New Allan Byer Project Band takes rootMay, 12 2015
Allan's new version of the Allan Byer Project Band has taken shape over the past several months. the band now features Rosemarie Witnaur sharing vocals with Allan and adding Bella Flek type licks on her banjo. Jimmy Jo McKue has also joined the mix on lead electric and acoustic guitars and harmony vocals. This Americana Trio, as Byer now refers to it, has been playing shows together during the past six months. It came together with some loose jams last summer at the Pig N Pound in Redmond at some Byer solo shows when he invited his guests to sit in.
Veteran bassist, guitarist, and vocalist Hal Worcester is still part of this mix when the venues allow for a larger group or when he plays in Duo format with Allan. Santiago Casinova also joins the group on cohan percussion at gigs for larger venues and festivals. Byer hopes to record his next album with this group of musicians in the months ahead. He has songs enough for a 4th record, most have been in play list several years at this point.
Be Positive Day founder Harold review cdMarch, 7 2008
"Money Talks Too Much" is a CD with a positive and powerful message.
I do like the song, "Money Talks Too Much," as well as "Questions for God," "Dad I Never Had," and "Find A Clue." Allan writes and performs music that makes a person think and that is a good thing. We need more musicians like Allan in our world who write and sing music that causes us to take pause and reflect on our values and beliefs and to make any changes necessary to become better people. To learn more about Allan and his music or to order his CD visit his website at Allan Byer.
If you have a positive quote, thought, song, photo, or anything you would like to share with me and my growing audience, please E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call me at (570) 341-6796. I would be delighted to speak with you personally.
Byer Keeps Moving in Local Folk SceneDecember, 7 2007
Allan Byer keeps moving in the region's folk scene
By Ben Salmon Bend Bulletin 12/07/07
Whenever venerable Central Oregon singer-songwriter Allan Byer plays at WineStyles in Redmond (see "If You Go"), he wears many hats. Literally.
There's the cowboy hat for Byer's country-ish numbers (like "Pilgrim" and "Storm," radio hits in The Dalles and Eugene, respectively), a wizard hat for his spiritually focused songs, a Redmond baseball cap for Byer's "everyman" tunes such as "Money Talks Too Much," and a tam o'shanter for the Celtic-flavored pieces in his vast repertoire.
"Sometimes I even wear as many hats as possible and shake them off during the song 'Sub-Personality Blues' trying to . illustrate the many hats we wear in life," Byer says.
He should know about the figurative wearing of hats, too. Byer is a master promoter and gig-getter, always busy playing his wide-ranging, working-class folk music anywhere in Central Oregon with space for a stool. He's also the man behind the live music at Bend's farmers' markets and helped launch Prineville's Ochoco Nights concert series last year.
Byer has produced a handful of concerts in the region, including a couple of folk mini-festivals at 541 Lounge in Bend to benefit good causes. And he's had a hand in various festivals, celebrations and other special events over the past several years. Basically, if you went somewhere and there was a folkie performing, chances are decent that Byer was involved.
All this on top of his day job as a special education teacher at Crook County Middle School, where he teaches learning-disabled kids not only to read and write, but also to make music.
Behind the Scenes - Market MusicJune, 8 2007
Behind The Scenes
By Ben Salmon
The Bulletin 6/08/07
Dean Prescott knows a little
something about playing
As a founding member of one
of Central Oregon's longest-standing
bar bands, The Substitutes,
Prescott has spent the last 10
years gigging in taverns from Madras
to La Pine, where he's caught
some ears, but he's also been ignored
by plenty of folks.
Such is the plight of a bar band.
Prescott wrote a song about it in
2001, called "Wallpaper Music":
"Sing for your supper, we need
you around/ We may not hear
you, but we still like the sound.
The sound is the thing, see, and
nowhere is that more evident than
at Bend's two farmers markets,
which start this week (see "If You
Go"). About a dozen area singersongwriters
- including Prescott
- are playing at the markets this
summer, supplementing the feeling
of buying good food from
friendly people under a warm sun
with the vibrancy of live music.
This is the third year that live
musicians will play the market,
and their music is anything but an
afterthought, said market Manager
"We decided as a market, let's
support local musicians by bringing
them in and paying them and
letting them show their talent,"
Wiest said. "It's just taken off."
Booking is handled by Prineville
resident and longtime local
musician Allan Byer, who also
will play a few times throughout
the summer. The experience
leaves the folk singer in Byer
nostalgic for simpler times.
"I love playing the market because
it takes me back to when I
began playing music, which was
in the streets and coffee shops
of Eugene and Portland in the
late '70s," he said. "It is free flowing
with a crowd, a chance to really
connect with someone and
change their outlook for the better,
or to simply make a human
connection between souls."
It's that connection that prompted
Wiest to lobby the market's
board of directors to begin paying
the musicians a couple years ago,
she said. It's a nominal rate, but
it's the least market officials can
do in return for such an important
part of their customers' experience,
"It's the ambience. It's so wonderful
to have the music flowing
throughout the market, and it just
adds that extra piece," Wiest said.
"I always look at it as (supporting)
wellness. Music is wellness and
healing, and here we are supporting
it by offering great food and
produce, and we just needed those
two things together."
Having live music at the market
benefits everyone involved, she
said. Customers are entertained,
musicians earn a little extra exposure
(and maybe tip money, too),
and market vendors benefit from
the foot traffic generated by the
sound of the guitar and voice. The
musicians are positioned near
passing crowds for just that reason,
"We get that audience that
comes in to see them," Wiest said.
"People just sit down in the middle
of the market and talk and listen
and kids dance . you can see that
it's a very positive experience."
Does that mean everyone who
passes by stops to listen? No. But
Byer says that's no big deal, and
that the musicians are happy to be
the soundtrack to a leisurely day
"We are glorified background
music, and that's OK," he said.
"We add to the organic and natural
ambience much more than a
CD player ever could.
"(There's) nothing like the
sound of a nicely played acoustic
guitar and a human voice on
pitch at an outdoor event. It's as
natural sounding as the food is
real. Somehow it just goes together,"
Byer continued. "Add in
some sunshine and blue skies, the
backdrop of the river when we're
in Drake Park, and it is a pretty
Indeed, the players love it, too.
Blaine Cameron, of Bend, has
been playing the market for three
years; he even wanders around
during his breaks, notes some of
the vendors' names, and plugs
them between songs of his set.
"I see that as part of the job," he
said. "You're there to talk up the
farmers market. You want people
to come back."
The market is a great place to
introduce new material into a live
setting, Cameron said, because of
the informal nature of the transient
audience. And when a group
builds around the artist, that's a
bonus, he said.
"It's always a kick when the
kids come by and they'll listen
to you, or parents will grab some
lunch and sit there, and pretty
soon you'll have a little gathering
- 10, 15, 20 people sitting
around listening to your music,"
"It's something I look forward
too every summer because it gives
me a chance to share my art."
Prescott, the composer of
"Wall Paper Music," cited the
happy atmosphere of the market
as a welcome change from the
bars and restaurants he normally
plays (though he enjoys those
"The thing that's neat about
it for the people is they're not
stuck there. If they want to listen
for a while, they can, and if
they don't, they don't have to,"
he said. "And you can reach
a lot of people far away. They
hear you, and they'll walk over
to get a better listen. If you're
in a club or something, you're
confined by those four walls.
"It kind of takes you back in
time a little bit, playing outside
at a market," Prescott said. "It's
a really great atmosphere."
A great atmosphere. That pretty
much sums up what Wiest wanted
when she started looking for a
way to incorporate live music into
the market three years ago. Now,
she sees the whole package as a
refuge from the hustle and bustle
of life on the outside.
"(Music provides) a smooth ambience
at the market that people
notice when they come in. You see
a different mood come over them,"
she said. "It's a little slower pace."
Sense of urgency inspires local singer-songwriter Allen ByerJanuary, 11 2006
Jan 11, 2006 by Caryn May The Redmond Current
Long-time Redmond resident and singer-songwriter, Allan Byer recently released a third CD called Money Talks Too Much which boasts 17 cuts.
“This summer, I felt an urgency to record all the old songs,” he said of his inspiration to put the album together.
Urgency? “Yes,” he said. “It has to do with the ‘chicken incident.’”
The “chicken incident”?
“This summer, we were raising these wonderful hens which we cared for like pets. They’d sit on my daughter Halla’s shoulder and we had become attached to them,” Byer recounted.
“A neighbor’s dog got into the coup early one morning and killed all but one of them.”
The family endured a keen sense of loss and helplessness as a result. Byer had put a great deal of effort into making the coup a secure environment. He came away from the tragedy with the larger realization that, “no matter how much you love and care for someone, you can’t always protect them.”
Cut five on the new CD, “Girl Hold Me Tight,” he said, expresses the importance of the support of others in our lives and that life is fragile, we never really know what’s coming next.
Byer’s previous CD, Your Voice, “was more a professional production,” he said. “We made the new album very simply, basically on a home system.”
That’s the way he wanted it, he said. “There are seven new songs and nine older ones, never recorded. With new arrangements we found new songs in some of the old ones, like cut 17, ‘It’s the Law,’” he said.
All but one song on Money Talks Too Much are written by Byer. Arrangements are by Byer and Dean Prescott. The album was produced, recorded and mixed at Prescott’s Mirror Time Studios in Prineville during July and August, 2005. Local musician, Matt Engle mastered the CD at musi-Tech Studios in Redmond.
The assistance of musical friends and family deepen the color and spirit of the album. Byer’s daughter, Halla sings harmony, Ed Sharlet sings harmony and whistles, Dean Prescott lends guitars, banjo, harmony vocals and percussion. Kim Lakehomer adds flute and penny whistles and Matt Engle comes in with lead guitar on “Falling Down.”
Currently, Byer has been appearing on Wednesday evenings, often with Ed “the whistler” Sharlet at the Old Redmond Depot opened recently by J.C. Puleo who has an interest in showcasing local talent in the restaurant. “We’ve had some killer nights at the Depot,” said Byer.
Fans can catch Byer in Bend on Saturdays at Caffé Bellisimo in Bend.
On February 16, he’ll play with Ed Sharlet at the Café Libri series of music evenings that take place at the Redmond Public Library.
Byer says he regrets that there is a perception, sometimes, that if you’re “local” you’re not any good. During the summer of 2006 Byer will act as the music director for a new local music show called the “Spirit of the West” to be held in Prineville. He’s looking forward to providing the opportunity to showcase local musicians. He’ll also MC the show.
“One of the reasons I do music is that I get more pleasure out of it than anything else I do,” Byer said.
A Return to American Roots - Local Teacher Releases Third CDNovember, 25 2005
by Shelby Case of the Central Oregonian 11/25/2005
Allan Byer took an aptitude test in elementary school after playing a tonette, and according to the music test results, he had no talent for music.
"I never went out for choir," Byer said of his high school days. "I never went out for band."
But now, the Crook County Middle School teacher has proven his early detractors wrong - releasing his third compact disc "Money Talks Too Much."
Byer, who teaches special education, said "Money Talks Too Much" is a return to roots and is all acoustic.
"I wanted to do a simple album that was more like I sound live," he said. "I wanted to keep it simple and get it done.
The CD was produced this past summer. Dean Prescott, who lives in Prineville, plays guitar and percussion on the CD. Mirror Time Records was the production studio. Ed "The Whistler" Sharlet sings and whistles in the background and Kim Lakehomer plays flute and penny whistle on five songs. A particularly proud moment for Byer was when his daughter Halla sings two songs. Matt Engle plays lead guitar on "Falling Down."
"I think it's Americana roots musically," Byer said. "The instrumentation is simple. Acoustic guitar, and percussion is tablas and hand drums."
In high school, he played a rock star in a musical comedy called "The Apple Tree" and tried acting in college at the University of Portland, playing the lead buffoon in Moliere's "Tartuffe."
Slowly, but steadily, Byer became more interested in music, and later met Artis the Spoon Man at Pike Street Market in Seattle. That was an epiphany for him. Byer did his first professional show in 1977 in Eugene but didn't play professionally for another 15 years.
"But I could never really get it out of my system," he said.
Byer said he has been a serious musician for the last 11 years. He started playing in 1994 with a band member, Yancey Fall, from Countryfied.
From 1983 until 1991, he also worked in alternative educational settings and in treatment centers, working closely with at-risk youth in Eugene and with the Yupik Eskimos in Alaska.
"I was playing music and I was using music to reach my kids in the classroom," Byer said.
Byer's first CD was "Sometimes It Works" and was released in January 2000.
"I've sold more of these than the new ones actually, which is not a million, but it's better than a stick in the eye," he said, grinning.
He followed that up with "Your Voice," which was recorded at Musi-Tech Studios in Redmond with Engle.
Byer has another project in the works and is collaborating with his electric trio on it. He wants to make a CD of the best of the three albums, including 12 of about 40 previously recorded songs. The others who will perform with him are bassist Hal Worcestor and guitarist Jamie Morris. Byer has told Los Angeles friend, drummer Kevin Michaels, of the latest CD, who has discussed it with several recording companies. Michaels has performed with Bonnie Raitt and Keb Mo, among others.
You can purchase copies of "Money Talks Too Much" at various locations, including "http://www.allanbyer.com" and cdbaby.com/cd/allanbyer.
The public can hear music from the latest cd at Cafe Bellisimo, 450 SW Powerhouse Drive in Bend, for about a month. He will also play the next few Wednesdays from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the old Redmond depot by Wal-Mart. On Dec. 9, there will also be a cd release party at Santiago's, 528 SW 6th St. in Redmond, from 6 to 9 p.m. He also will have a show on "Good Morning Central Oregon" at 7:20 a.m., also on Dec. 9. "Good Morning Central Oregon" can be reached on Channel 11 via Bend Broadband and is on COTV.
Completing the PortraitOctober, 31 2005Allan Byer's Money Talks Too Much
By Jeff Trainor of the Source 10/31/2005
Redmond singer-songwriter Allan Byer's third and latest album of songs, Money Talks Too Much, makes another snapshot of his progress as a writer, instrumentalist and recording artist available to the record-playing public. According to the liner notes, it also completes a larger portrait, reaching the goal of getting most of the songs Byer has written on disc. Sixteen of the seventeen tracks are new or previously unrecorded, and one ("It's the Law") revisits a song from his 2000 debut release.
Byer turned to Dean Prescott's Mirror Time Studios in Prineville for his third crack at a full-length recording. The resultant sound is strikingly clear and sophisticated when compared with Your Voice, Byer's 2003 LP.
The folksy instrumentation on Money Talks also steps things up a bit from previous efforts, with Prescott stepping in as lead guitarist, percussionist and producer. A handful of other locals add backing vocals, flutes, penny whistles, and...ahem...whistling (put-your-lips-together-and-blow style, that is).
Prescott's diverse approach to percussion, his tasteful sprinkling of echo and distortion over some of Byer's vocals, and his precision with his guitars do much to help keep things engaging through the record's 71 minutes.
For his part, Byer plays rhythm guitars and sings the lead throughout. His familiar, smoky-smooth voice is best highlighted on "It's Love," a guitar-and-voice tune that, on top of its instrumental simplicity, comes in as the album's shortest at just over two minutes.
Songs like "Falling Down," an examination of inner demons, and "Dad I Never Had," which dives into Byer's painful early family history, cut deeper in terms of subject matter. Those two provide the album's most touching moments.
Byer's lyrics, usually interesting, wander occasionally into the realm of verse bending to the cliché-wielding will of rhyme--take this line in "Questions For God," for example: "It takes you / it takes me / it takes us all together / then maybe we'll see / what the world can be."
Byer's songs are most fascinating overall when he's in a gospel mode, as in "I Believe" and "Father Make Me." Toe-tapping entertainment value jumps higher, however, with songs like "Food on the Run," where Byer avoids taking himself too seriously with lines like, "Living on Vitamin C, beer and potato chips / while a TV talk show host talks of leaving earth via spaceships," or the title track, wherein economic injustice undergoes a frank, though easygoing, assault. "Attitude" is a gentle kick, though it might best fill a kids' music niche with its simplistically groovy case for politeness.
There's so much material on Money Talks Too Much, Byer can't help but hit the sweet spot here and there. If we're lucky, he'll retire from his day job as a schoolteacher soon and fine-tune his artistic focus. Then, he'll surely turn out nothing but gems.
Your Voice Review in SourceMarch, 4 2004
Mirror Time Productions in The Source, March 4, 2004
Allan Byer is a positive guy. This is never more evident than in his
latest album, Your Voice. The Central Oregon singer-songwriter’s second
album is an upbeat, heartfelt amalgamation of folk, folk-rock, and
Byer’s lyrics express his general sense of appreciation for the world
around him and the path he is on. In “Storm,” he sings “You might think
that I might panic as I watch the storm in silence/but inside my heart
beats stronger./In the storm, I hear a song/...Let it rain. Let it
The last song on the album perhaps alludes to the source of his
“The Bottle and Me” is a wry reminiscence of a battle with
alcoholism and how trust in a higher power helped overcome dependence.
Byer is helped on this album by the talents of several local musicians.
Matt Engle plays lead and rhythm guitar, harmonica, and bass; Kevin
Lewis plays drums and percussion; Dr. Marc Sackman plays flute and sax;
Steve Kulin chants, as well as playing piano, synth, and percussion;
Ethan Allan King plays penny whistle, electric guitar, and provides
support with harmony vocals; Christen Hawkins also sings harmony vocals.
Byer normally plays solo or with his band, which includes Dr. Marc
Sackman and Hal Worcester. The variety of instrumentation that appears
on the album rounds out his normally pared down sound.
Your Voice is a great second effort for one of Central Oregon’s hardest
working musicians. (Tanya Ignacio)
A Soul-Searching Redmond SpokesmanFebruary, 18 2004
Redmond musician Alan Byer, in his early 50s, is still a long way from senior citizen discounts but pokes fun at himself for being a late bloomer. “I was in my late 40s before I got serious about music,” Byer said. “Usually people do it much younger. At the same time I think it’s a strength because people say, how do you play guitar like that? I don’t know, I’ve played badly so long, it’s become my own unique style.”
On Friday, Byer will release his second CD, “Your Voice,” and celebrate the occasion with a concert at the Bend Community Center.
His new album was featured on the Homegrown Music Showcase Sunday on KLRR radio, and on Friday, he will make his seventh guest appearance on COTV’s Good Morning Central Oregon show. He performed several times at the recent Winter Fest in Bend and is a regular in the Royal Blend Concert Series in downtown Bend.
Byer either wrote or co-wrote all but one of the 12 songs on the album. His lyrics reveal a straightforward honesty and a glimpse into his own personal experiences. He says the album itself can be interpreted at different levels. The title song, “Your Voice,” has a subtle, spiritual message, Byer said. “If you just hear it for the first time, you’d probably think it’s a love song. But in reality, it’s a song about a higher power ... kind of a declaration of my own faith at this point in time.”
When Byer’s 13-year-old daughter, Halla, wrote a poem about a Central Oregon thunderstorm, it sparked his interest and together they transformed it into the song, “Storm.” The last song on the album, “The Bottle and Me,” humbly exposes Byer’s own battle with alcoholism. Getting sober, Byer says, was a turning point in his life. “When I look back at my life, there’s this marker and it all lines up from there. Things have gotten so much better in my life since I took that step of getting sober and staying sober.” There was a focus to his music after that, Byer said. “It’s the clearing out that recovery brings to your mind, instead of everything being a collage of possibilities.” Byer said he has been sober for about seven years. He is aware that the subject of addiction can be a sensitive issue, but points to big name entertainers such as Bonnie Raitt, John Hyatt and Eric Clapton, who have gone public with their own recovery. “There are role models in the entertainment business that have broken that stigma.”
Byer credits local musicians Dean Prescott and Don Hoxie of The Substitutes, for helping jump start his music career. “They encouraged me to play my original music. In fact, they asked me to open a couple of their shows and took me under their wing. That’s how I got into the professional end.” Marc “Doc” Sackman, who holds a doctorate degree in classical flute performance, accompanied Byer in over half the songs on the album. “He gives me creditability,” Byer joked. Sackman was band director for Central Oregon Community College and was laid off last year due to budget cuts. He hopes to get back into conducting part time and continue working with Byer full time. Sackman will play the flute on Byer’s third album, which should be released this summer.
It took two years to finish recording “Your Voice,” mostly due to practical reasons, like money and balancing family and career. “It was like a weekend remodel project that someone might start,” said Byer. By day,
Byer is a special education teacher for the Crook County School District. When he retires five years down the road, however, he plans to make music his full time job. “We have some big aspirations,” Byer said while pondering the future. Byer and fellow album collaborators are working on a distribution contract with True North Records out of Toronto, Canada. The company distributes albums worldwide for independent artists, Byer said. “We would be looking at a potential world wide audience,” said Byer. “That’s something that would put us over the top. And I could say, now we made it.”
`Your Voice` sells for $15 at shows and http://www.cdbaby.com/allanjbyer
By Tara LaVelle, Redmond Spokesman
Your Voice - Allan's Second AlbumFebruary, 17 2004
"Compact disc" just doesn't seem to cut it when describing singer-songwriter Allan Byer's new release, "Your Voice". The disc itself is small, true enough, but in terms of the 12 songs' themes--not to mention Byer's two-year effort to get the album made--there's nothing little about the scope of "Your Voice," being celebrated with two release parties next weekend.
As he was preparing to play a January DiLusso Coffee, Bakery & Cafe date with his trio, The Bulletin sat down with Byer, 53, to discuss the album, its two-year genesis and the meaning behind the songs.
"I would hope listeners would listen with ears that are like fertile ground", Byer said. "Let the songs fall on your ears -- there we go, I got a metaphor going-- let the songs fall on your ears like they're fertile ground, and see if something grows."
Among his favorites on "Your Voice" is "Storm," co-written by Halla Byer, one of his three children.
"And we need to make not of the 'The Bottle and Me,' Byer said. "It's a song about alcoholism, and I'm in recovery. I've been sober for nearly seven years. Six and a half years; let's be totally honest."
'Totally honest` is an apt phrase for the material on `Your Voice.`
Not surprisingly, Byer's song output increased concurrent with his sobriety. `That summer is when I got sober,` said Byer. `At the same time, I started to play more music. There's a direct correlation, for me, between success and recovery. I had dabbled around in music for 20 years, but I had never really done much. Two years' sober and I had my first album done; three years sober, yeah.` `I quit dancing around doing cover music,` Byer said. `We still do covers by our favorites … Bruce Cockburn, Van Morrison … but we play 90 percent original music.`
While at a glance it could seem that Byer's songs are all over the map thematically, the consistency of the material on `Your Voice,` and Byer's seasoned voice, brings it all together. `We're hoping that people will find some meaning in the songs,` Byer said. `They really range from songs about love, spiritual search (to) just observing nature.` There's a Native American tribute, `Song of the Nations,` replete with chanting. `'Your Voice,' the title cut, sounds like a love song, but it's about a higher power,` said Byer. Another track, `Pilgrim,` is about `being on the search,` Byer said. `Soul Song` is an uptempo song about the soul trying to communicate with the personality, Byer said. It could be a forgotten Doors' song both in sound and its mystical leanings.
It's been four years, almost to the month, since Byer put out his first disc, `Sometimes It Works.``Your Voice` was two years in the making, and Byer already has plans to release an acoustic album this summer. Byer is happy to share the spotlight with his collaborators. For the last year, most of his performing has been in the form as a duo with flutist Marc `Doc` Sackman, erstwhile music instructor at Central Oregon Community College who now lives in Portland; and as a trio, incorporating bassist Hal Worcester (pronounced Wooster`) along with Sackman.
On the disc, bass duties were handled by Matt Engle, who also played lead and rhythm guitars, harmonica and recorded the disc at his Redmond studio. Other contributors were Steve Kulin on piano, synthesizers and providing chants, and drummer Kevin Lewis. Harmonies are provided by Christen Hawkins and Ethan Allan King, the latter of whom also played mandolin and electric guitars on the album.
By day, Byer is a special ed instructor at Crook County Middle School. He began teaching in 1980, and earned his masters in special ed in 1990. He's lived in Central Oregon 11 years. Byer hopes to take music full-time when he retires from teaching in about five years. `I hope I'll still be young enough, and have energy enough, to want to travel around the country and do music,`
Byer said. Age, a major issue in the world of pop music, is less of a concern to artists working in the blues and folk traditions, said Byer. `I know my music has grown, and I think you can hear it on the album,` Byer said. Bandmate Marc Sackman agrees. `There are an awful lot of older artists,` Sackman said. `Especially for this type of music. He's not a rap star. We've got some college students who show up at almost all of our gigs. So young people dig it, and older folks are comfortable with it as well.` With Sackman setting up shows in Portland, the two hope to get Byer's music more exposure in the Northwest.
Primarily paid for through Byer's music earnings, `Your Voice` got the financial kick it needed from an investment by Sackman, using money from the sale of his Bend home. `It's a glorified hobby, but with this album, we're trying to be more serious about it,` Byer said. `I've written it off as a business the last five years, and I have made a little money, but usually I take a loss. And I will again this (fiscal) year. But 2004 is the year where we hope we finally turn a profit on it.`
`Your Voice` sells for $15 at shows and "http://www.cdbaby.com/allanjbyer" David Jasper can be reached at 541-383-0349 or "mailto:email@example.com".
-By David Jasper
Teacher's Note is Musical - Bend BulletinJanuary, 27 2000
This Teacher’s Note is Musical by Andy Whipple of the Bulletin Jan. 2000 He likes Bruce Cockburn, a
guitar virtuoso and songwriter from Canada.
But with a CD title as sublimely ambiguous
as "Sometimes It Works," Allan Byer reflects
a broader background. More miles on life's
highway, more of its dead ends and
disappointments, and a less evangelical
handle on navigation. Byer has been a teacher, and a
singer-songwriter, for 20 years. He has
lived in Central Oregon since 1993, and
spent a decade in Eugene.
His day job:
special education at Hugh Hartman Middle
School in Redmond. Evenings and weekends:
wife and three children. You don't need to be a parent or even
a teacher (and fortunately not both) to get
a sense of the amount of `free` time
parceled out by such commitments. It's
hardly surprising that `Sometimes It Works`
is Byer's very first CD. And when he says he
has enough material in the can for another,
you get a sense of what makes some
49-year-old guys look and act younger than
others. When Byer's CD makes it to the music
shops, it'll be one of the very few that was
recorded in Prineville (at Dean Prescott's)
and remastered in Redmond (at Matt Engle's).
A fine example of acting locally and
thinking globally. Well, nationally. If Byer makes good, the first local boy
he will acknowledge will be Prescott, who
played major roles as a musician and
teacher/motivator before serving as audio
engineer. Prescott adds harmony vocals and
lead guitar, in the studio and in the
spotlights at Cafe Paradiso. Three and a
half years ago, Prescott and Don Hoxie
launched a weekly open mike, and the
Thursday smorgasbord has survived and even
prospered. Performances range from
ready-for-the-city to painfully excessive
navel-gazing, but it's a pure and rarely
seen form of democracy. `The cafe,` Byer says, `has been my
school of music. I had put it aside when I
stumbled in there in '97.` He's become a
regular item on Paradiso's musical menu, and
Prescott often reserves the last 15-minute
set for him. Byer will perform at the cafe
on Feb. 12 as part of the Central Oregon
Songwriters Association annual gala. COSA
has been good to Byer as well: In three
years of membership, he's received major
support … winning several song-of-the-month
awards … while providing a good example for
his younger counterparts. Ask Byer which singer-songwriters
served as examples for him, and he'll start
with Cockburn. Next come Jackson Browne and
Van Morrison. But Byer returns to Cockburn,
whom he calls `my musical hero.` In
particular, a 1984 tune called `Making
li So many ways to understand one for every woman and man been that way since the world began ... I feel so huge … I feel so small I feel so good I want to swallow it all
… ... making contact swimming in an ocean of love making contact ...
lf A woman's love, a higher love,
physical and spiritual fulfillment: Cockburn
touches all the bases, albeit somewhat
choppily. In the title cut of his CD, Byer tackles
the same issues and adds a quiet, deeply
li I let that higher power move in me I find that ocean not too hard to sail Everyone's at home there, everyone gets
to get well Sometimes it works, sometimes it won't; sometimes I do, darlin,' sometimes I
don't. It's a choice that we make It's a chance we all get to take Sometimes it works ...
lf By losing the gloomy refrain
"sometimes it don't" in the final chorus,
Byer shows his best stuff as a songwriter.
After hearing the phrase four or five times,
listeners expect that negative note at the
end. Instead, Byer delivers a pleasant
surprise. It's a declaration of faith and
self-confidence, proving up on the
optimistic claim staked out in the title.