David Adam Byrnes Highlights Traditional Country Sound In New Album "Neon Town"
Country Music has become a melting pot for many genres of music. People have different opinions about this. Some people stick to the traditional country sound and don't think that should ever change, meanwhile some are drawn to the fresh beats and new wave of Pop Country and yet others sit right in between, like myself. As a fan of all Country Music, I will say one thing... there is nothing, I MEAN NOTHING like the sound of traditional country with some steel guitar, fiddle and a raw voice where the talent is so clear. You know who fits that bill to a tee? David Adam Byrnes. No auto-tune, no beats, just a killer voice and a guitar.
Get to Know David
"Yeah man, pretty simple. My folks had the local radio station on every morning when I was a kid. That was the usual routine. Then my parents took me to see George Strait in Little Rock, Arkansas. I'm from just outside of there so it was kind of like a hometown show. I got to see George Strait at 3 years old and I don't know what it was, but I knew at that moment that Country Music was what I wanted to do. As I grew up I knew I would never be George Strait, but singing is all I wanted to do. That desire hasn’t changed for a second - whether I was 3 or 33 - like I am now. Anytime people were over, I would get up on the fireplace in my Batman or Ninja Turtle pajamas and put on my own shows. My dad was in a performing group that would go to nursing homes through his work called "The Pioneers”. At age 5 I started going with him and continued to do that every Monday growing up. I went all through high school until I moved to Nashville. Before I was old enough to be in my own band and play bars I would do all the talent shows and things like that. It was my junior year of high school when I finally started a band. We would play shows in people's backyards and local dive bars around Central Arkansas. My senior year I started a new band. There were a few Mexican brothers in the band and we started to play at the local Mexican restaurant on Saturday's. A band called "Chuey & The Dudes" would play that night and we jumped in with them. Then the owner let us play each Tuesday and we really brought a crowd.
I didn't do the normal things high school kids were doing. Instead, I was playing shows 4-5 times a week. On a Friday night, I would throw off my shoulder pads after my football game and haul ass to whatever venue I was playing. Playing that Mexican restaurant had really grown my local fan base. I met some people who took me to Nashville after I graduated from high school which gave me the opportunity to meet some people there. To keep my parents happy, I did the college thing - for half a semester. I knew college wasn't my thing and honestly it hit me on my graduation day. I literally grabbed my diploma and had to haul ass across the river to open for Hank Jr.. I knew college was a waste of time so I made the move to Nashville, where I spent 11 years. I've always loved traditional country music, even back in high school. The record that saved my life was "Savin' the Honkey Tonk" by Mark Chesnutt. At the time this came out, Rascal Flatts and Emerson Drive had started to bring the pop sound to the table and I just didn't care for it. I remember a special came on with Mark Chesnutt performing. He played that record and I knew that's what I wanted to play and the sound I wanted to replicate. The 90’s was filled with artists like Tracy Lawrence, Chesnutt, Singletary, George Strait and those kinds of guys. I was like "well, who made them?" and that's when I really started digging back into the history. I discovered George Jones, Gene Watson, Merle Haggard and Waylon and all of those cats. I just kept looking back and my entire life was a human jukebox - from playing 4-hour cover gigs in Nashville and playing on Broadway.
When I got to town, Fiddle & Steel was my second home. I remember that I couldn't play on Broadway because I was under age. At the Fiddle they knew me and I was always there so it was fine. Some of the guys who wrote hits in the 90’s kind of took me under their wing. It was Labor Day weekend, a bunch of us were all at a party and these guys were all drinking and hammered. I was underage, a good kid and "wasn't going to partake". Tommy Joe Wilson was there and didn't want to play his shift on Broadway that day. He set it up where I took his spot and played with his guys. It just so happened that while I was performing, a guy who was starting his own publishing company and record label walked by. He approached me and said "I'm starting this company and I want to sign you right now. You blew me away and I want to create this whole company around you". Within the first year in Nashville I had a publishing and record deal. That deal screwed me but a lot of things along the way have helped me get to where I am now. It's all a blessing in disguise. I spent that first year learning how to be a musician, I was on stage with guys who played with top tier acts in Nashville. I signed that deal and got to be in the room with a bunch of hit songwriters and tried to be a sponge and learn the craft. Josh Thompson, Chris Young, Me and my buddy Jay and shit. Lee Brice and Jerrod Niemann, you never knew who was hanging out with who. I did that scene for a while. They put out my first single and I got to tour the whole country. Growing up in Arkansas I was all about the south and tradition, but traveling the country I realized Country Music was everywhere. Ultimately that deal fell through,the company folded and there was some terrible contract language that allowed another company to buy them. They basically “owned” me but did nothing with me so I was stuck on the sidelines for a while. I was set to sign another pub deal with 5-6 cuts, depending on the deal. That didn't pan out the way I'd hoped. At that point I was alone and didn't know where to turn. Thank god I had a buddy named Arlis Albritton who managed guys like Jamey Johnson. Arlis would just reach out to some of his guys and try to find me a show or a write or even to sell t-shirts. Sometimes I would get 20-minutes to play, even if it was while they were breaking the stage down, just to get in front of real people. I pushed back toward my country sound. It seemed like people actually enjoyed hearing traditional country even though Nashville was pushing this bro-country thing and opened my eyes.
Two factors in the next year really hit me. The first...I ran into Daryle Singletary and he looked me up and down and was like "what in the hell are you doing"? He flat out told me I was one of the last people who gave him hope for traditional country music. "Stop what this is and get back to your roots". When you have one of your heroes tell you that,it hits you pretty hard man. The second factor was...Arlis started to manage me and got me out to the NFR at the Mirage. It was a sea of cowboy hats and they were loving my sound. It really opened my eyes that these country music fans exist. Somewhere during this time I’m in Champagne, Illinois and staying with a buddy of mine to do some shows. While I'm packing my bags to go home to Nashville I hear Texas Country coming from his stereo. I'm not going to lie, it wasn't registering with me.. All of a sudden Cody Johnson came on and I ran out and asked him "who the hell is that and why is he doing the kind of country I'm told I'm not allowed to do?" At that moment, I started to be myself again. I found out that my engineer had engineered that record for Cody. I worked with his producer Trent Willmon. That one day changed everything for me. I started to write “Beer Bucket List” with Michael White. It was my last day in town before Thanksgiving and we started the song. My friend calls me and goes "Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers are in town tonight. Stay and go with me". I changed plans and we went to the concert. Wade is about to play a song and talks about how he and Randy had songs in the top 30, but the songs were never hits according to Nashville. Yet they are selling out shows in Nashville doing it “their way” and my light bulb went off. I got connected with Trent Willmon and we wrote some songs. They weren't great - we were doing the” getting to know each other” thing, but in the next few months we wrote "Tequila Salt and Time". After this, Silverado Records came knocking on the door. I'll be honest, I didn't like anything about it. Didn't get good vibes, but I’d done all that I could without funding and knew we needed a record. We signed the deal and got Trent to agree to produce the record. We went into the studio in January of 2018 and cut this Neon Town record. I was high on life and made a phone call to Trent. I knew Cody Johnson was playing in Fayetteville, Arkansas and I wanted to be on that bill. I was hoping he could pull some strings and luckily it worked out. This led me to getting to open for all these Texas heavy hitters. These artists and their crews, band members and managers were all coming up to me asking me why I was still in Nashville. They told me to consider moving to Texas. Meanwhile, Silverado Records was supposed to put out my first single. They’d made all these promises and when the release date came, just the song came out - no promo, nothing.
Finally, I got up and moved to Texas and started playing any bar I could. From tour buses and playing 30 or 60 minute sets of my own music to playing 4 hour cover gigs again was a gut check. It made me realize how much I wanted this career. I had been writing a lot with Curtis Grimes the past few years. He’d always told me that if I ever moved down to Texas I should give him a call and he'd try to help me out. After a month I finally gave him a call. Curtis passed on his manager’s number and gave me the green light to open any show of his. That led to working with Curtis' manager who is my manager today. With Curtis helping me, I got back to playing bigger shows in dance halls. I put together a band and finally got a single out. Sent "Beer Bucket List" to Texas Radio and the label ok'd it. I'll be damned - that single flew up the chart. While this was going on, I got to play some amazing shows. Word was really getting out about our band around Texas.
At this point though, I start catching Silverado in numerous lies. It was one shady thing after another. I snapped when I got an e-mail from Silverado saying they are going to “end me”. Unfortunately I had to lawyer up. While this is going on, the single gets to #1 on Texas radio. It was such a sigh of relief to reach that milestone after so many years. At the same time, it seemed tarnished because I knew the things going on with the label. I wasn't going to be able to put out a single for a while. It ended up being 8 months and during this time crowds started to dwindle. When Silverado figured out that I wasn't going away, they gave up. Last September they contacted me. The agreement was... if they gave me this record, I would just go away. That was the end. I got my masters and finally got to put out the music like I wanted. Everything was planned out - I was going to release a few singles, release the album in May and had all these shows set up. The plan was for a 6-week nationwide release tour and to hit all these markets to help me get going again. Then BOOM! Covid-19 hit which was by no means a good thing. As a result, I did all these Facebook Live's and teamed up with different pages and companies which helped the record even more. Texas opened back up in May and the band played wherever we could. I've had one weekend off since May and shows were packing out. I hired a team, set up a game plan and ended up getting love from a lot of places to help out the album. Now the album is here, it's out and God is good. I'm very grateful for the way everything turned out."
What's better than a cold beer and some music that brings you back to your roots... Nothing. David Adam Byrnes has got you covered
If you are looking for that old school shit that makes you proud to be a true Country Music fan, you have found the right place. David Adam Byrnes has found his niche and has been consistent in releasing honest, well written songs that have some personality. If DAB was hitting his prime in the 90’s, I think we would truly have one of the biggest names in Country Music. Even in an era led by Pop-Country, David has found a home in Texas Country and is gaining more and more popularity by the day. He is already a household name. Authentic and talented, David Adam Byrnes brings his sound and paints a picture with his album "Neon Town". Top to bottom - a must listen.
Q & A With David
Q: What was the "light bulb" moment for you when you knew you wanted to do Country Music for a living?
A: "Man, if I had to say when it happened, it would be when I was 3 years old and going to see George Strait, I don't know if there has been a moment when it clicked that this is reality. I'm sure there was one, but since I was little, I knew this is what I wanted to do. I was always surrounded by it. I got teachers to come out to my shows when I was in elementary school. They always tell people "this is what David always wanted to do and he never steered away from it". If I had to pinpoint a moment where I am like "holy shit, I'm doing it" , that would be the show I opened for Hank Jr. after my high school graduation. Even though he played at 9 pm and I played at 2 in the afternoon. I am so thankful for every moment and I cherish every moment."
Q: What was your favorite show that you've performed at?
A: "I'll tell you what, I can't pick one but I can narrow it down to a list of a few. One of the most memorable moments was when I moved to Nashville and signed that record deal. The first show after, wasn't going back to Arkansas, wasn't playing a bar at Broadway, it was a legit show to open for Mark Chesnutt in Macon, Georgia and I knew some dudes in the band and we get done with our set and we are hanging out I remember asked my buddy Steve if they still played that "Savin' the Honkey Tonk" record and he said "not usually, but I'll ask him" and it was mid-show and I just turned 21 and they are feeding me Jagerbombs like it's candy. Steve who plays in Mark’s band and I are hammered and somehow me and my bass player are right in front of the stage. Steve looks down at me and whispers in Chesnutt's ear and responded with "who in the hell asked for that?" and he points down to me and goes "I don't even remember the words, you come up and sing it", so first show I went up and sang with Mark Chesnutt and he hugged me after and goes "you meet me by the bus after this is over and we are going to drink us some Miller Lite's and play some Country Music". We did, we sat there until 4 am. The most memorable was opening for Daryle (Singletary). I got to play my last shows in my 20's and the first shows in my 30's with Mark. That weekend was special to me. I know there are a million others, but those two stand out to me."
Q: If you could go back 5-10 years what advice would you give to your younger self?
A: "There are three major things, and I've answered this so many times in the last few weeks I got it down to a tee. One: stop and smell the roses. It sounds like a cliche, generic answer, but it's the truth. There were times in my career I got some cool opportunities but I was looking so far beyond. I wish I would have stopped and took in the moment instead of asking what's next. Second: I wish I got to know the business side of things. I was a sheltered kid growing up and had the mindset that “you are friends with everyone until they give you a reason not to be”. Realistically, in the music industry, there are more snakes than there are good people. I wish I was more cautious and less trusting with some people. Number three: don't chase. Be you, be original and accept whatever comes along with that."
If you are just discovering David Adam Byrnes, head over and stream his music on your favorite digital platform and give him a follow on his Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Spotify.