past, crafting new music doesn't have to be a regurgitation of worn clichés… Jon Byrd proves it."– Georgia Music Magazine
"Mature songwriting is married to some classy playing, whilst Jon's warm, slightly gruff but very relaxed singing holds the centre. ... Though he sings of heartbreak and regret, there's something enormously reassuring about Jon Byrd's music, a refuge in troubled times."– No Depression/Flyinshoes
"A superbly talented songwriter… on a par with other Americana stars like Prine, Snider, Crowell... a fine representation of one of the best songwriters and stylists today.” – Americana Gazette