Clinton County artist spotlight: George Byrd


By John Hamilton - jhamilton@wnewsj.com



George Byrd plays his banjo at the Laurel Cove Festival in Kentucky in June.

George Byrd plays his banjo at the Laurel Cove Festival in Kentucky in June.


Submitted photo

WILMINGTON — This local artist will look for any reason to sing or play a little tune.

George Byrd, a stay-at-home dad in Wilmington, has played many solo gigs and with multiple bands in the area, and even has his own space to record his music on Main Street — Ves Akimbo.

But where did Byrd’s love of music get started?

“There’s a whole bunch of ways I can look at it. But, I’d have to give all the credit to Lowell Woodrey,” said Byrd. “It was in the fourth grade, [Woodrey, his elementary school music teacher] had me stick around after class to sing. He’d say to the kid next to me ‘Okay, you sing’ then he’d point to me and say ‘Now you sing.’ ”

After Byrd and the other kids sang a bit, Woodrey sent the others out and gave a note to Byrd saying he should try out for the St. Patrick Episcopal Boys Choir. It was joining that choir where Byrd started to learn how to read music, work with other musicians, and so on.

“From then on, if there was an opportunity to make some noise I’d usually get in where I’d fit in,” he said.

Since he started performing gigs in 1999 — the first band he played with was The Skawalkers (formerly Luke & the Skawalkers) — Byrd has gone on to perform at almost any venue possible. Sometimes big ones at a festival such as opening for Pokey LaFarge and Iron & Wine, and sometimes small local ones like at Wilmington’s TinCap.

“As a performer, I love playing big shows where there’s a lot of energy,” said Byrd. “I love playing shows where I’m talking to the crowd and they’re talking back. Someone will shout ‘Play some Sturgill Simpson’ or ‘Play Waylon Jennings.’ And I’m like, you think I won’t?”

He also loves just performing for friends and family. He considers himself fortunate to live in a town that has plenty of opportunities.

“It’s like I’m getting out there in the community but I’m getting different parts of it. I’m not just getting the same thing,” he said.

One of the things he hopes to do in the future is to host a free and open show with other musicians in Wilmington where people come and have a fun experience.

When it comes to tips for anyone wanting to follow a similar path, he recommends the following: Always be professional and punctual, clear communications with anyone you’re working with, and knowing what the room is expecting.

“It’s like are they looking for someone who will be part MC along with being a performer,” he said. “And always play to your strengths.”

He also advises “rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.”

For more info and to hear Byrd’s music visit vesakimbo.bandcamp.com .

George Byrd plays his banjo at the Laurel Cove Festival in Kentucky in June.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2021/08/web1_byrdpic.jpgGeorge Byrd plays his banjo at the Laurel Cove Festival in Kentucky in June. Submitted photo

By John Hamilton

jhamilton@wnewsj.com

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574.

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574.