John Byrne Band mixes Irish, American folk music

MACOMB — About 30 music lovers came to the Macomb Arts Center on Thursday to listen to Celtic influenced folk music from the John Byrne Band.
John Byrne, lead singer and guitarist of the John Byrne Band, described the band's musical style as a combination of folk music from both Ireland and the United States being meshed together into one.
"There are a lot of similarities between them and sometimes when I write a song, I think about what instruments would work best in a song," Byrne said. "It kind of goes from there, but I don't worry too much what goes together until we try something and if it doesn't work. We will try something else."
Byrne said that when he believes a song should have an Irish feel to it, he will lean more on the fiddle and banjo. For songs he believes have more of an American feel to them, he will lean more towards guitars and trumpet.
"I try not to worry too much about it," Byrne said. "I kind of feel like the song should tell me how it is supposed to feel like."
During the concert, Byrne shared the stories behind several songs that had a significant meaning to him. One song, "A Special Place in Hell," told the story about Byrne's early relationship with his wife and their trip to Hell's Kitchen in New York City. Another song, "Sing On, Johnny," is about Byrne's father John and his love of singing.
The band played several songs from the upcoming album, “What If We Don't Die Young?” during the concert. One song, "Easy to Get Stuck" talks about how when someone moves to another place, they can get stuck in that area easily.
"I always feel envious of Irish people (who) when they got here, they never looked back," Byrne said. "They are exactly where they wanted to be."
Byrne is originally from Ireland. He said that Irish people who feel at home in America often go back to Ireland to visit, but do not stay. He said for some people, the move to the U.S. was supposed to be temporary, but ended up being a permanent move for those who established roots by buying a house and marrying someone from the area. Byrne said he is one of those with roots that keep him in the U.S., but he still feels drawn to his native Ireland.
"I always feel that I have that one toe that is pointing back towards Ireland," Byrne said.
The album, "What If We Don't Die Young?" will come out around the third week in October. He hopes that the album will encourage people to not have any regrets and to look forward to the future.
"It is about living, it is about pushing through dark times and thinking that if you continue to live and continue to work, time is not going to heal all of your wounds, but it can accommodate them."
The new album will be available on the band's website and on Amazon in digital, CD and vinyl formats. Fans can get a pre-sale copy of the album through Kickstarter, which will cover the mixing, mastering and manufacturing of the album. In the music world, mastering is transferring the recording into a data storage unit such as a CD or vinyl.
"A lot of people are listening to vinyl again," Byrne said. "It is always something that I wanted to do - is to put an album out on vinyl."
Byrne prefers to listen to music on vinyl, saying that it has a warmer sound to it than CD and digital recordings. He said that because vinyl has to be mastered differently, it costs more to produce a vinyl copy than a digital copy.
"If you put something out on vinyl, people are spending money to buy the vinyl and make sure that they get the sound quality that is there," he said.
Byrne was accompanied by violinist/celloist Maura Dwyer, trumpeter/banjo player Vince Tampio and guitarist Andy Keenan. Both Tampio and Keenan also sang backing vocals to several songs during the concert.

Email for comments or questions on this story