The Irish Times

Mention East St Louis and thoughts turn to Steely Dan’s spritely version of Duke Ellington’s East St Louis Toodle-Oo. But for Jim Byrnes, East St Louis means Jimmy Reed and the night in 1964 he braved the small city’s dangerous reputation to see his blues hero. Fast forward to 2010 and Byrnes is trawling through his knowledge of the blues to create the same feeling he experienced in 1964. Byrnes, a sometime actor and singer now living in Vancouver, loves the hardcore Chicago-style 12-bar, such as the self-penned Hot as a Pistol, but is equally at home on the swinging slice of New Orleans in No Mail Blues – or, indeed, Reed’s delightfully artless Take Out Some Insurance on Me. There is much muscular slide guitar, flying piano fills and bustling brass, with Byrnes’s husky voice keeping it all together