“My Walking Stick” is the latest blood and guts, behind your knees, love, life, death, and after life release from the legendary multi Juno Award winning blues and roots artist Jim Byrnes. This is the third album from Jim in five years since he hooked up with one of North America’s most critically acclaimed roots music producers, Steve Dawson (Old Man Luedecke, Jenny Whiteley, The Sojourners, Kelly Joe Phelps, The Deep Dark Woods). Byrnes and Dawson put together another world class band and “My Walking Stick” finds them building on the blues roots of 2004’s “Fresh Horses” and 2006’s gospel tinged Juno Award winning “House Of Refuge” as they continue exploring gospel, blues, rockabilly, country, and once again pull it all together in an original and unique way.
“You know, since I first got in cahoots with Steve I knew I'd found a great ally in genre bending and eliminating the pigeon holes often foisted on musical creativity”, says Byrnes. “I've been at this professionally for more than 40 years and I really feel that I'm only now discovering my true voice.”
The opening track “Ol’ Rattler” digs in and never lets go and the same can be said for the entire album. Moving through the border radio groove of the title track, to the 50’s vibe of “Lookin For A Love” and a slow burning version of The Band’s “Ophelia”, these are tales of wanderers (Three Shots), lost souls (Drown In My Own Tears), love (Living Off The Love You Give Me), death (What Are They Doing In Heaven Today), and redemption (One Life).
Byrnes explains further. “John Hammond tells how in talking to Muddy Waters he asked about why he wanted to become a professional entertainer and, sure, there were the references to influences; Robert Johnson, Son House, The Mississippi Sheiks, Big Bill Broonzy, but his muse turned out to be GENE AUTRY! And so on this recording we've gone all over the map with some originals, some obscure covers of all sorts, a Robbie Robertson composition, retelling the stories of John Henry and Stagger Lee in different settings, all sorts of fun stuff with some of the best damn players in the world.”
Those players are Keith Lowe on bass (Bill Frisell, Fiona Apple), Chris Gestrin on keyboards (K-OS, Randy Bachman), Jesse Zubot (Zubot and Dawson, Hawksley Workman), drummers Stephen Hodges (Tom Waits, John Hammond, Mavis Staples) and Matt Chamberlain (Edie Brickell, David Bowie) , critically acclaimed Vancouver based gospel trio The Sojourners, and of course Steve Dawson and Jim Byrnes.
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 and this time he will be bringing his “Walking Stick”. Who could ask for more than that?