Bend’s Source entertainment magazine has called his music “an eclectic mix of rootsy instrumentation and harmonies that breaths fresh air with wide-reaching inspirations providing a night full of originality and character.” Byer calls his music “contemporary folk.” He plays acoustic guitar and harmonica as well as singing and writing the songs. With hot-licks lead guitar players Hal Worcester and Jamie Morris who both also play bass, and sometimes Ed "the whistler,",and with all singing harmonies, the group is Folk Rock at its rootsy best.
Redmond-based singer/songwriter Byer started writing songs and singing over 25 years ago in Tillamook when he informally managed two garage bands. During the past 17 years he’s performed all over Central Oregon with the Allan Byer Project Band, as a solo artist, or in Duo form with various band members.
Byer also claims to be the "world's second best” musical spoon player behind only his master, Seattle's Artis the Spoonman. Says Byer, “It was how I got into music, playing spoons at the band’s practice sessions. I met Artis in ‘76 at the Pike Street Market in Seattle. He gave me my first musical spoon. I played along with the band. Soon I wanted to play songs by my heroes Jackson Browne and Van Morrison, so I picked up a guitar.”
Byer still counts Browne and Morrison among his heroes but has added Canada's Bruce Cockburn as his current musical hero. Byer’s shows usually are sprinkled with Cockburn covers. Introduced to Bruce as the only Central Oregon artist to play Cockburn songs in local clubs when he met Bruce in July 2002, Bruce told him to “keep playing those songs.” His performance repertoire of over 100 songs now focuses primarily on original tunes. “I just got serious about performing mostly originals during the past ten years as a result of putting them out there at the Café Paradiso’s Open Mic in Bend in the late '90's hosted by The Substitutes. He credits Dean Prescott and Don Hoxie of The Substitutes in helping him bring his music out of the closet. "Those guys took me under their wing. I got to open a few of their shows with my originals and they brought me onstage to play some blues-harp with them,” says Byer.
His songs were featured on the net radio station Positive Music Radio in 2004-05 where he was the station‘s most requested artist. “Never Give Up” was #1 on the station’s charts for eight months... He had seven songs in the station’s Top Ten. That station has been replaced by the all new POZ Radio at www.positivemusicassociation.com. Many of his songs are now on several internet radio stations including mediapositiveradio.com and wholewheatradio.com .
His debut CD “Sometimes It Work” was produced at Mirror Time Records in Prineville and released in Jan. 2000. It features Dean Prescott on lead guitar and harmony vocals. His second CD, “Your Voice,“ was released Jan. 2004 on the Mirror Time Records label and produced at Musi-Tech Studios in Redmond and features a host of Central Oregon‘s finest musicians. His most recent release, "Money Talks Too Much," was produced by Prescott at the Mirror Time Studios in Prineville and features Ed "the whistler" Sharlet. All CD’s can be purchased from Byer directly at his shows or via his website at www.allanbyer.com or on line at cdbaby.com .
In the past few years he has become a promoter as well, bringing Nationally known Artists: Keith Greeninger, Craig Carothers, Laura Kemp, Walker T. Ryan, and John Smith to Central Oregon for shows. He has also hosted and produced a series of Folk Fest Benefits for charities in central Oregon at Bend's 541 Lounge.
He is currently playing a collection of new original songs for his 4th record. The album is partially done produced so far by bandmate Hal Worchester of Bend Records Company. Byer would like to do another record soon after featuring Bruce Cockburn covers, for which he has become known locally.
Since the summer of ’94 Byer has been busy playing regularly all over Central Oregon. Byer has played 75-100 dates per year since 2001. His musical resume includes: many "Concerts on the Green" in Redmond; Sunriver’s “Music in the Village” concert series; Picnic in the Park series in Prineville, the Bend and Redmond Farmer’s Markets, Wild Oats Market concert series, Bend’s Summer and Fall Fests in which he has acted as host of the “Locals Stage,“ Bend’s Winterfest, Bend’s Royal Blend's Concert Series, Cafe Paradiso, Brad's , the Wall Street Cafe, Merenda’s, Kayo’s East, and the Reed Market Pub; Redmond’s Harris Wine Cellars , Madeline‘s , Sweetwaters, the Deschutes County Fair, Sisters Saturday Market and Harvest Fair, Madras’ Collage of Culture and Saturday Markets, the Crook County Fair; Pumpkin Patch (Bend Parks & Rec), Conscious Living Fair (Redmond), Redmond’s former Saturday Market now known as “The Party in the Plaza,” the Deschutes County Library Cafe Libri Concert Series, and the Sisters Folk Festival.
He has also ventured out of Central Oregon to play shows at Eugene’s Café Paradiso, the Eugene Saturday Market, Corvallis’s and Eugene’s Beaneries, Bohemia Mining Days (Cottage Grove), the Douglas County Fair (Roseburg), The Landing (Bay City), Thousand Trail Resorts in Sunriver, Pacific City, and Newport; the Sawdust Jubilee (Riddle), the University of Portland Coffee Clatter Concert Series, and the Schooner Lounge in Netarts.
Byer is an active member and past officer of Central Oregon Songwriters Association winning over 20 COSA song-of-the-month awards plus COSA Folk Song of the year 2001 with “Storm,“ and Unique Song of the year with “Song of the Nations” in 2003. He served as Music Director at Bend’s Community Center in 2002.
Byer has often been the featured artist on Bend’s KLRR 101.7 FM radio show Homegrown since Aug. ‘99. Two of his songs: “Take a Chance” and “Never Give Up,” received regular radio air-play the eight weeks following the first show. “They kept getting requested,” he explains. Those tunes as well as “I Believe” and “Snow on the Mt.” have aired regularly on KLCC’s (88.1 FM Eugene) folk shows and its prestigious “Blues Power” since his first CD release. He has also appeared many times on the popular “Good Morning Central Oregon” TV show hosted by Kristie Miller. Q 104.7 FM in The Dalles has also played his songs on their featured Singer Songwriters Show on Sundays.
Byer is currently an Assessment Specialist in Special Education for Crook County District in Prineville where he sometimes uses music and musical spoons as part of his program for disabled students. He has been a Special Education teacher for 31 years. Byer is happily married (32 years) and has three children and three grandchildren. He is proud to call Central Oregon his home since 1992. He was born in Ontario and spent his high school years in Tillamook. He is a graduate of the University of Portland (1973) and has a Masters in Special Ed. from the University of Oregon (1990).
Byer previously played in Central Oregon in the duo New Dawn with Countrified's bass man Yancy Fall after they collaborated in using music to reach handicapped students in Fall's third grade class at Lynch Elementary School in Redmond in the early '90's.