Jim Byrnes – My Walking Stick

January 01, 1970

(Black Hen Music)




The back cover of “My walking Stick” shows versatile country-blues
singer/guitarist Jim Byrnes having a leisurely cup of coffee while sitting in a
diner booth looking the very personification of the term “Old Pro”; this being
his eighth album since 1981, Byrnes can make an honest claim to the
description. Working out of Canada
for several decades, Byrnes’ work as a TV actor (“Wiseguy”) or voiceover artist
(“Highlander”) may be more familiar to some than his music; if that’s the case
it’s time to catch up.


Byrnes’ voice and soulful delivery lie somewhere between Doc
Watson and Louis Prima with a little Lord Buckley tossed in for flavor. Right
off the bat his acoustic slide work on his original, “Ol Rattler,” shows him to
be one heck of a guitar player too. So it is a bit of a mystery as to why out
of the album’s 13 cuts he only picks up his ax for that one and the title cut. But
other than the question of how a little interplay between them would sound,
there’s no mystery about why Byrnes turned to multi-instrumentalist Steve
Dawson; his work on various fretted and non-fretted instruments – including
electric slide, tricone and baritone guitars – doesn’t leave a bit of slack.
With organist Chris Gestrin and fiddler Jesse Zubot he fleshes out “Three
Shots” reworking of the “Stagger Lee” saga, provides spot on pedal steel for a
snaky take on the Conway Twitty hit “Lonely Blue Boy”; and slide for Henry
Glover’s classic “Drown In My Own Tears.”


Byrnes music draws on the sweet soul music and country blues
he absorbed during a youth spent haunting the blues and r&b clubs of his
native St. Louis, Mo.; on Walking
he puts them to optimum use.


Standout Tracks: “Ol’ Rattler”; “Lonely Blue Boy”   RICK


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