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Jonathan Byrd and The Pickup Cowboy coming to Nisswa

Jonathan Byrd and The Pickup Cowboy will perform for the Grassroots Concerts series at 7:30 p.m. March 16 at the Live Well Night Club and Coffee Bar in Nisswa. Submitted

NISSWA—Jonathan Byrd and The Pickup Cowboy will perform for the Grassroots Concerts series at 7:30 p.m. March 16 at the Live Well Night Club and Coffee Bar in Nisswa.

Byrd is a preacher's son, a Gulf War veteran, and an award-winning songwriter from Chapel Hill, N.C., known for literary, outsider songs that have become campfire favorites, a news release stated.

His childhood was filled with religion and faith experiences.

"In church, my father preached and my mother played piano for the services," Byrd stated. "I learned how to sing in church."

His young adulthood took him to faraway places in the military before he returned to the U.S. and struck out on his musical adventures.

"After my time was up, I spent some days in Virginia Beach, playing in a heavy rock band called Coup d'Etat at first, and then Day 11, which was just a license plate we saw at a grocery store one day," he stated.

Multi-instrumentalist Johnny Waken, also known as The Pickup Cowboy, cut his teeth on electric guitar in Pittsburgh with rock legend Norm Nardini, opening for The Blues Brothers Band on their Red, Hot and Blue tour in 1992.

More recently, Waken joined North Carolina theatre troupe Paperhand Puppet Intervention, contributing to scores for nine shows and winning four 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 heart-lifting sing-alongs, the Cowboys entertain and get audiences involved in the show, the release stated.

Byrd, whose only other Grassroots Concerts appearance was in November 2012, has amassed many memories from a well-traveled road.

"A girlfriend gave me my first acoustic guitar, a Fender," he stated. "I think she stole it. She stole

enough money from me that I think I paid her for it."

His rock years became numbered upon discovery of an acoustic sound that added diversity to his venues. The epiphany came at an old-time fiddlers' convention.

"Whatever these people had a hold of, I wanted some of it," he stated. "It shot straight down into my veins like lightning and made my hair stand up on end. The music was intense, lyrically cut down to the bone."

The critics have heaped praise on Byrd for his artistry, which got national notice in 2003 as winner of the Kerrville Folk Festival New Artist award. The Chicago Tribune called him "one of the top 50 songwriters of the past 50 years."

"Mother Tongue" is Byrd's latest album, recorded in Copenhagen with The Sentimentals.

"We explored Søren Kierkegaard and Bob Dylan to find a lyrical language so that we could write songs that held together on an album," he stated. "Dylan and Kierkegaard forced opposing elements into a single idea."

In addition to being a performing musical artist, Byrd is an author. "You've Changed," his first book of poetry and he is working on another book of poetry and photography of horses with Rodney Bursiel.

The rest of the 2018 Grassroots Concerts spring season include Annie Humphrey on April 6; Ann Reed on April 20; and Mark Olson on May 4.

The Live Well Night Club and Coffee Bar is located at the Journey Church in Nisswa.

Grassroots Concerts is completely operated by volunteers and is a nonprofit organization under the Internal Revenue Code. The series began in 1988.

Concert general admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12 with listening attention, when accompanied by an adult. Doors open at 6:30 p.m..

At each concert, non-perishable food and cash donations are welcomed, with donations delivered to local food shelves by Grassroots volunteers.

For more information please call 218-829-4092, go to or

visit Grassroots Concerts on Facebook.