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Byrnes and Anderson sing the blues

East meets west on Millennium Place stage

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WHO: Jim Byrnes & Matt Andersen

WHAT: 2007-08 Performance Series

WHEN: Wednesday, Jan. 9, 8 p.m.

WHERE: Millennium Place

TICKETS: $19 to $22

A soulful singer from Missouri who set down roots in B.C. long ago will soon return to Whistler to showcase his talents.

Juno award-winning Jim Byrnes was born in blues country — St. Louis, Missouri — raised on a steady diet of blues, roots and rock music.

Byrnes’s deep, smoky lyrics are mixed with funky guitar riffs, and his songs range from toe-tapping to downright sorrowful.

Music has always been part of Byrnes’s life — growing up on the north side of St. Louis, the original stomping grounds of Chuck Berry, Johnny Johnson, and Tina Turner, he began playing piano at age five. By age 13, he was singing and playing blues guitar.

But in addition to a career in the music industry, Byrnes is also an actor, best known for his roles on the television shows, Wiseguy and Highlander.

Throughout his musical career, Byrnes has played with some legendary figures in the industry, including Furry Lewis, Henry Townsend, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Taj Mahal, Robert Cray, and Ray Charles, to name a few.

On his most recent CD, House of Refuge , Vancouver-based Byrnes has tapped into true blues traditions, offering up 12 fresh tracks that will appeal to the diehard blues fans, or simply all around music-lovers.

Recorded and produced in Vancouver by fellow Juno award-winner, Steve Dawson, the gospel-inspired CD is a collaborative effort of Byrnes and Dawson on guitars, Jesse Zubot on fiddle and mandolin, Elliot Polsky on percussion and drums, Keith Lowe on double bass, Chris Gestrin on keyboard/organ/accordion and the gospel trio The Sojourners on vocals.

Byrnes is set to take the stage at Millennium Place on Jan. 9, as part of the 2007-08 Performance Series hosted by the Whistler Arts Council. The series brings a variety of theatre, music, dance and comedic performances by both Canadian and international touring artists to Whistler each year.

Joining Byrnes is New Brunswick performer, Matt Andersen. Known for his “larger than life showmanship,” the East Coast musician wows audiences with his take on blues, roots and rock music.

Within the past few years, Andersen has released a number of CDs, received nominations for East Coast Music Awards, and toured as a headliner at festival clubs and theatres throughout North America.

He has played with well-known artists like America, Randy Bachman, Bo Diddley, Little Feat, and now, Byrnes.

With plans to release a new studio CD this spring, and launch a tour throughout the UK, Europe and additional North American locations, this East Coast musician is making quick strides into the music industry.

With Byrnes on his Gibson 1969 Hummingbird, and Andersen accompanying, the Whistler audience can expect to be enchanted with a raw, soul-stirring performance.

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