David Adam Byrnes is no stranger to the stage. That is if you count standing on the fireplace singing to his ninja turtles and Batman toys. His parents took him to Little Rock, Arkansas to see the King of Country, George Strait, at three years old and that made an everlasting impression on him. When David turned five, he started going with his dad and their group to nursing homes. He spent every Monday night until he was 19 and left town singing and playing guitar at the local nursing homes.
During David’s junior year of high school, he started playing bars around Arkansas where he was from. Every Friday night, he strip his football pads and run out of the locker room to make it on time to whatever late night gig he had lined up. He even left halfway through his high school graduation to play Riverfest and open up for Hank Williams Jr.
After high school, David’s parents pushed him towards the college route…which ended up lasting all of half the first semester. In February of 2008, he packed his bags for Nashville prepared to never look back. David moved to a city that was modernizing country music and his traditional ways turned heads pretty quick. He spent his first year at the Broadway scene and credits that to really teaching him HOW to be a musician. You see, many of the musicians he would rubs elbows with at the little bars during the week were the same guys touring with the headlining names on the weekends.
This was where David picked up that he needed to get serious about writing music; it’s something that’s pretty key in Nashville. After a year in Music City, he signed a record deal with Better Angels and that’s when the writing really got serious. Because he took the shift from musician to writer so seriously, he was able to get in the room with some big names. David says, “To me there’s a big difference between putting words to a melody and actually saying something worth hearing. That’s when I learned you have to think out of the box. Every song has a great idea. Be creative with writing and say something differently than how it’s always been said.”
Soon, David had a single out on mainstream radio and very quickly realized he needed to be adept with the business side of things as well. He saw the dark side of the music business and how you can ultimately end up with the short end of the stick if you’re not careful. The record company he was signed with closed their doors but David still had publishing obligations. Basically, he couldn’t sign any new record deals because he was still tied to the original publishing contract that had been sold when the original record label closed down.
David was in a strange in-between stage and he was also an in-between musician and singer. He found that he was too country for a country music genre that was seeming to chase pop. He got to a point where he didn’t like what he was playing, the music he was writing or even the way he was dressing. It finally hit him one day when Daryl Singletary looked him up and down and asked what the heck he was doing. Talk about a swift kick in the rear. Time to get back to the roots.
Since David still couldn’t sign a new deal, he just started touring and working on building his brand. He started realizing that there are still people that like his kind of country music.
One night in Champagne, Illinois, David’s buddy is playing a lot of Texas country and Cody Johnson comes on. David immediately perks up, “Who the heck is that and why can he sing that way and I can’t?”
It was then that he realized his kind of country music WAS still possible.
Around Thanksgiving of 2015, David went to a Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers concert in Nashville. Wade and Randy were joking around on stage about how their “hits” only made it to the 30-somethings on the country charts yet they continued to sell out venue after venue. THAT is what truly opened David’s eyes. He realized he could be himself and not have to be Nashville.
Fast forward a few weeks to the NFR, cowboy hats covered Las Vegas and that reiterated that those kinds of fans are still out there.
David started trying to make connections. His engineer worked with Trent Willmon and Cody Johnson and introduced David to Trent. David’s friendship with Trent grew and they started writing together more and more before Trent later produced a record for David.
During that time, Silverado Records came calling. Unbeknownst to David, this would be another lesson to him.
He continued to work on the record with Trent and says, “I finally got to make a full-blown country record that was my style and how I think country music is supposed to sound.” When the record was finally done and it was time to launch, David started seeing some red flags with the plan surrounding the record’s release.
Trent stepped in and made a call to Cody Johnson to get David to open up for him. In the midst of David’s anger with his now record label, everyone, including Cody, is telling him to move to Texas. In the beginning of 2018, David spent two months opening shows in the Lone Star State. After one last push from Aaron Watson, David went back to Nashville, packed his stuff, and became a permanent Texan in April 2018.
He moved to Granbury and would play at any little bar that allowed live music. David had been writing a lot with Curtis Grimes and called him for advice. “Alright, I’m here, I’m playing anywhere that will let me, now what do I do?” Curtis gave his manager’s information to David and told him he was welcome to any support spot he had available. Now, Curtis’ manager is also David’s manager.
They started working to get the new record off the ground. Not only did they have to work to build momentum for the record, they also had to work against David’s record label. Silverado had basically decided they were going to shelf David and end his career despite his first single, “Beer Bucket List”, flying up the charts to number one. He had finally started to gain momentum and all of a sudden he was paying tons of legal fees and couldn’t put out any new music for eight months straight. Finally, David was freed of a second bad contract and this would be the first time ever that he owned his own music.
It was back to square one with zero momentum. He released “I Can Give You One” and it became his second straight number one single. This was a feat that had never been accomplished – no new artist ever had two right out of the gate. “Neon Town” was about to be released and had a really good shot at being his third number one…and then COVID happens.
This actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. His newest partner, Vexil, reached out and he got to start doing more with Durango boots as well. Facebook Lives and teaming up with radio stations kept him busy. If you can believe it, his numbers actually went up during a time when many were experiencing major downs. As soon as Texas opened back up in May, he hit the ground running touring. People were hungry for music. “Neon Town” was released and became David’s third straight number one single in a row right out of the gate, yet another record accomplishment.
David released his newest record on October 2nd as well as his fourth single, “Old School”. He shot a music video for his newest single and low and behold, CMT picks it up. “For the first time in my career, I’m where I need to be. I put my cowboy hat back on and got to be authentic. That’s the first time I can ever say that. Everything is in God’s time. If anything in my career would’ve taken off sooner than I did, it wouldn’t have all worked. Nashville was my college; I learned how to tour, how to be a writer, and the business side of things with trial and error. Now that I’ve got those things under my belt, I’ll just keep building from here.”
Instagram - @davidadambyrnes
Article by Katie Armstrong @thekatielynn