Jim Byrnes may live in Canada now and pay his bills as an actor, but his roots run deep in St. Louis, where he grew up listening to the blues musicians traveling up north along the Mississippi River. He recalls as a teenager in the 1960's crossing the river frequently into East St. Louis to hear Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Albert King and Bobby Bland. On "Everywhere West" Byrnes recalls those days, reinterpreting songs like Reed's "Take Out Some Insurance On Me" and Bland's "Yield Not to Temptation." The Mississippi Sheiks also get a nod with romping guitar-and-fiddle run through "Bootlegger's Blues." Most of the songs here are stripped to their acoustic bones, allowing Byrnes' gritty howl of a voice to do most of the talking. "Walk On" adds a pedal steel to dobro, and the traditional "He Was a Friend o Mine" unrolls as a lovely ballad, backed by the sweet vocals of Jeanne Tolmie. When things do revup, they really go to town. Cuts like "Black Nights" and the banjo driven take on Robert Johnson's "From Four Until Late" get a horn section soul dressing. Among the chestnuts are Byrnes' originals that sound plucked right out of the Mississippi mud, the autobiographical "Me and Piney Brown" and the sizzling opening track "Hot as a Pistol." "I'm just sitting here kicking ass and taking names," he growls in the opener. No kidding.