Jim Byrnes

Jim Byrnes

 Nashville, Tennessee, USA

The Jim Byrnes Acoustic Band comprises a powerful combination of Jim Byrnes legendary blues sensibilities with the acoustic talents of strang-masters Zubot and Dawson. Jims latest release, House of Refuge, features the Vancouver gospel trio The Sojourners, who also perform live with the band.


Jim Byrnes was born in St. Louis, MOthats blues country. He grew up on the citys north side. A neighbourhood bar had Ike and Tina Turner as the house band. As a teenager going to music clubs, he and his buddy were often the only white people in the place. We never had any problems. We were too nave, and had too much respect for the music and culturethey knew it, they could tell.

Starting piano at age five, by age thirteen, Jim was singing and playing blues guitar. His first professional gig was in the summer of 1964. Over the years, he has had the great good fortune to appear with a virtual whos who of blues history. From Furry Lewis and Henry Townsend to Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Taj Mahal, Robert Cray and so many others, Jim has been on the blues highway for 40 years.

Byrnes moved to Vancouver, BC in the mid-70s after years of drifting, working odd jobs and playing music. In 1981 he put together a band that became a staple of the local music scene. In 1986 the Jim Byrnes Band played 300 nights.

Jim Byrnes fame as an actor has grown immeasurably from his too-numerous-to-mention TV roles, with highlights including Lifeguard in the CBS series Wiseguy, worldwide success in Highlander, and his nationally broadcast variety show, The Jim Byrnes Show.

As for highlights in his musical career, Jim mentions, Sittin down in a room with Muddy Waters, just him and me, and he showed me a couple of licks on his guitar.

His greatest musical moment was the first time he saw Howlin Wolf. I was devastated. I was 17. Who could take the Rolling Stones seriously after watching Howlin Wolf down on his knees singing Little Red Rooster?

Jim has proven that a serious car accident in 1972 has done anything but hinder him. Despite two swipes with death and some pretty hard knocks, Byrnes has still managed to rack up an enviable string of credits, both on and off-screen.

Jims first love, however, is the blues. His evocative, smoky vocals are found in a truth that doesnt come overnight. During the 80s, the Jim Byrnes Band released Burning on Polydor, followed in 1987 with Ive Turned My Nights into Days and 1995s Juno-Award winning That River on Stony Plain.

February 2004 saw the release of Fresh Horses on Black Hen Music, the result of a musical meeting between Jim and Steve Dawson (of Zubot & Dawson).

On his latest release, House of Refuge (again produced by Dawson and released on Black Hen in June 2006), Jim has dug deep into the traditions that have influenced the whole of his life. He has let this life wash over him and come up with perhaps the most inspired and soulful album of his already accomplished and storied career. This second collaboration with the Zubot & Dawson band is further enhanced by the soaring vocal harmonies of the gospel trio The Sojourners, all of whom continue to help Jim bring soul, intensity and total commitment to the music he loves.

1995 Juno Award winner (Blues/Gospel Album of the YearThat River)
2004 Juno Award nominee (Blues Album of the YearFresh Horses)
1982 Juno Award nominee (Best New Artist)
1993 Leo Award winner for Highlander
2005 CBC Great Canadian Blues Award winner
2006 Canadian Folk Music Awards 2-time winner for House of Refuge (Best SingerContemporary; Producer of the Year (Steve Dawson)); 4-time nominee
2006 Maple Blues Awards 2-time winner for House of Refuge (Best Male Vocalist; Recording of the Year); 4-time nominee
2006 Leo Award nominee for music video Just a Pilgrim
2006 Champion for Kids AwardSt. Louis Variety Club
2005 Maple Blues Awards 3-time nominee for Fresh Horses
2004 Western Canadian Music Awards 2-time nominee for Fresh Horses
2003 Heart AwardVariety Club of BC
1995 induction into BC Entertainment Hall of Fame
1993 Genie Awards nominee for Harmony Cats
1989 Wiseguy nominated for 5 Emmy Awards


Of Whom Shall I Be Afraid

Written By: Byrnes/Dawson

I will go wherever you lead me
On rivers of roses or rain
I will follow the signs that you leave me
The mysteries of joy and of pain
I will search for a light in the darkness
Though I stumble through shadow and shade

Ooh if you are with me
Of whom shall I be afraid

You have picked me up when I’ve fallen
And driven ghosts from the door
You have comforted me in my sorrow
Wiped my brow when I’ve been sick and sore
You have shared in all of my triumphs
And blessed the crops we have laid

Ooh if you are with me
Of whom shall I be afraid

I have wondered at your sacrifice
As I stood at the gates of dawn
Just to love one another was your advice
That keeps me moving on

We will stand at the rock together
Hold fast and ride out the storm
We will sing in the rain and windy weather
And we will come to no harm
We will wash in the love and forgiveness
That came with the price that you paid

Ooh if you are with me
Of whom shall I be afraid.

Didn’t It Rain

Written By: Trad. Arr. By S. Dawson

Well didn’t it rain children
God’s gonna send the water from Zion
He’s gonna raise his heaven up higher
It’s gonna rain, it’s gonna rain
It’s gonna rain children
God’s gonna send the water from Zion
He’s gonna raise his heaven up higher
It’s gonna rain, it’s gonna rain, it’s gonna rain

Well my God got angry on his throne
Angels in the heaven they began to moan
Go down angels stir up the flood
Blow out the sun, change the moon into blood
Come back angels, bar the door
For I declare the time will be no more
The women and children they began to scream
Knocked on the windows, battered at the door
Crying oh brother Noah can’t you take on more
Noah said I’m sorry my friend
But God’s got the key and you can’t come in

Well Noah wasn’t worried about the children coming in
But he wanted to hear the angels moaning


Then it rained 40 days and nights without stopping
Noah was worried when the rain kept a dropping
Sent out a raven, sent out a dove
The water great God kept a coming from above
But he couldn’t find a land to rest his beak

Well Noah wasn’t worried about the raven’s beak
But he wanted to hear the angels moaning


Well the wind did blow, the ark did rock
And Noah couldn’t find no where to dock
My God spoke, and whispered low
Showed old Noah where he wanted them to go
He said look here Noah, the rain’s gonna stop
I want you to land on the mountain top
Showed old Noah a rainbow sign
And said it won’t be rain but fire next time

Well Noah wasn’t worried about the fire next time
But he wanted to hear the angels moaning



2006 House of Refuge (Black Hen Music)
2004 Fresh Horses (Black Hen Music)
1995 That River (Stony Plain Records)
1987 I Turned My Nights Into Days (Stony Plain Records)
1981 Burning (Polydor; re-released on Stony Plain 1998)

Set List

Sample Set List

Didn't It Rain (Trad)
Of Whom Shall I Be Afraid (Byrnes/Dawson)
Running Out of Time (Byrnes)
Big Bill's Blues (Broonzy)
Lay Me Down Sweet Jesus (Rutledge)
Today (Dorsey)
Stardust (Carmichael)
Be Ready When He Comes (James)
The Death of Ernesto Guevara (Byrnes/Dawson)
Last Fair Deal Gone Down (Johnson)
Fortify Me (Wall)
The Beast in Me (Lowe)
B's Blues (Byrnes)
Fresh Horses (Dawson)
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues (Dylan)
For the Turnstiles (Young)
I Can't Be Satisfied (Morganfield)
The Embers (Cowsill/Hatcher)
12 Questions (Byrnes/Keenlyside)
Just a Pilgrim (Byrnes/Hatcher)
I've Got Blood in My Eyes for You (Vinson)
Postcard from Mexico (Byrnes/Hearsey)
Love is Just a Gamble (Byrnes)
East Virginia (Trad)

Sets may range from 30 - 75 minutes

Shows may be duo, trio, 5-, 6-, or 8-piece and may comprise acoustic blues/roots, R&B, and/or gospel.