The John Byrne Band
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The John Byrne Band

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Americana Celtic




"John Byrne Band in the Press"

What the Critics are Saying…..
“Up and coming Trad star hits the sweet spot… beautifully played… its Byrne’s natural vocal delivery that makes the album stand out from the crowd” Hot Press

"John Byrne's After The Wake is the sort of album that an artist spends their entire career trying to create. Every once in a while someone actually manages to do it; mix splendid story-telling skills, top-notch musicianship, and a grand creative sense with just the right mix of songs. After The Wake is nothing short of a brilliant collection" - Wildy's World

“One of the few musical artists today who truly manage to be traditional and modern at the same time.” Philadelphia Inquirer

“He’s good, period, with material that’s edgy yet accessible in a Luka Bloom meets Bob Dylan kind of way.” Philadelphia Daily News

“After the Wake is the perfect combination of Celtic and American folk music.”
Record-Journal Newspaper

“Amazing tales of life and semi-autobiographical tunes… You’ll want to listen over and over again.”
Reviewer Magazine“

Byrne’s songs are rich with the sounds and themes of Irish tradition, one that survives in a modern world… full of “raw strength”… an impressive work throughout… puts me in mind of an Irish Alejandro Escavedo” Sing Out Magazine

For “fans of Celtic music, Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams and other such lyrically expansive folks.” Sun Herald

“Vocals delivered with the utmost sincerity and music that follows suit” - Catherine L. Tully - Celtic MP3s Music Magazine

“Folk music, all the way through, and at its very best……traditional sounding original songs, each one as amazing as the one before. I tell you frankly that I wept salty tears, brought on by both the subject matter of the lyrics and the intensity of the delivery.” Album Review – -

"Review - After the Wake" - Celtic MP3 Magazine

"Review in Sing Out!"

Byrne’s songs are rich with the sounds and themes of Irish tradition, one that survives in a modern world… full of “raw strength”… an impressive work throughout… puts me in mind of an Irish Alejandro Escavedo” Sing Out Magazine - Sing Out Magazine

"Patrick's Head in the Press"

Patrick's Head in the Press...

“A solid, well-written, honest album.” “... this disc oozes Bob Dylan, ‘70s war anthems and unsung working class hero dirges.” “Everything about the album is simple, mellow and lulled into somber perfection.”
...Origivation Magazine

"Throughout the record, the band's lyrics are deeply personal with a sort of urban realism that's rare to find."…"The songs resonate because the characters relate to us."… "College radio and NPR stations should do themselves a favor and start adding several of these tracks to their play lists."

"One of the hottest up-and-coming bands in Philadelphia" ... "The sound of Patrick's Head is an inevitably unique style which stems from the dissimilar mixture of the band member's personalities."…"Their songs make you want to jump in your car and find a lost love." "...there is no band like Patrick's Head."
...Star Newspapers "Coming Alive"

"The songs on A Mild Case of Something Weird are songs of the real world, of real men and women."…"A Mild Case... is a fine album of strong songwriting and story telling."
"If you ever have a chance to see these guys live anywhere around the city, it would be in your best interest to do so." … "Support this great, original band and make a point to check out "A Mild Case of Something Weird".
...The Tower
- Various

"CD of the Week"

With a title like Patrick's Head, I assumed it was a Celtic rock band, but it's not. Yes, the singers vocals remind me of Shane MacGowan, but they're cleaner, more user friendly, easier to understand. The music is straight up contemporary Celtic folk. Very lyrical, great song selection, and well done. "Raglan Road" belongs in any Irish movie. All in all, a fantastic CD, and I highly recommend it! - Marc Gunn

"CD Review"

Irishman John Byrne has brought over with him some amazing tales of life and semi-autobiographical tunes. After the Wake is the name of his debut CD and it’s a good listen
What is helpful about the sheet that’s included in the CD sleeve is that each song is written about, reading, in a paragraph or two, whatever was the impetus for writing the song, like for instance, about “Boys Forget the Whale (or John Byrne’s 115th Dream about Bob Dylan)”, which is a very good song and, in fact, is basically a cover of “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream” from Bringing it All Back Home, line by line he rewrote it to, I suppose, be original and to change things around a bit to change the perspective of things, going from Bob’s POV to seeing things through Byrne’s eyes. From the liner notes on a sheet inside the CD sleeve there is written, about this song, among other things, that although it is still a “story”, a lot of it rings painfully true to Byrne. I mean Byrne really can keep up the pace that Dylan laid down on the original, although Byrne’s version has different lyrics. The song is based on the legendary meeting between Bob Dylan & Woody Guthrie, when the former met the latter in the hospital, it is written there that it’s based on a “story, just a story…”, autobiographical, Byrne himself, I guess, had sought out Dylan to play a song or two of his own and see what kind of feedback he’d get – maybe Bob spurned him or something, one can only speculate about the “painfully true…” remark in the aforementioned liner notes.
Dylan’s always been known to have been a strange cat, so, hey, don’t take it personally.
After the Wake is a CD that is filled with a variety of tunes, folkish in some way, a couple that have a distinct Irish flavor to them as well as just plain, well, tunes.
The first cut is a pretty good way to start off the disc. “In Your Savior’s Place” is purported to have been based on a romantic story the songwriter had worked on once in the past. Also worth mentioning is “It’s a Gas That Makes You Laugh Before it Kills You”, a very catchy tune that you’ll want to listen to over and over again – listen for it to pop up on KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” show (or request that they play it!), or on one of the many great college-based radio stations that are always “left of the dial” (in the 88.’s).
The songs range from the folkish to a more traditional Irish sound to some funky white boy blues, giving the disc a well-rounded sound -KM. - Reviewer Magazine

"Up and Coming Trad Star Hits the Sweet Spot"

Having made his name on the folk scene with Patrick's Head, Dubliner John Byrne's first solo record is a lilting, satisfying traditional take on the genre that's sure to please even the most fickle fan. While the guitars, banjos and accordions are beautifully played on the likes of "A Song With No Words,": it's Byrne's natural vocal delivery that makes the album stand out from the crowd.

Edwin McFee
Key Track: Various Verses - Hot Press Magazine

"Music Critic's Pic"

If there's a Guiness Book of Records entry celebrating "hardest working" Celtic musician, the honor might go to John Byrne and his band. The Dublin-born, long Philadelphia-based musician is logging 20 local gigs in 20 days this month, many at establishments that celebrate St. Patrick's Day early and often. Formerly the front man of Patrick's Head, Byrne isn't just good type casting, he's good period, with original material(heard on his new "After the Wake" album) that's edgy yet accessible, clever and fun in a Luka Bloom meets Bob Dylan kind of way. And his band applies the old-sod touches in a beautiful, subtle, non cliched way.

(gigs are listed below this) - Philadelphia Daily News

"20 Gigs in 20 Days"

Talk about your smilin' eyes.

Celtic singer-songwriter John Byrne has plenty to be smiling about these days.

Rising from the ashes of Patrick's Head, what was for a long time Philly's most popular original Irish band, Byrne is once again the frontman, lending his own name to a band that is planning the greenest of months.

Bryne is a Native Dubliner who's been living here 15 years, since his late teens and comes from a family of Irish balladeers.

A recent CD release party for "After the Wake" -- the first gig for the John Byrne Band -- sold out World Cafe Live in Philadelphia. And he couldn't be busier in a run-up to St. Patrick's Day.

The John Byrne Band will be doing 20 local gigs in 20 days, including Saturday when they will play an eight-hour gig in Center City, followed by a four-hour gig in South Jersey:

Mondays, 8-11 p.m. and March 20, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., Slainte, 3000 Market St., Philadelphia. (215) 222-7400 or

Thursdays, 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. and this Saturday, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., O'Donnell's 1923 Restaurant, 401 N. Broadway, Gloucester City. (856) 278-9655

Tonight, 4-8 p.m.; tomorrow, noon to 8 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 to 7 p.m.; 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesday; noon to 3 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday; Fado, 500 Locust St., Philadelphia. (215) 893-9700 or

March 19, 9 p.m. General Lafayette Inn, 646 Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill, Pa. (610) 941-0600 or

March 26, Cape May Singer-Songwriter Festival, The Pilot House, 142 Decatur St. (Washington St. Mall), Cape May. (609) 884-3449 or or

For more on the new album, "After the Wake," visit - Courier Times

"Irresistable Celtic/Folk Hybrid from veteran Dublin-born bandleader’s solo debut “After the Wake”: Meet the JOHN BYRNE BAND"

PHILADELPHIA — Equal parts Celtic and folk, Dublin-born singer/songwriter/guitarist John Byrne is one of the few musical artists today who manage to be traditional and modern at the same time. That’s clearly in evidence through AFTER THE WAKE , the first-ever album credited to the JOHN BYRNE BAND after eight years as a co-founding member of Patrick’s Head.

The John Byrne Band picks up where its leader had hoped Patrick’s Head would go after building a large and loyal regional following from New York to Delaware and throughout the Northeast, with critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. Not bad for a gentleman who until the mid ‘90s, called Dublin, Ireland his home.

There’s a clear reason why After the Wake comes closest to Byrne’s musical vision – it explores the best of the two genres with which Byrne is often associated.

“American folk has always been my biggest influence, probably,” says Byrne, who settled in the U.S. as a teenager. “In Ireland growing up, I became a Dylan fan very young. When I came to America, I really began exploring Dylan’s influences, so I became a big fan of Woody Guthrie and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. Irish music, definitely — I dug deeper into Irish music more than I had before, after moving here. There’s an Irish band, called Planxty, and they were a huge influence in the recording of the album, because they would record songs without anybody using chords — it would all be intertwining melodies.”

And since the John Byrne Band is “a band” after all, several other musicians – including the rhythm section of Amos Lee’s band (bassist Jaron Olevsky and drummer Freddie Berman), as well as fiddle player Sara Milonovich (Pete Seeger), and even the album’s producer, Andrew Keenan (guitar and banjo), loaned a hand. As proven by such standouts as “In Your Savior’s Place” and “It’s A Gas That Makes You Laugh Before It Kills You,” the line-up instantly paid off for Byrne. But it took one special song to truly convince the band leader that the album was going to be something special.

“‘See You Then’ was an important song,” explains Byrne. “I had written a number of good songs, but when I wrote that one, I felt like I had an album. But I’m really in love with all of the tracks — the process was so long that I think each one of them became my favorite for at least a couple of weeks.”

Byrne’s desire to mix the traditional sounds of the U.S. and Ireland harkens back to the acoustic roots of his previous band, before it switched to the more commercially viable country pop sound that ultimately led to its breakup over disagreements on musical direction. Along the way, Patrick’s Head had lots of success touring as headliners and opening for the likes of Hothouse Flowers, the Young Dubliners, Gaelic Storm and Ceili Rain.

Once Patrick’s Head ended in summer of 2008, Byrne wasted little time getting on with the next musical chapter of his career. By September, he had most of the new material for After the Wake written and demoed, and he and Keenan began recording at Christmas time.

Already selling out shows in the Philadelphia area, including the prestigious World Café Live, the John Byrne Band (which recently welcomed in new member Chris Buchanan – guitar and banjo) is aiming to spread the word further, gigging steadily in support of After the Wake with marathon shows whenever possible. He’s also one of the hardest working original Celtic artists around, logging 78 hours of paid gigging time in March alone!

“You can expect to see almost my head explode on stage!,” says Byrne. “I like playing long shows. I think I take a lot of pride in how a show is organized, and I like to make sure it’s an experience. We’ll play for as long as they’ll allow us to play. We’ll pretty much give you everything we have. My first love is playing live. I get filled with nervous energy before each time we play live, but once I get out there, I couldn’t be happier. We always try and give a really good show.”

The future looks bright for the John Byrne Band, and the newly configured line-up is committed to playing as much as it can while expanding its touring base across the country.

“I just really want to push this album as far as it will go,” says Byrne, “and make sure the next one is another step forward.”

As heard throughout After the Wake, Byrne and his friends are off to a terrific start. - MV Remix Rock

"New CD, New Band, New Bride: John Byrne's on a Brand New Road"

There’s a lot about John Byrne’s latest CD that’s autobiographical, but the line “I was a mediocre singer with a mediocre song” from his paean to Dylan isn’t. Not by a long shot. In fact, it’s hard to understand why Bryne, who grew up in a family of ballad singers in Dublin, didn’t come to music until he was in late teens.

“When I was a teenager, my obsession was playing football, which kind of gave me an out,” he says, explaining why he had no party piece when his parents and grandparents were warbling theirs in the parlor. “They just said, ‘He’s a footballer, that’s what he does.” He laughs.

Byrne has immortalized those evenings at his grandparents’ house in the track, in “Various Verses,” on “After the Wake,” his first CD effort since splitting from longtime partner (and brother-in-law) Patrick Mansfield with whom he was “Patrick’s Head,” a Philadelphia-based group that played to sold-out crowds in some of the city’s jewel-like acoustic venues like World Café Live and The Tin Angel.

From the opening chords, you know the song is going to grab your heart. In his handwritten liner notes on the song, Byrne admits, “the thing I miss most about being home are the nights when the whole family would gather and sing songs. There’d be parents, grandparents, brothers, aunts, uncles, and friends all singing their own versions of the songs they loved, the songs that spoke for them and through them. These songs and singers will always be my greatest inspiration.”

Those same inspirations appear again in other tracks, like Old Man’s Disguise, in which Byrne muses on how much like his father he’s become. “Like any teenage boy I butted heads with my dad,” he says. “But as you get older you get wiser and begin to see things from their perspective. You look in mirror and see you’re getting more and more like them physically. I have the same mop of curly hair as my dad. This song is about understanding what your folks are as people. You don’t often see them as people like you, but as you come to understand your own flaws, you come to understand theirs too. “

“Midnight in Dublin,” a song about wanting to call home but having to be mindful of the time difference, reinforced the idea that John Byrne gets occasionally homesick. “The homesickness is always there,” he admits. But he’s clearly put down roots in Philadelphia. Last year, he married Dorothy Mansfield and it’s his new bride—dressed in red—he’s dancing with in the Italian Market that serves as the cover photo of “After the Wake.”

“We took dance lessons for our wedding and it was amazing how much I reall enjoyed it,” he says, still sounding a little surprised. “It really fit the morning after feeling we were going for—‘after the wake,’ celebrating the life of somebody and hopefully moving on.”

Byrne first came to the Philadelphia area as a teenager. “I went where every Irish person went in the ‘90s—Wildwood,” he laughs. “The first stage I ever played on was in a bar at the shore.”

He didn’t arrive as a performer. His first job was running the go-kart rides on the boardwalk “14 hours a day, seven days a week, for minimum wage. And I thought it was a great job. You could go to the bar afterwards and the all-you-could-eat breakfast place after that.”

One of his songs, Already Gone, is set in Wildwood in the winter. It’s a “break-up” song with the memorable line, “I used to wallow here, with the men I followed here.” Anyone who’s ever gone to the Jersey Shore off season will pick up the mood immediately. “After I moved here and went to visit the shore towns in the winter, I felt that tremendous sense of melancholy and hibernation of the locals that exists for the months the tourists aren’t there. They’re sitting in the bar just getting through the winter, keeping tabs on Memorial Day,” says Byrne.

He caught the American folk music bug while he was here—he’s Dylanophile and one of his songs, Boys, Forget the Whale, is a tribute to his hero. After leaving college in Ireland (where he studied electrical engineering), Byrne returned to the US to try his hand at performing. But he didn’t want to be just another Irish act.

In fact, in the beginning, he tried to avoid Irish music altogether until bandmate Patrick Mansfield talked him into adding a few songs to their playlist. “Even now I’m very selective about the Irish songs I will and will not do,” Byrne says. “I won’t play ‘Oh, row, the rattlin’ bog’ for example.” He laughs. “At some gigs I was asked to play pro-IRA songs and I didn’t want to go down that road either. One of the ones that got me the most was ‘The Unicorn Song’ [by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem]. I don’t know how a unicorn song got all mixed up with Irish music. I’d never heard it. I’d say, ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about. Are you sure you don’t mean ‘The Leprechaun song.’ Then I heard a tape of it. I was horrified.”

When he heard he was going to share a stage with Tommy Makem at the Long Island Irish Festival, he says he was ready. “I was going to say, ‘So, The Unicorn Song, lads. I have to ask and I hope you’re going to tell me this was your manager’s idea.” Unfortunately, we’ll never know: the festival was cancelled.

That’s not to say Byrne had rejected the Irish sound altogether. The most autobiographical songs on his CD have a Celtic lilt and one, The Ballad of Martin Doyle, is a trad song in the making. Traditional songs were all new once, after all.

“That song came from my uncle, David O’Brien, who works with a nonprofit organization in Northern Ireland that is trying to bring communities together,” he explains. “He tells this story when he’s trying to show people from different communities that they have more in common than they have differences.”

It’s the true story of an Irishman named Martin Doyle who joined the British Army to fight in World War I, lured by the promise the British made to the Irish that if they did the patriotic thing, the British would consider home rule. After his service, for which he was highly decorated, Doyle returned to Ireland—a post-Easter Uprising Ireland, where those who were martyrs to the free Irish cause made anything British very unpopular. He and the other World War I veterans from Ireland came home to less than a hero’s welcome.

Though Doyle joined the Irish Republican Army and again fought bravely—this time against the British--at his death he chose to be buried in his British World War I uniform. “When David was telling me this story, he asked me, ‘What do you think?’ What I think is that Doyle was trying to honor the Irishmen who fought in World War I and were betrayed by both the British and their own people,” says Byrne. He chose his British uniform, as Byrne writes, because it was “the uniform of another war that treated us like men.”

His uncle encouraged him to write a song about Doyle. “Usually, I can’t just write about something, but this one just came,” he says.

He’ll be playing it—and other songs from “After the Wake”—at his World Café Live CD party on February 20 (better get tickets now—it’s almost sold out). Joining him on stage will be recent transplant, singer-songwriter Enda Keegan, and Byrne’s brother, Damian, also a musician.

“After my grandfather passed on, those music nights at the house got less and less frequent, but Damian really took up the mantle and started them again,” says Byrne. “He and his group of friends get together at somebody’s house and do mostly ballad singing, like we did when we were younger. I’m really looking forward to performing with him onstage.”

You can also catch John Byrne and The John Byrne Band at O’Donnell’s at 139 North Broadway, Gloucester City, NJ, (just over the bridge from Philly) on Friday, February 12, and February 19, or at Slainte, at 30th and Market in Philadelphia, on February 15 and 25. - Irish Philadelphia

"Folkie Debut of John Byrne Band"

CD Review: Folkie Debut Of The John Byrne Band
After 8 years as a cofounder of the band Patrick's Head, Dublin-born John Byrne is finally getting his music out in the form of The John Byrne Band. His debut release entitled "After The Wake" is the perfect combination of his Celtic background and his passion for American folk music.

The new album has an Americana feel brought out by the album's lead-off track "In Your Savior's Place." The song carries a feel similar to Bob Dylan's son, Jakob Dylan's latest release. His lyrics are tremendously interesting and The John Byrne Band gives life to his playful lyrics. The country-folk sound of "It's a Gas That Makes You Laugh Before It Kills You" is just one of the many songs that show his influences of Bob Dylan. In fact, the album's highlight is a song called "Boys Forget the Whale (or John Byrne's 115th Dream about Bob Dylan)." The song is an 8-minute opus to the way Dylan's words flowed together without making or needing to make sense. The lyrics of songs like "A Song With No Words" and "The Ballad of Martin Doyle" keep you focused on Byrne's song writing, wanting to hear more of his stories. John Byrne tries to bring the listener back to his homeland of Ireland with the gentle ballad "Midnight in Dublin."

The John Byrne Band is performing all over Pennsylvania in June and July, but look for him to visit Connecticut on July 25 at Christy's on Orange in New Haven. Check out John Byrne's website ( for music samples, shows and album information. - Record-Journal newspaper

"CD Review"

The John Byrne Band - After The Wake
2010, ri-ra Records

Dublin-born singer/songwriter John Byrne came to the US as a teenager. As a 1960's folk fan in his native Ireland, Byrne explored both the music of Bob Dylan and his influences, as well as delving deeper into the Celtic musical traditions of his upbringing. Dylan, Woody Guthrie and Ramblin' Jack Elliot all had major effects on Byrne as a music fan and burgeoning songwriter, as did the poly-melodic stylings of the band Planxty. Byrne is a co-founder of Celtic band Patrick's Head, a fan-favorite for their eight year run in the Northeast US. In February of 2010, John Byrne stepped out in another direction, combining his love of American folk and Celtic roots music with his new band. The John Byrne band's debut album, After The Wake shows off the distinctive voice and songwriting of Byrne as well as the supple and talented musicians he's surrounded himself with: Bassist Jaron Olevsky (Amos Lee); drummer Freddie Berman (Amos Lee); fiddler Sara Milonovich (Pete Seeger, The McKrells) and on guitar, banjo and production board Andrew Keenan among others.

After The Wake opens with "In Your Savior's Place", a musical dichotomy that's interesting for the conflict between what it sounds like and what it actually is. "In Your Savior's Place" is delivered in a pretty Americana arrangement full of strong vocal harmonies and top-notch instrumental work. In spite of the uplifting sounding chorus, it's a dark and angry song rife with jealousy. Byrne is gritty in the verses, fueling the impression of darker thoughts delivered in rosy terms. "It's A Gas That Makes You Laugh" continues the trend of upbeat, gritty tunes. The arrangement here is just outstanding; highly danceable in spite of the dark subject matter. It's a brilliant tune about suffocating (figuratively) in a place you never wanted to be but can't seem to leave. Byrne ruminates on life's status as a patchwork built from our history in "Various Verses", casting music and life as reflections of one another in metaphorical terms. This is offered in a gentle Celtic arrangement with a mournful feel; a great listen.

"A Song With No Words" is a subtle love song with a mournful feel. Flute serves as a haunting garnish, while Milonovich delivers the stark counter melody to Byrne's competent vocal. Byrne shows a story-teller's flair on "See You Then", detailing the loss of a friendship and offering advice about moving on. This is great songwriting, delivered with the aplomb of a master carver of tales. Byrne pays tribute to Bob Dylan on "Boys Forget The Whale", a delicious blues-flavored folk/rock romp that will be on repeat no matter what form your music player takes. At eight minutes the rapid fire prose of this song takes some listening stamina, but the song is brilliantly delivered and will keep listeners engaged from start to finish.

For all the quality that's come before, "Old Man's Disguise" may be the best pure songwriting on the album. It's not flashy or garish, but a quietly forceful musical recollection full of stirring imagery and palpable emotion. "The Ballad Of Martin Doyle" is a mournful ode to an Irish hero of World War I for the British Army who later served in the Irish Republican Army in its fight for independence. The song laments the loss of a homeland, and seems to regret the conflict of serving a country that has taken away his home. After The Wake closes with "Already Gone", a gorgeous and sad tune that's loaded with a pragmatic sense of destiny and many layers of meaning ("What's one more drink when you're already gone.") It's a brilliant closer, though provoking and full of heart while remaining ultimately tuneful.

John Byrne's After The Wake is the sort of album that an artist spends their entire career trying to create. Every once in a while someone actually manages to do it; mix splendid story-telling skills, top-notch musicianship, and a grand creative sense with just the right mix of songs. After The Wake is nothing short of a brilliant collection; either an album that is the benchmark for the rest of Byrne's creative life or the magical apex that he'll approach the rest of his life but never quite achieve again. If you only buy one new album this year, make sure that John Byrne's After The Wake is one of your considerations. After The Wake is a Wildy's World Certified Desert Island Disc.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5) - Wildy's World

"Byrne Blazes (Review of After the Wake)" of Celtic Music, Bob Dylan, Steve Earl, Lucinda Williams and other such lyrically expansive folk will love this one.. - Sun Herald of Biloxi

"John Byrne Band - A Shiver in the Sky"

Dublin-raised, Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter John Byrne blurs the line between Irish folk songs and East Coast rock ‘n’ roll while offering peace in the eye of life’s storms on the John Byrne Band’s new album A Shiver in the Sky.

Despite the monotony of hometown life described in “Time Ain’t Changed a Thing in This Town,” Byrne always considers the silver lining, as exemplified by “All in All.” Just like the characters in “Hard Livin’ Lovers,” we can all come out on the other end of life’s inconveniences and injustices as stronger people.

Other standout rock and folk concoctions include “Hold That Against Me,” which is basically a horn rock throwback with a fiddle solo, and the upbeat, indie rock-inspired “Special Place in Hell.” Both shatter any notion that only Irish folk listeners can pick out the subtle differences between Byrne’s songs.

While the songs crossing rock grit with Irish folk tradition best capture Byrne’s imagination and the album’s overall message, the handful of musical outliers deserve equal playlist consideration. For example, “Just Like You” sounds like rockabilly meets Dixieland, yet it still fits the album’s sonic and thematic feel.

Byrne ends the album with two no-frills Irish folk songs. The first of these, “Easy to Get Stuck Here,” allows the whole “life’s lousy sometimes, but don’t give up” theme to breathe a little as Byrne’s vocals and lyrics take center-stage. A collection of songs tied to place and considerate of circumstances ends with “As The Crow Flies,” a more mysterious folk parable set to music.

In all, Byrne and his supporting cast imaginatively spruce up what’d already been lyrically strong work from a skilled stylist with a clear message of hope. - Bobby Moore

"A Shiver in the Sky Review - John Byrne Band"

At the core of the John Byrne Band’s fourth LP, A Shiver In The Sky is a mix of traditional and modern folk. But it’s what Byrne and his band manage to build onto that base that makes this offering so compelling. An Irish transplant now living in Philly, like on his earlier efforts, there are hints of Byrne’s native Irish roots that are layered throughout, thanks to the liberal use of strings and banjo. But he and his band also bring in New Orleans-style horns on songs like “Just Like You,” and “Time Ain’t Changed A Thing In This Town” and powerful guitars and drums throughout.

Elsewhere, thanks to his still-ever present brogue and the lyrics that call back the Emerald Isle and England, songs like “Easy To Get Stuck Here” sound like traditional Irish folk songs. The same can be said about the album closer, “As The Crow Flies,” a melancholy track that is a bit of an anomaly for the album that tends to hue closer to more upbeat rhythms.

The last two songs aside, the bulk of the record is a surprisingly optimistic collection of songs considering the theme of trauma and getting past it. “A Specials Place In Hell,” title aside, is a convincing ode to love, as is “All in All,” with the darkly romantic line “we share a match and then one day we share a casket.” It’s lyrics like that that make Byrne stand above most of the other modern folkies putting out music today. His voice is solid, the music is adventurous, but above all else, it’s Byrnes knack for writing succinctly sharp and relatable lyrics that make A Shiver In The Sky such a triumph. - John B.Moore - Blurt/New Noise Magazine/InSite Atlanta/NeuFutur Magazine


After the Wake (2011)
Celtic Folk (2013)
The Immigrant and the Orphan (2015)
Songs for Christmas EP (2015)
John J.Byrne and the Twangmen (2017)
A Shiver in the Sky (2019)



native and Philadelphia resident, John Byrne leads his eponymously-named band.
Their new record 
Shiver in the Sky
recorded at Spice House Sound in Philadelphia and produced by long-time
collaborator Andy Keenan, shows his band of multi-instrumentalists vibrantly
executing ten new originals. Strings, horns and guitars escort Byrne’s vocals
through a set of songs about living and pushing forward through negative times. The album reached number one on the Roots Radio Report Alternative Folk Charts in January 2020. 


the Wake (2011), Celtic Folk (2013) 
and The
Immigrant and the Orphan(2015), A Shiver in the Sky 
focuses on triumph over trauma. Of
this set of songs Byrne says, “
Things will
happen to you, and they can be immensely painful, but they will pass. And if
you don’t let them break you there will be a new version of yourself that
emerges and has learned the skills to live with this pain. There are cautionary
tales, songs about dealing with addiction, about immigration, about
relationships of all kinds, about facing prejudice, about leaving things behind.
They all ultimately carry a similar message, that living carries with it the
possibility of balancing out regret or mistakes that you’ve made with a future
that contains something brighter. The Shiver in the Sky is the
past, it’s the remnants of trauma, it never fully leaves us, but it fades with


influences ranging from Tom Waits to Planxty, John’s songwriting honors and
expands upon the musical and lyrical traditions of his native and adopted
homes. Critics have called his writing “powerful, deeply moving work that will
stay with you long after you have heard it”
(Michael Tearson-Sing Out); Both as a solo/acoustic act,
and a full 6-piece band, John logs in over 150 shows per year, building a loyal
and devoted following. John spent 2017/18 recording and releasing an album of
folk songs with his father John Sr. Released under the name
John J.Byrne and the
album has been included in the National Folk Music Archives in Ireland.



songs are rich with the sounds and themes of Irish tradition, one that survives
in a modern world… full of raw strength… puts me in mind of an Irish Alejandro

Vibe of it
 is, at once, as rough as rock and as elegant as a calm
ocean..each song on this album carries an honesty, integrity and quiet passion
that will draw you into its world for years to come” 

No Depression

of the few musical artists today who truly manage to be traditional and modern
at the same time.” 
Philadelphia Inquirer

good, period, with material that’s edgy yet accessible in a Luka Bloom meets
Bob Dylan kind of way.” 
Philadelphia Daily News 

For up to date info and dates, go to

Band Members