“...a folk singer with the heart of a rock 'n' roll band.” — K. Oliver, Free Times
“One of the top 50 songwriters of the last 50 years. ” — Rich Warren of WFMT in the Chicago Tribune
“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.” — Scott Alarik, Boston Globe
“Jonathan Byrd is half crazy and all brilliant. The raw experience embedded like buckshot in his songs and stories make them vital, undeniable; required listening.” — No Depression
“In the 8 year history of the Rice Festival, no one has arrived, virtually unkown to the audience, and ended up owning the weekend by the time the festival was done as Jonathan Byrd did. It showed in unprecedented merchandise sales as well as the continued buzz about his music, well after the festival had past. We look forward to Jonathan performing at our 10th anniversary, far from unknown this time, but by demand.” — Jeff Gavin, Rice Festival, Fischer, Texas
“Jonathan Byrd's range as a purveyor of American roots music is practically intimidating; across his career, he's flirted with bluegrass bustle, embodied country crooning, and turned self-made folk heroes into new anthems so well that it's hard to hang his hat on any one genre.” — Grason Have Currin, The Independent
“Another one of those cats that qualifies as 'one of the heaviest cats you probably never heard of, Byrd is running hard to be the folkie's folkie. The easiest way to describe him to the uninitiated for quick understanding is that he's like a dyed in the wool North Carolinian John Koerner. Sly, subversive and able to say more in two words than most other people can say in a novel, Byrd is clearly one of the tent poles of contemporary folk music. He sounds like he's straight from the back porch but he's taken a long, hard look at life and knows how to bring it into focus. This...is going to set your ears on fire, even if you aren't a folkie.” — Midwest Record
“Jonathan Byrd swings from the roots of American music...He jumps between gutbucket blues and tender ballads, empathetic work laments and sympathetic character studies...Byrd shares the often-missed, always poignant tales of the small people that make this world such a big place.” — Grayson Currin, The Independent
“It seemed every folk musician I had talked to since my arrival in Boston was insisting I check out Jonathan Byrd. So I dutifully arrived at Passim...Jonathan Byrd, the man, the myth, the soon-to-be legend...his spine-tingling, sometimes funny songs make the listener feel they have been invited right into the songwriter's life.” — Amber Amrick, The Backstage Beat
“Jonathan Byrd's songs just slay me. After each one, I feel like I've been transported to another world, like I've just read a really great book."” — Paige Travis, Tennessee Shines Radio Show, WDVX
“It was a spectacular show. He won a bunch of new fans and a lot of hearts.” — Ihor Radysh, Music on 4, New York, NY
“Jonathan's delightful, substantive songs are rich with imagery and textures of influences from Appalachian, country, early American balladry and old timey folk music. A stalwart of modern folk music, Jonathan is constantly evolving in new musical directions and each incarnation has proven to be masterful.” — Uncle Calvin's Coffeehouse, Dallas, Tx
“One of the best performances we've ever had in the years of doing the series...he knocked us out.” — Bill Payne, Triad Acoustic Stage
“Jonathan Byrd doesn't sing songs; he sings truth.” — Mare Wakefield, Performing Songwriter
“Jonathan...thrives on a connection with his audiences and fans, indeed it seems to me to be an integral part of his life force. If what you are seeking in music and performers is sincerity and authenticity , then you will not want to miss any chance you get to see Jonathan Byrd live, ... with his combination of technical skill on guitar , his vocals , and a knack for songs that can touch the very core of your being” — Robert Anderson
“The show was GREAT! Everybody loved Jonathan.” — Sandra Odom, Fairfield Studios, Shreveport, LA
“Jonathan touches your soul. His good heart, and common sense outlook to life, clearly comes through in his songs. He'll have you both laughing and tearing up within the space of a few minutes. ” — Jeanne Murrin Wilkinson, No Depression
Jonathan Byrd is a preacher's son, a Gulf War veteran, and an award-winning songwriter from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, known for literary, outsider songs that have become campfire favorites. The Chicago Tribune called Byrd "one of the top 50 songwriters of the past 50 years."
Multi-instrumentalist Johnny Waken cut his teeth on electric guitar in Pittsburgh with rock legend Norm Nardini, opening for The Blues Brothers Band on their Red, Hot & Blue tour in 1992. On stage and after hours, he jammed with members of Bon Jovi and the legendary Steve Cropper. At the age of 24, Waken left music to pursue primitive skills and through-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2000 with an eleven-pound pack. Returning to music years later Johnny joined theatre troupe Paperhand Puppet Intervention, contributing to scores for nine shows and winning 4 Indy Awards for best original music.
Jonathan Byrd and The Pickup Cowboy are musical gunslingers, vaudevillian hucksters, and old-fashioned tent revivalists. Between heartbreaking ballads and hell-raising sing-alongs, the Cowboys entertain and get audiences involved in the show.