The Alternate Root
Jim Byrnes has taken out his diary to give a better idea about how music, particularly the Blues, has affected, infected and taken him captive with its pull for nearly fifty years. St. Louis Times lets the songs that formed young Jim be the story of growing up in St, Louis, Missouri. St. Louis Times offers Jim’s own memories in original tracks and covers the work of local artists that were the stars of Jim’s musical upbringing. Jim croons, hollers, sings sweetly and delivers lines that bite and riffs that bleed on the album with tracks associated with Chuck Berry, Stump Johnson, Little Milton and Peetie Wheatstraw. St. Louis Times marks a few anniversaries. The album is done in collaboration with producer/guitar man Steve Dawson and marks ten years that Jim and Steve have been making music together. Additionally, St. Louis Times arrive just in time for the commemoration of 250 years since the founding of St. Louis.
“The Duck's Yas Yas Yas” slips back in time to a summer band shell as Jim Byrnes suggests you high-step down Market St. to dance a little Georgia Rub to the ragtime music playing. The tune offers a chair in the recording studio to Jim’s old buddy, John Hammond, as the two trade verses on the song. John blows mean harp on “Get Evil” and “I Believe That Was a Lie” and plays National Steel on “Cake Alley”, penned for one of St. Louis’ seedier addresses. There is salvation coming in “I Need a Change”, you can hear it in Jim’s words and feel it in the rise of the arrangement. Jim Byrnes offers his version of his birth city’s anthem and presents “St. Louis Blues”, on the eve of the song’s one hundredth anniversary. While on the bus Jim spots “Nadine” hustling down the street as he calls after the lady, ‘Nadine, honey, is that you?’ and he simmers some slow cooked blues running through the possibilities while changing the rules in “Old Dog, New Tricks”. Vancouver, Canada-based Jim Byrnes never fails to deliver quality, whether with his music or his acting career.