Jonathan Byrd plays tracks from You Can’t Outrun The Radio and talks about the benefits of recording live to tape and talks about living as a homeless man.
Also on this episode, garage rock from the The Bloodhounds, old-time gospel from The Primitive Baptist Choir of North Carolina, Shinyribs covering a Lydia Loveless tune, western swing from Lee Sims, folk-rock from Jesse Lenat, indie rock from Kelly Pardekooper, sister act harmonies from The Secret Sisters, and some classic rock from The Kinks.
- (preview) (review) Saint Dee / The Bloodhounds / Let Loose! / 3:14
- (preview) (review) Fight On Your Time Ain't Long / Primitive Baptist Choir Of North Carolina / When I Reach That Heavenly Shore : Unearthly Black Gospel, 1926-1936 [Disc 1] / 2:48
- (preview) (review) Kevin "Shinyribs" Russell - "All the Time" (Lydia Loveless) / Various Artists / While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records / 3:41
- (preview) Blues On Parade / Lee Sims / Deep in the Heart of Me / 2:38
- (preview) (review) Devil Be / Jesse Lenat / Son of a Cactus Farmer / 4:08
- (preview) Crazy Girl / Kelly Pardekooper / Milk in Sunshine / 3:07
- (preview) (review)Lonely Island / The Secret Sisters / Put Your Needle Down / 2:32
- You Really Got Me (Live) / The Kinks / Muswell Hillbillies + Katalog [Disc 2] / 3:36
More about Jonathan Byrd
- Preview You Can't Outrun The Radio by Jonathan Byrd on Amazon.
- Watch the video for "Mama's Got Wheels."
- Visit the Jonathan Byrd web site
Jonathan Byrd interview recap
The Canadian Tour
Calvin asks Jonathan about his recent Canadian tour and the highlights from that tour. He said it was a grueling 3 week tour and that he was supposed to have 3 days off between the Canadian leg of the tour and the US leg of the tour. But he got a call from a lady in White Horse, which is in Yukon. She complained to Jonathan that he was playing British Columbia, but not White Horse and Jonathan says, “That’s like saying, you’re playing New York, why aren’t you playing Denver?” But the lady gave them plane tickets to come play and so they used their time off to go playin White Horse.
Jonathan talks about how nice it was to tour with Johnny Waken who plays guitar, mandolin, and so many other instruments, including a musical saw, that they had to take a crate along with them on tour to carry all the instruments, which brought it’s own travel challenges.
Jonathan Byrd talks about how he enjoyed seeing the interior of British Columbia, including the Okanagen desert and then going to Vancouver Island, which is more like a rain forest.
Calvin notes that throughout the tour, Jonathan Byrd was posting dispatches from his travels on Facebook and his blog. But they aren’t postcard travelogues they are more like what it’s about to be a traveling musician and the tough life it is. Calvin asks how Jonathan how he finds the time and energy to do that. He says, “Sometimes I just have to say something.”
Jonathan Byrd shares a love letter he wrote to his wife about traveling to White Horse and the people he met there and how the town and area impressed him.
The Story of You Can’t Outrun The Radio
Calvin asks Jonathan to tell the story of how You Can’t Outrun The Radio came to be. He says, “This was in 2009 in November. I was touring with my friend Corin Raymond, a great writer in Toronto, originally from northern Ontario. Actually 5 hours or so from Winnipeg. Corin and I played the Green Room in Montreal with Graham Playford. The Green Room has since burned down. We had a three band bill. It was Graham Playford, Corin Raymond, and Jonathan Byrd. And while I was on stage I was playing my songs there were these two beautiful young women dancing with each other in the back and singing harmonies to everything that I played. And I’d never even played in Montreal. So I got off stage and I said, “Corin, do you know these ladies?” And he said, “Yeah let me introduce you to these ladies.” And it turns out I’d heard them before in this band called Madrigaïa, which is a seven woman vocal group that sang in different languages. And now they were part of a group called Chic Gamine which is this incredible vocal group, half from Winnipeg half from Montreal. Four ladies and a drummer. Most of the music is made with their voices and the drums. Heavy soul singers. They sound like they’re from Mississippi. They don’t sound like they are from Winnipeg. You know what I mean? Really powerful, sexy and sacred at the same time. We ended up becoming really great friends right away. We were on the sidewalk passing the guitar around, singing songs. When I’m in a circle of musicians, I sort of assess what everyone’s strengths are and I try to pull out songs that’s going to bring out the best in them to create that fun vibe and community and give people things they are good at. And they just blew me away. They made me a better singer that night because it was like dancing with someone that’s a great dancer and you find out you are better than you thought you were because they lift you up somehow. About 2:00 in the morning the bartender came out and said, “Please don’t stop, but you have to come inside. [laughs] And he locked the door. About 4:00 in the morning, I realized three things. One is that had to be in Toronto that day to catch a flight to Calgary. Two, I was the only sober person there. And three, I was the only person there that had a driver’s license. So I played the grown up and I broke it up and I left. But I left that night with five songs that I’d already written that I knew I was going to have to record with these ladies. I was going to have to set up a recording session. It took two years to make the session happen. I had to go to Winnipeg in February, which is not necessarily tourist season in Manitoba. It was a great session, I could not have imagined how good the band was. Grant Siemens is the guitar player who is the guitar player for Corb Lund. Joanna Miller who plays with Mary Gauthier and Scott Nolan. Rederick (sp) Hart has this incredible band called the Windups in Winnipeg. Everybody was just perfect for the job and in two days we made one of my favorite records. I mean not even one of my favorite records of mine. I just love listening to this record. I think the music on it is really timeless.”
“Mama’s Got Wheels”
Jonathan Byrd sets up “Mama’s Got Wheels.” He says, “If you don’t like this track you’re going to hate this record. This is a song for my wife who cannot drive the speed limit.”
[Calvin plays “Mama’s Got Wheels” from You Can’t Outrun The Radio” by Jonathan Byrd.]
Calvin and Jonathan discuss how that song is a good example of “less is more.”
Inspiration to something for sale
Calvin notes how good Jonathan is at pulling people together to collaborate on an album and taking something from inspiration to something for sale and he asks Jonathan about his insights in how to make that happen. He says, “I just try to surround myself with people who are better than I am. Like these girls, I couldn’t tell them what to sing. They work together like a horn section. They have these hand signals that they give each other and they’ll change what they are doing in the middle of a song, they’ll signal each other. They move dynamically with each other. They will physically move away from the mic and then come back into the mic. It’s just amazing to watch and I can’t tell them what to do. The same goes for the bass player or the drummer. I just try to find someone who moves me and then not to tell them what to do. I try not to think to much. I never engineer my own recordings, ever. It’s a different side of my brain. If I start thinking about the record button and the computer and the microphone and all that stuff I’m not thinking about the world of the song. I’d rather just perform the song and live inside the song and not think about microphones. “
He goes on to say, “I think limitations are important too. We recorded in one room. Everything is live Everybody is bleeding into everybody’s mics The girsl are standing right in front of the drummer. Like if I turn the girls up, I’m turning the drummer up because she’s in their mics. But the thing is Joanna is a great drummer and they are great singers and so it’s going to come across, but I can’t tune anything. I can’t move a note half a second over because it will move everything. You can’t edit anything. You can sort of edit between takes. You can cut the whole track. That limitation, what it does is, in the moment, in the studio, if someone screws up. we just say OK we have to play it again. And it’s actually faster and it’s more human. It’s all those little things. A great example is Emmylou Harris sings just flat enough that it’s not wrong, but she sings flat. She sings under the notes. And that’s part of what makes her sound like she sounds. If you went in there and tuned her, it wouldn’t sound like Those things make you human, People appreciate greatness but they fall in love with you when you make a mistake. They fall in love with you when you show how human you are, especially if you are also great. If you’re really giving your all. If there’s a little bit of a flub or a squeak of the strings, just something that people know you’re actually in there doing it.
“A Big Truck Brought It”
Jonathan Byrd sets up “A Big Truck Brought It.” He says, “This is a really fun one. This is the only song on the album I did not write. It’s written by Rob Vaarmeyer and Corin Raymond… This is a completely factual song. It’s like a little piece of investigative journalism.”
[Calvin plays “A Big Truck Brought It” from You Can’t Outrun The Radio, by Jonathan Byrd.]
Jonathan talks about the time he spent living as a homeless person in uptown Charlotte as part of research he was doing for a novel he’s working on. It opened his eyes to the plight of the homeless and how they are misunderstood. He has since learned a lot about the nationwide homeless problem As a result he’s been trying to raise awareness of the problem and as he travels he issues challenges to his fans to raise money and/or food for local food banks.
“You Can’t Outrun The Radio”
Jonathan Byrd sets up “You Can’t Outrun The Radio.” He says, “This is a song about everything.”
[Calvin plays the title track from You Can’t Outrun The Radio.”
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