Hand injuries, blues stomping and in awe of Kris Drever

Added on Saturday 17 Jan 2009

What have I been up to since my last update? Well in terms of playing I've been taking a rest as I seemed to have overdone the guitar picking lately; resulting in a very painful and stiff couple of finger on my left hand.

I had been planning to practice a couple of new songs this week - for the gig tonight at the Woodend Bowling Club (with Scott MacDonald and Jay Brown). I'm looking forward to the gig - but I don't think I'll be playing anything new - unless I have late burst of practice today. However, I'm expecting it will be a good gig - as both Scott and Jay are experienced performers and songwriters.

Talking of songwriting - I'd been writing a stompy kind of blues song recently - which when I've practiced it for 3 months solid will include percussion; played with my legs - one with an egg shaker down my sock (taking the job of a snare) and the other making use of the foot stomper type noisy thing that Seasick Steve uses (i.e. to simulate a bass drum). That's the idea - if it ever happens it will be a miracle.

Apart from injuries - there have been a few other interesting things going on. On Sunday evening Pat was the guest of Ciaran Dorris on his Celtic Music Radio Show - the show is based around the 'Desert Island Disk' idea - but called, 'The Dorris Island Experience'.

Luckily for me Pat choose a couple of tracks from my CD to take with her - which meant both 'The Holiday Song' and 'The handle's broken on my cup' got played on the radio (cunning eh!). I was in good company as the other tracks she chose where one by Kris Drever who is a current favourite of ours and a track by the Buena Vista Social Club. The books Pat mentioned she would take with her to the island included, 'Along the Great Western Road' by Gordon R. Urquhart and a book by Denise Mina (I didn't catch the title of the book). Denise Mina is one of Pat's favourite writers. The choice of the book by Gordon Urquhart is related to the fact that Pat runs the Glasgow West End community website - so it was an appropriate choice.

After the radio show, Pat, with all the Celtic Radio presenters in tow, turned up to see me at the Butterfly and Pig gig later that evening. It was a busy - and noisy gig. The noise didn't bother me too much (anyway, I was having my own internal battles playing through the pain in my hand) - but Mary Kathleen Burke who was also playing that evening - found it quite difficult to concentrate on her singing with such a racket going on.

Other things of note included being the guest blogger on the Spiral Earth website (Thanks to David Kushar http://spiralearth.co.uk/) and having my CD reviewed by the singer and songwriter Helen McCookerybook:

"I have been listening to Jim Byrne's CD, On These Dark Nights and have been enjoying his guitar pickin', especially on the track Weather Girl, which has a sparkly old-timey feel. I also particularly like the countryish Tenderness, but the best track (I'm a sucker for the catchy ones) is Sunday Morning, which has a strong riff and a sing-along chorus, and a dark little twist to the lyrics. "

Thanks Helen, very generous and nice of you to say.

Last night we went along to see 'Drever McCusker and Woomble', i.e. Kris Dever, John McCusker and Roddy Woomble, at the ABC as part of the Celtic Connections programme. As I mentioned I'm a real fan of Kris Drever - he's just seems to be a natural music maker and communicator when he sings. I can't put it into words what it is that makes him so good (arpart from the amazing voice, great songs and fantastic guitar playing) - he's just got it - whatever 'it' is. I'm also a fan of McCusker's fiddle playing - and his general musical genius like behaviour.

Any I'd better stop there and get some practice in for tonights gig, without overdoing it and exacerbating my current injuries.

All the best, Jim

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What the critics said about 'Every day is sunshine' by Jim Byrne.

  • "a heady and exotic mix. " Q Magazine.
  • "..full of cinematic turns of phrase, dressed up in alluring melodies delivered by some of the most respected players on the modern-day Celtic Folk scene." UNCUT
  • Album of the week on Celtic Music Radio
  • Added to 'God's Jukebox' on Radio Two Mark Lamarr show
  • "A beautifully produced collection of Americana" The Daily Record. Four Stars
  • "Great record... a complete, compelling listen. ", Adam Levy (Songwriter/artist, guitarist with Nora Jones)
  • "ten beautiful, atmospheric songs..", Folk, Blues and beyond
  • "a fresh, original album", Eilidh Patterson (singer songwriter, vocalist with Beth Nielsen Chapman)
  • Sounding like Johnny Cash never left Folsom prison...meditations on life that'll soon sound like old friends. Spiral Earth

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