Byrd and Street
In the spring of 2001 something remarkable happened. While recording in Tommy Byrd's studio, Kathy Street sang a simple harmony along with Tommy's melody. But what they heard was something unexpected. It sounded almost like three people singing! They knew they were onto something special, and decided then and there to perform together. Byrd and Street was born. Now, thousands of gigs later, a fourth CD released in 2014 (Words and Music ) is getting airplay around the globe as did their first three CD's Stories of Life, Songs of Love; Love Broke the Fall; and Then and Now, and they're still singing with that rare blend. Maybe it comes from the combination of Kathy's light, almost ethereal sound, and how it meshes with Tommy's earthy, soulful voice. Who knows. But, however it happens, it happens. And they have now been recognized by the TEXAS MUSIC AWARDS with a nomination for Duo/Group of the Year for 2014 as they were in 2012 and 2009. Kathy was also nominated for Female Vocalist for 2012 based on her performance on Then and Now. In addition Tommy was recognized by the KERRVILLE FOLK FESTIVAL in 2013, 2011 and 2009 as a NEW FOLK FINALIST in their song competition.
Byrd and Street continue to perform at venues throughout the southwest. The singer/songwriter team has appeared on radio and television shows, won numerous songwriting competitions, and were Regional Winners at the Kerrville Folk Festival in 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2012. January 8, 2003 was declared Byrd and Street Day by Austin Mayor Will Wynn. Byrd and Street were Officially Showcased at the Southwest Regional Folk Alliance Conference in 2004. In 2005 the song Just an Old House from their CD was licensed by the Redman Foundation, a non-profit organization in Watsonville, CA. In 2007 their song My Forever Family became the official song of the Adoption Coalition of Central Texas, and is being used by other adoption agencies around the country. Austin German Shepherd Rescue licensed Let Me Be Your Friend for use in advertising and promotions in 2008. Their album, Love Broke the Fall was #13 in July '09 on the Folk DJ Chart, made the Folk DJ Top '09 Albums Chart, and was #21 on the Freeform American Roots Chart, all songs on the CD getting airplay. In the spring of 2011, Paul Stookey (of Peter, Paul, and Mary) recorded their song, Let Me Be Your Friend (Lemmie Be Your Friend) to be used for advertising with "Pet Connect" on the east coast. Their third CD, Then and Now released July 2011 was #27 on the Folk DJ Charts for October 2011 and was on the Texas Roots Chart. Words and Music, thier 4th CD released in 2014 has made #8 on the March Folk DJ Charts remaining on the Charts for 4 consecutive months, and was #2 on the Roots Msuci Charts. A 5th CD is set to be released in 2016.
In December 2013, Byrd & Street organized and hosted their fourth annual “Mistletoe Jam,” a collaboration of some of Austin’s finest musicians performing to benefit the Heart Gallery of Central Texas, whose work is to find forever families for children in foster care. . Byrd's song, "My Forever Family” was adopted by the Heart Gallery as well as by other adoption agencies around the country.
Concerts include: The Bugle Boy in La Grange, Open Door Coffee House in Arlington, Live Oak House Concert in Austin,TX, Iron Star hall in Bertram, TX, Boerne Concerts in the Park, Sweet Dreams Winery in Palestine, TX, The Old Firehouse in Edom ,TX; Flat Creek Estates in Marble Falls, Austin Acoustical Cafe in Austin, The Music Room in Austin, Anderson Fair in Houston, Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe in Galveston, Wildwood Sounds in Del Norte, CO, Bat Kat House Concerts in Golden CO, Larry's Guitar Store Concerts in Longmont, CO, Desert Stars in Kingman,AZ , Solid Grounds Coffeehouse in Albuquerque,Santa Fe Music Exchange in Santa Fe, The Performance Space in El Dorado, NM, In the Music Room in Waxahachie,TX, Bernhardt Winery in Plantersville,TX, Thoreau Woods in Huntsville,TX, Green Room Concerts in Austin,TX, Rear Window Listening Room in Ganado,TX , Good Folk in Fayetteville,AR, Sheperd House Concert in Little Rock,AR, Page House Concert in Liberty Hill,TX, St. Mary'sChurch in El Dorado,AR, United Methodist Church in Hot Springs, AR, Faulkner Library in Conway,AR, New Beginnings Church in Little Rock, AR ,Heritage Hall, Middlebury IN, Brehm Library in Mt. Vernon, IL, Riverside Library in Jackson ,MO, Fayettevill Co. Library in Somerville, TN ,Words and Voices in Marshall, TX, The Barn in Linden, TX, Evenings with the Songwriter in Lockhart, TX, One World Theatre-open for Guy Clark, Lori Morgan, Travis Tritt KC Chambers, Hal Ketchum, Jimmy La Fave and Eliza Guilkyson in Austin,TX, Byrd & Street Mistletoe Jam Benefit, Austin,TX, and many private home concerts.
"You've really raised the bar here for quality performances." Nancy Allen:. Faulkner Library, Conway, AR
"I visited places in my heart that I hadn't seen for many years; some brought tears of sadness, some brought tears of joy, but one incredible thing is it was all so welcome and well balanced. Tommy Byrd & Kathy Street are one of the best shows I have ever heard." Alan Vajdos: Rear Window Listening Room in Ganado,TX
Back in '64 John and me... saw the Beatles singing on TV. That's all it took, that was the start, something new was beating in our hearts..."Big Stars in a Little Sky"
And it's being going ever since.
After seeing The Beatles, Tommy and his friend John bought guitars, learned some chords, and started writing songs. They started a band and played all around their hometown in south Arkansas, and even recorded a couple of records which made it to the top of the charts on the local AM radio station. That's when Tommy knew music was going to play a big part in his life.
A lot has happened since then. Tommy and John lost touch when Tommy went off to college, where he helped start a band called River City Street Band. River City wound up in Memphis and became the first all-white band to be signed by STAX Records. They made 2 albums, did a few concerts, even sold records in Japan. But it didn't last, and soon Tommy found himself in Austin, Texas, drawn by the mix of the cosmic cowboys and hippies and the wonderful Austin lifestyle. "To make a living I started writing jingles", Tommy recalled. Sammy Allred, a KVET morning radio show personality, heard his jingles and asked him to play with the Geezinslaw Brothers which he did for several years. "That led to singing with Willie Nelson on Amazing Grace on his album, The Sound in Your Mind. That's one of my all-time favorite memories".
After leaving the Geezinslaws, Tommy became a partner and engineer in a local recording studio where he worked with and learned from some of the best Texas musicians around, like Jerry Jeff Walker, the late greats, Walter Hiatt and Champ Hood of Uncle Walt's Band, Mitch Watkins, Roscoe Beck, Eric Johnson, Marcia Ball, Kinky Friedman, the amazing Johnny Gimble, and so many more. What a wonderful education that was!
Soon he put together his own home recording studio where he recorded demos of his songs, a couple of which were signed to Famous Music in Nashville. Tommy jokingly, and honestly, says, "Some of my songs have been rejected by the biggest names in country music!"
He's won many song writing contests and awards over the years. In the 2006 Austin Songwriters Group Competition, he wrote the #1 country song. But he says that writing the winning song in the Official Song of Austin contest is one of his proudest moments. He won $12,000 in cash and prizes, was interviewed by local TV shows and the Associated Press. He was also mentioned in USA Today. "But by far, the real highlight was performing it live on the main stage at Austin Aqua Fest with Christine Albert. What a great memory." Tommy is engineer and producer at BYRD HOUSE STUDIO where he's been making recordings for musicians from Texas, Arkansas, Denmark, Germany and beyond.
And then Kathy and Tommy met. That was in 2001 and once again.
That's all it took, that was the start, something new was beating in our hearts "Big Stars in a Little Sky"
Dishes, dishes, they make me sick. I wish I didn't have to do 'em..
One of the first song compositions of 9 year-old Kathy Street, co-written with her 11 year-old sister at home in Mt. Holly, N. J. never made it to any charts. But the joy of creating music has stayed with her.
In college she was lead vocalist in a folk trio in college in Baytown, Texas. And it was there that she first performed in musicals, playing Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady and Adelaide in Guys and Dolls.
After moving to Austin to finish her degree in education at the University of Texas, Kathy began singing with a 5-piece folk-acoustic group called "October" as well as teaching 6th grade. As time passed her focus was devoted to her 3 young children. Kathy, however, found ways to keep the music alive when she rounded up 3 of her 5 siblings to perform as "The Wendel Sisters" at galas, parties, and reunions, both in and out of Austin. Their 4part harmony was perfect for Andrews Sisters' songs and classics from the 60's. Kathy's daughter recalls, "I'll never forget watching them laugh and rehearse. The props, the costumes, and the bugle were as entertaining as the songs!"
At this time, Kathy also devoted 12 years to volunteering as a facilitator for children's grief groups in Austin schools and found time to perform as Elsa, the Baroness in The Sound of Music for Austin's Zach Scott Theater in 1987.
A board member for the Center for Attitudinal Healing in Austin, Kathy was invited to sing at an International Board Meeting. And this in turn led to a performance at the International Conference for Attitudinal Healing hosted by author Jerry Jampolsky in San Francisco. Kathy co-produced, acted and sang in both Broadway Cabaret I and Broadway Cabaret II in 2001 in Austin, and she also performed briefly in a jazz duo, "Scotch Mist." After taking songwriting classes at the University of Texas, Kathy also attended many songwriting workshops where she was referred to Tommy Byrd's studio to record demos of the songs she'd written. When she first heard Tommy's original music, she instinctively sang the perfect harmony part, and the first of their magical music was born.
When not on the stage, Kathy also manages the business side of Byrd and Street. But she still insists:
Dishes, dishes, they make me sick. I wish I didn't have to do 'em.
In addition to her music, Kathy is an artist who paints with oils.
The oil painting featured here is of a black and white cat sitting in the left side of a blue and red boat.