Good Afternoon Shawn! Thank you so much for talking with Battered and Brewed!
I heard you have been touring in your RV with your family this summer, tell us how that came about?
About a year ago we bought an RV. It’s a 2008 27′ Jayco Greyhawk Class C. It’s perfect for my wife and I, and our year old pup named Bucky. We’d been looking for a used RV for about a year but just never found “the one,” until one came up on Craiglist that was exactly what we wanted and in our price range. About 6 months ago, I released my 3rd solo record “Slow Bullet” and my wife Amy does all my booking and road managing. She’s quite good at it. So the three of us are currently in the middle of a 7 week tour playing small venues and house concerts from the forgotten coast of Florida to Northern Maine.
I am sure cooking has been a challenge and experience! What does your kitchen setup look like.
The RV has a small kitchenette with an oven, stovetop, and microwave. To be honest we never use that stuff. Well, the microwave from time to time to heat something up. We do all of our cooking outside on the grill. The RV has a built in gas grill station that attaches to the side.
How cool! Without a lot of space for storage how do you get by with limited ingredients? What is a must have in the pantry?
We keep it simple. The essentials in the pantry are olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, Greek seasoning, and lemon pepper. Sometimes we pick up a local seasoning if we find something that strikes our fancy. Also in the panty is usually some good sourdough or Italian bread and red potatoes.
With Labor Day this weekend, whats a good recipe for camping?
I’m a fan of a good ole cheeseburger. Some hand pattied ground round (the good stuff) with some seasoning. Maybe just some salt and cracked pepper, cooked medium on the grill. Then throw some sharp cheddar or blue cheese on there with some grilled onions, lettuce, and tomato. The bun is very important to me. I usually skip the bun and toast up some nice sourdough bread on the grill. It’s gotta have a little crunch. Nothing beats a burger done right in my book. To compliment the burger we get some potatoes, chop em’ up, throw em’ in a little makeshift aluminum foil bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper, and throw it on the grill. Cook em’ till they crunch. Put it all on a paper plate, stick an Amercian flag in it, and serve it up!
Do you like to jam out while cooking?
I like a little music while I cook. Cook a little. Have a sip of beer. Cook a little more. Get a rhythm going. Make it fun.
What does your cooking play list look like?
When I’m cooking up a good ole American cheeseburger I like some good ole American country music in my ears. Anything from Hank Sr. to Jamey Johnson. I’m a big fan of Bluegrass music and the Grascals always put me in a good mood for cooking.
Do you find yourself eating out just as much as staying in the RV? Where do you like go to eat?
Sometimes we can’t cook and of course while we’re on the road we’ll need to eat out. We have a little system. While I drive, my wife Amy will get on her phone and start finding spots up the road where we could stop and get something good. She’s really good at finding great little locally owned sandwich shops. We’ll sometimes even route our trip so we can hit the places we know we love from other road trips. For instance when driving through Eerie, PA we go to Picasso’s Sandwich and Soups. Amazing! There’s a killer panini place just outside of Burlington, VT right by the airport called the Aviation Deli. They have a hot pastrami panini that could be a runner up for the best sandwich I’ve ever had. We always try to find something you can only get when your in that area. If we HAVE to get fast food we go for Chick Fil-A and Five Guys Burgers. Subway can suck an egg. Worst sandwiches ever.
What food is your food vice? You know, one you sneak in a little extra of when no one is looking.
What is the weirdest thing you’ve eaten?
Hmm. That’s tough. I like interesting food, which I’ve heard some people call weird, but it’s not weird to me. Just delicious like hot and spicy kimchi soups are a favorite, and raw oysters are another. But weird? I don’t know. How about Haggis? I had it many times when I toured in Scotland. It’s all the stuff from the animal you probably wouldn’t want to eat (tongue, heart, kidneys, lung) all ground up with seasoning, oatmeal, and then encased into a sheep’s stomach. Then it’s boiled for 3 hours and served. It’s sounds disgusting, but I thought it was amazing. I ordered it everywhere I went over there. I even had a haggis pizza in Edinboro.
You keep a very busy tour schedule, where is one of your favorite places to travel and what’s the most memorable meal you have had?
I love it when we’re near the coast most of all. Anywhere that has fresh seafood, I’m a fan of. Places like Portland, Maine, Seattle, Apalachicola, Florida, and San Diego. I love mussels, clams, and oysters, so anytime I can get some I jump at the opportunity.
Now that you have been in Nashville awhile, where are some of your favorite places to get southern classics?
Nashville does have some gems. You gotta love the Loveless Cafe for fried chicken and biscuits. Monell’s in Germantown is the best family style joint in Nashville, in my opinion. I’m also a huge fan of hot chicken, that’s all the rage right now. Hattie B’s on Charlotte Pike is our go to. Also love Pepper Fire on Gallatin Rd in East Nashville, can’t go wrong.
Take us back to 2003, washing dishes at the Bluebird Cafe. What did you take away from that experience?
Yeah, I moved to Nashville when I was 30 and I’m 43 now. I left Boston wanting desperately to follow in my songwriting hero’s footsteps. Nashville was THE place to go, so I rented a U-Haul and just headed south. My best friend and songwriting partner, Chuck McCarthy, moved there a few months earlier and secured an apartment for us. I showed up and a few weeks later got a job scrubbing dishes at the Bluebird Cafe, arguably the most famous songwriter club in the world. All my heroes played there. I feel lucky I got to experience Nashville before it became what it is today. Nashville is starting to feel more like LA and corporate, which I’m not a fan of. Back in the early 2000’s, when I moved there, it was just a cool little town. Working at the Bluebird back then was a gift. Every night I got to listen to some of the best songwriters in the business. After the dinner rush, things would slow down in the kitchen, and I would get to stand in the back and watch the show. I saw the all the greats play their tunes like Guy Clark, Steve Earl, Don Schlitz, Lucinda Williams, Rodney Crowell, Danny Flowers, and the list goes on and on. I learned how to write great songs by proxy, just breathing the same air. The first time I got to play the Bluebird, I was working. I was literally washing dishes and the came back and said “there was a no show and they need another writer.” I took off my dirty apron and sang a few songs. It was so cool. It was a different place back then. It was fun and loose. Mostly everyone who worked there was a songwriter. When the place closed around midnight, we’d finish cleaning up and post up to the bar, usually with a guitar in hand. Sometimes the featured writers would stay with us and have a drink or ten. Cigarette smoke filled the room like a ghost. Back then smoking was still allowed, though I must say I didn’t smoke. (Shut up mom:). It’s that same feeling you get when you walk into an empty church. The people have all gone home and the place is empty, but there’s just some sort of energy in the air. I know it sounds cheesy, but that’s the only way I could describe it. Midnight was when the Bluebird really came to life back then. We all knew we were into something really special and we didn’t take it for granted. I learned a lot from my time working there.
Your second self produced record, “Pine Trees, Cheap Wine, and the Moon,” that was released in 2012 was great. Whats the story behind that title and whats you favorite cheap wine?
Thank you. That song was co-written with my two songwriter buddies, Chuck McCarthy and Todd Elgin. I thought of the title and liked it, so we just wrote a little love song around the title “pine trees, cheap wine, and the moon, these three things I know will get me close to you.” There’s just something romantic about being in the middle of nowhere in nature and listening to the crickets, staring up at the moon. And of course sipping on a little something. I’m more of a beer guy myself, but once in a while a little wine hits the spot. For a nice summer night like that, a little strawberry wine would be nice. Definitely homemade:)
Aside from your passion for food and music, what’s the one thing that really keeps you ticking?
Well, what keeps me ticking is just being around friends and family. And my dog Bucky. I love just being outside in nature, fishing, hiking, and listening to the birds. To me there’s nothing better than the sound of nature.
Finally for Battered and Brewed, If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be and what would you drink?
It may have to be Leonard Cohen. Aside from being a genius songwriter and lyricist, he’s a deeply grounded and spiritual man. I’d love to drink a nice whiskey on the rocks in a dimly lit bar. We’d both be wearing suits. And we wouldn’t talk. Just be.
Description: Nashville based singer/songwriter Shawn Byrne has a seemingly endless list of accomplishments and is adding to that list with the release of his third project, “Slow Bullet.” This full-length album consists of twelve masterfully written original songs. The title track showcases the flawless skills from musicians such as bassist Dave Roe (Johnny Cash, Dwight Yokum) pedal steel player Dan Gaylsh (Rodney Atkins) and Fiddle player Eamon McLoughlin (Josh Turner, Ashley Monroe). Off The Rails gives the listeners an up-close look at Shawn’s diversity vocally and instrumentally and incorporates Jamie Johnson’s (The Grascals) distinctive sound to create one-of-a-kind harmonies. Each song showcases Shawn’s impeccable writing, performance and production skills.
Byrne is no stranger to the music scene. With 20 cuts to his name, a SESAC Writer’s Award for “Ol’ Cook Pot” (recorded by The Duhks), television appearances on Good Morning America, Jimmy Fallon, the CMA Awards and many others; he has shared the stage with some of Country Music’s finest including Rodney Atkins, James Otto, Ashton Shepherd, Kelleigh Bannen, Mark Collie and many others; has played legendary venues like the Grand Ole Opry, The Ryman, Nissan Stadium during CMA Music Festival; performed in front of former president George W. Bush for his homecoming celebration in Midland, TX and has been a part of countless songwriters festivals. It’s no wonder why the Nashville Scene has labeled Byrne, “Nashville’s Best Kept Secret.”
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