Jim Byrnes

Long a resident of Vancouver, B.C., vocalist/guitarist Jim Byrnes celebrates the music of St. Louis, his childhood home, just in time for the 250th anniversary of that city’s founding. The disc also celebrates the 100th anniversary of the W.C. Handy classic “St. Louis Blues,” which gets a boost here from the use of a brass bass—i.e., a sousaphone—which is more in keeping with the era of the song’s composition. The 65-year-old Byrnes has recorded six other albums with guitarist Steve Dawson, who produced this CD and plays slide guitar on most tracks. The songs all have a connection to the city or musicians associated with it. Thus the inclusion of intriguing versions of “I Get Evil” by Albert King and “That Will Never Do” by Little Milton. “Another Night to Cry” by Lonnie Johnson—one of the city’s most famous musicians—gets an appropriately heartfelt interpretation. Things get lively when, joined by vocalist Colleen Rennison, they rip into the Fontella Bass and Bobby McClure hit “You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone.” Kinda hard to celebrate St. Louis without digging into some Chuck Berry and on “Nadine,” one of his most delightful stories, Byrnes’ tasty vocals and Dawson’s pedal steel deliver maximum satisfaction. Mighty enjoyable goods!