Jonathan Byrd – vocals, acoustic guitar
“Well traveled rugged rail rider of the south land”- Matty McKechnie from Ears To The Ground
“One of the top 50 songwriters of the last 50 years,” says Rich Warren of WFMT in the Chicago Tribune.
Scott Alarik of the Boston Globe says, “This rootsy North Carolinian may be the most buzzed-about new songwriter in folkdom. He displays John Prine’s gift for stark little songs that tell big, complex stories, Guy Clark’s lean melodicism, Lyle Lovett’s wry mischief, and Bill Morrissey’s knack for the revealing image.” Byrd grew up singing in the Southern Baptist church, where his father preached and his mother played piano. After four years in the Navy, he returned to home to play in rock bands. It was at an old-time fiddle festival in the mountains of southwest Virginia where his writing began to change. Assimilating the sounds of southern traditional music, Byrd wrote new songs in an ancient style. After 10 years as a full-time touring songwriter and 7 acclaimed albums, it seems this native of Cackalacky is getting the attention he deserves.
Johnny Waken – electric guitar, mandolin, saw, harmonica, washboard, banjo, harmony vocals
“He’s got more rock ‘n’ roll in his mustache than most major cities. He’s made out of wood shavings, bear grease, and Russian vacuum tubes.” -J.Byrd.
Johnny Waken aka ‘Showtime’ hails from the rolling hills of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After years of playing blues guitar in the clubs along the east coast, he engineered and co-produced Norman Nardini’s original blues-rock record “This Old Train” in 1991. This led to a tour in Austria, Germany and Switzerland opening for the Blues Brothers in 3,000-seat halls with the likes of Steve Cropper, “Duck” Dunn, Matt “Guitar” Murphy and Eddie Floyd.
Not long afterward though, Waken decidedly quit the business for personal reasons and began to write and record his own songs. He also began to study woodcraft. He taught himself the art of walking long distances carrying very little weight, traditional wooden bow making, hide tanning, friction fire, eating & using wild plants and other outdoor living skills. In 2000 he became known as ‘Dandelion John‘ when he thru hiked the entire Appalachian Trail- carrying only an 11 lb pack.
In 2006 he joined Paperhand Puppet Intervention. Renowned for their beautiful giant puppets, stilters and live music, Paperhand gave Waken an opportunity to help create magic through art and sound. As well as performing as a puppeteer for many years, Waken began to develop into a multi instrumentalist. He wrote and performed many of the award winning songs for the theater troupe.
In 2009 he began to play with the great Jonathan Byrd. Always the consummate side guy and ‘pickup cowboy’, Johnny Waken continues to aspire to colorize and bring the best of his art to Byrd’s amazing songs.
“My best note is the one I don’t play.”
Paul Ford –cello
“He’s a total professional, a true blue friend, and a badass bottom end – AND he recommends great books…” – Corin Raymond