Jim Byrnes performs two shows in Nanaimo at Diners Rendezvous June 23-24. His latest album is set for release in September.

Jim Byrnes performs two shows in Nanaimo at Diners Rendezvous June 23-24. His latest album is set for release in September.

Living the blues: Jim Byrnes performs in Nanaimo

Blues musician and actor Jim Byrnes performs favourites and songs from his upcoming album

The blues may be almost a century old, but that doesn’t mean it belongs in a museum.

The old standards of the Delta players, Chicago style and more recent Northern blues are all songs open to a musician’s own style and interpretation.

That’s just what Jim Byrnes does so that his music doesn’t feel old and dated, but fresh, new and pioneering.

“It’s gotta be live,” he said. “It’s gotta be now.”

Byrnes grew up in St. Louis, where one neighbourhood bar had Ike and Tina Turner as the house band. He learned to play guitar as a teenager, and the road of his adult life led to Vancouver in the 1970s. By 1981 he put together a house band that played more than 300 shows a year.

At the same time, Byrnes established himself as an actor, well-known for roles in Wiseguy and the Highlander series.

Byrnes returns to the music with two shows at Diners Rendezvous June 23-24.

Joining Byrnes at the Rendezvous shows is Steve Dawson, who produced Byrnes’s last five albums, including the latest one to be released in September.

“Steve makes it sound like there’s four guys playing,” Byrnes said.

The two musicians met during taping of Byrnes’s television show and Dawson returned the favour with an invitation to share a corporate gig.

“We had such a good time working together,” Byrnes said. “We love so many different styles.”

The collaboration began in 2004 with his return to recording after eight years with Fresh Horses, which won the Juno Award for best blues album. The gospel-tinged House of Refuge followed, as did another Juno Award, plus My Walking Stick and Everywhere West.

The new album will be a bit of a surprise, said Byrnes, as he and Dawson reached way back into the country music cannon for songs from the likes of Hank Williams and Marty Robinson. Complete with Byrnes’s own spin, of course.

“We’re talking the real-deal, wagon wheel,” Byrnes said.

The old country, gospel and blues music are all related, he said.

“There’s a similarity to all this music,” Byrnes said. “It’s gotta live, it’s gotta be now.”

To capture the living feel of the music, the musicians sat in the room playing as engineers recorded their efforts – on tape.

With technology, musicians no longer need to be in the same city as they send sound files over the Internet. Although gadgets like auto-tune, which can almost remove any trace of an imperfect note, are sending people back to a more organic sound.

Byrnes said that’s one reason why the blues, in all its forms, continues to be popular among new and old fans.

Byrnes continues to work in the film industry as well, having completed a few movies of the week and voice-over work for commercials and documentaries. He most recently acted in the sci-fi show Sanctuary.

Byrnes said Nanaimo holds a special place in his heart as although it was where he was involved in a car accident more than 40 years ago, it was also where he spent much of his rehabilitation and forged lasting friendships that exist today.

“It’s a really special place for me,” Byrnes said.

He said he’ll see old friends and hopefully make new ones during the concerts, set for June 23-24 at Diners Rendezvous. Bill Johnson opens the show June 23, while an acoustic Lazy Mike and the Rockin’ Recliners do so on June 24.

Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets $35/advance; $40/door. Please call 250-740-1133 for tickets.


Just Posted

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Curl B.C. chairperson Teri Palynchuk is this year’s winner of the Janette Robbins Award for leadership. Palynchuk is pictured here with the Curling Canada Foundation Cup along with past chairperson Peter Muir, left, and Curl B.C. CEO Scott Braley. (Photo courtesy Curl B.C.)
Nanaimo curling exec wins Curl B.C. leadership award

Teri Palynchuk receives Janette Robbins Award

(Black Press file photo)
RCMP: Air ambulance called to Whiskey Creek after crash involving 2 motorbikes

Both riders taken to hospital with serious injuries

Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

CVSAR search the Puntledge River following a report of an abandoned kayak. Photo, CVSAR Facebook page
Comox Valley Search and Rescue spends four hours searching for no one

Overturned kayak a reminder for public to contact officials if they have to abandon a watercraft

Most Read