Listening Local: Meet Daniel Byrnes
By: LUKE VOSE, July 23, 2014
One summer night many years ago I was hanging out on the steps of the Woods Hole Community Hall. As my crew skateboarded up and down Water Street, smoked cigarettes, told jokes and tried to look cool, a group of guys a couple years older hauled instruments and equipment into the hall. We were curious but did our best not to appear so. When I heard the opening notes of Marvin Gaye’s classic “Let’s Get it On,” I just had to pay the $5 cover charge and see the band. Center stage was an affable looking young man with a ponytail playing the guitar and belting out the tune with a passion that would have made Marvin proud. That young man was Daniel Byrnes and over the course of many years and lineup changes he has been consistently putting on great shows and releasing quality original music. Today Daniel is a staple in both the Cape Cod and Boston music scenes.
The latest album by the Daniel Byrnes band, 2012’s "A New Song to Sing," is a lush recording spanning blues, county and psychedelic, all rooted in rock and soul. I recently abandoned all notions of not appearing curious and picked Daniel’s brain about his music.
Luke Vose: Do you remember the song or album that inspired you to pick up a guitar?
Daniel Byrnes: I can think of a few good records from the olden days. Matthew Sweet’s “Girlfriend,” I loved that album when I first started playing guitar. The songs are awesome! Richard Lloyd and Robert Quine’s lead guitar on that record is so disgusting and beautifully out of control. Greg Leisz’s weeping pedal steel guitar is incredible on the down tempo tunes. Robert Johnson’s “The Complete Recordings.” I wore those CDs out back in the day. I have a transcription of the guitar part on Crossroad Blues and I’m still trying to figure out how he played that. Oh yeah…he sold his soul to the devil. Prince’s “Purple Rain” was my first tape when I was a kid.
LV: Tell me about a live performance you saw that deeply impacted you.
DB: One of my favorite live shows was Ryan Adams and the Cardinals at Boston Pavilion in 2008. Incredible show! Great songs, killer band, a perfect night. The day I met my wife, Sarah, we talked about how much we both love Ryan Adams and how we were both at that show. If I wasn’t at that show I could be in a much different place today. That show had a deep impact on me on a lot of levels.
LV: What is your writing process like?
DB: For me it’s different every time. “Fourth of July” is the only song I wrote in a way that made any sense. I wrote an outline of what I wanted to say, wrote all the verses and recorded it in one sitting. That’s the version on the record. If only it was that easy every time. When the summer hits, I’m so busy playing that it doesn’t leave much time for writing. Songwriting is a winter sport.
LV: How has being from the Cape shaped you as a musician?
DB: I don’t want to give people the wrong impression here. I’m a washashore. I’m originally from Canton. When my parents split up my dad moved down to Pocasset. When I would visit he would take me out to local live music venues. It was crazy to me that there was so much live music happening on the Cape.
LV: Who is one musician you would love to tour with?
DB: I’d love to tour again but for now I’m happy to drive down to play every Thursday with my band to play at The Beach House for a mini tour every week. I’m also pumped to play the Real Cape Festival on August 2 with Crooked Coast. All right if I must, I’d like to be the opening act on a Ween reunion tour.
Catch the Daniel Byrnes band every Thursday night at The Beach House, and Daniel Byrnes and John Beninghof acoustic at The Boathouse every Sunday afternoon. For more information and to buy the new album, go to danielbyrnesband.com.