JONATHAN BYRD is “one of the top 50 songwriters of the last 50 years,” says Rich Warren of WFMT in the Chicago Tribune. Scott Alarik of the Boston Globe says, “This rootsy North Carolinian may be the most buzzed-about new songwriter in folkdom. He displays John Prine’s gift for stark little songs that tell big, complex stories, Guy Clark’s lean melodicism, Lyle Lovett’s wry mischief, and Bill Morrissey’s knack for the revealing image.” Byrd grew up singing in the Southern Baptist church, where his father preached and his mother played piano. After four years in the Navy, he returned to home to play in rock bands. It was at an old-time fiddle festival in the mountains of southwest Virginia where his writing began to change. Assimilating the sounds of southern traditional music, Byrd wrote new songs in an ancient style. After 10 years as a full-time touring songwriter and 7 acclaimed albums, it seems this native of Cackalacky is getting the attention he deserves.
CHRIS KOKESH is no newcomer to the folk music scene. In her 14 years with the allwoman quartet Misty River, she became a veteran of stages including the Strawberry Music Festival (CA), the Walnut Valley Festival (KS), Sisters Folk Festival (OR), and Wintergrass (WA) and helped create the signature vocal blend of this Northwest favorite. In July 2010, October Valentine debuted on the Folk DJ charts at #20, and Chris’s stunning songwriting, crystalline vocals, tasty fiddle and solid guitar distinguish her as a stand-alone talent. Onstage Kokesh brings songs to life with a transparency that draws audiences in. She reveals the inner workings of her heart with grace and an unexpectedly wry sense of humor. Jeff Douglas or Oregon Public Broadcasting says, “Chris Kokesh is writing songs that stand up with the best. Keep an ear out for this emerging talent.”
Jonathan Byrd and Chris Kokesh met in 2007 at the Americana Song Academy, a weeklong songwriting school in Sisters, Oregon. After teaching at the Academy, Jonathan went on to play the Sisters Folk Festival where he invited Chris to play with him. They played to two encores, and Jonathan was invited back to play again the next year, a rare honor bestowed by popular vote among the festival attendees. The duo toured the Pacific Northwest and Midwest, and came back to Oregon to make their first recordings. Jonathan and Chris had to stop recording when the birds in the walls of the barn would erupt in song. They dubbed themselves the Barn Birds. In 2011, the Barn Birds re-recorded the album, this time at Blue Rock Studio in Wimberly, TX. It was recorded live and in fewer than 10 hours, captured by engineer Keith Gary, and then later mixed by John Keane and mastered by Brent Lambert. The self-titled CD is due to be released in the summer of 2013.