Blues singer and musician Jim Byrnes is headed to Nanoose Bay for a performance on Wednesday, April 4. — Courtesy Jim Byrnes

Blues man Jim Byrnes performing in Nanoose April 4

Former Island resident taking a look back with new CD

Nothing hits quite as hard as the songs that first introduced a person to the power of music.

That’s a kind of theme blues singer, songwriter and guitarist Jim Byrnes points out in his latest CD, Long Hot Summer Days, released November 2017.

The return to his musical roots is also a theme in his upcoming performance at Smoke ’N Water Restaurant in Nanoose Bay Wednesday, April 4. It’s a return to old stomping grounds, said the former Island resident, adding he hopes to catch up with plenty of old friends and fans, and make some new ones as well.

One of those old friends, Vince Ditrich of Spirit of the West fame, set up the whole thing, said Byrnes.

“When he suggested we come over and do this thing in Nanoose, I just jumped on board,” he said.

Byrnes will be performing with Simon Kendall from Doug and the Slugs on keyboard.

“We’re able to do a mix of a lot of different material,” said Byrnes. “Straight blues and a couple of country tunes, and some doo-wop. We dig deep.”

Portions of the performance will draw from the new CD, which includes a wealth of new takes on songs from Byrnes’ formative years.

“Even the title track, which I wrote, is sort of a memory piece, going back to simpler days,” Byrnes said. “There’s a number of these tunes that were songs, like when I was in high school, driving around, listening to them on the radio, or the early days in college.

Everyone has their favourite eras of music, he said. Now that the ’90s are the “distant past,” music from that time has taken on a nostalgic appeal for some.

“I think it has so much to do with what was going on when you first discovered the power of that music, when you were just getting into your early teens or something, and music really spoke to you, and evokes such memories — pleasant or unpleasant, but real memories that have stuck with you,” said Byrnes.

“I wanted to just get back to that. Get back to that feeling of the stuff that you really love, not trying to keep up with the times or any of that kind of stuff. That’s sort of where a lot of it came from,” he said of the album. “Like I say, the title track is about remembering those simpler days, when mom was hanging the clothes out on the line, you know?”

And Byrnes said he looks to let the power of the songs themselves shine through, without pushing for an over-the-top vocal performance listeners don’t need.

Byrnes said his decades in the music industry continue to give him the confidence to keep from emulating those singers that inspire him, as well as to let the song do its thing.

He compares it to singing anthems before sporting events.

“I’ve had some of the players, some NBA guys in particular, they came over to say, ‘Hey man, that was great,’ because I just sing the anthems as they’re written. I don’t put any tricks into them or anything.”

With this latest album, Byrnes has used restraint in his voice, and carefully chosen when he wants to really push his vocals.

“Sometimes it’s just best when, ‘Hey, there is a beautiful melody to this song. Sing it!’”

Byrnes performs with Simon Kendall at Smoke ’N Water Restaurant in Pacific Shores Resort (#1-1600 Stroulger Rd., Nanoose Bay) on Wednesday, April 4. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 in advance, or $35 at the door.

Tickets can be purchased at Smoke ’N Water and Cranky Dog Music in Parksville.

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