Press shot from 2021 of Texas country star David Adam Byrnes
Courtesy of RPR Media

David Adam Byrnes Needed a New Lease on His Career. He Found It on Texas Country Radio

Since the 2019 release of "Beer Bucket List," David Adam Byrnes has broken new ground on the Texas Regional Radio chart. His debut single as a Texas artist began a run of seven straight No. 1 hits and counting— a first-time feat for a solo act in the chart's 18-year history. In the process, the traditional country singer and songwriter found the right scene as an artist after a much less successful stay in Nashville.

Byrne moved to Middle Tennessee at 19 years old with dreams of becoming a throwback country superstar in the same mold as George Strait, Tracy Lawrence and other fixtures of '90s radio. Ultimately, the Little Rock, Ark. native felt out of place in a town that'd deemed him "too country."

"I did sell out for a little while," Byrnes told Wide Open Country. "I lost my first record deal, and even in that, there were some songs that I didn't care for. I really was chasing and chasing and chasing. If I'm going to be completely honest with you, I ran into Daryle Singletary. He looked me up and down and said, 'What in the hell are you doing?' That's the moment that I went, 'Okay, I think we're caving into the industry just a little too far.'"

A new musical discovery pointed Byrnes to a scene of honky tonks and radio stations more suited to his sound.

"That's when I heard Cody Johnson," he said. "My exact words out of my mouth when I heard him was: 'Who in the hell is this, and where is he doing the kind of country I'm told nobody wants to hear because this dude is popping up and killing it. That's exactly what I want to be doing.'"

Though the Texas scene historically embraces out-of-staters (Jerry Jeff Walker was a New Yorker, after all), Byrnes initially felt like a fish out of water.

"I was an Arkansas guy that went to Nashville and then came to Texas, so I didn't have all the years of learning the scene and being in the scene," he said. "We needed something to get us in and then make some noise immediately. Going to Texas radio gave us that chance to do so. We went from an act nobody had ever heard of to having chart success on your very first single to where we were able to book and start headlining and start getting big opening slots pretty quickly."

The creative approach that's landed Byrnes in the same conversation as Johnson, Aaron Watson, Wade Bowen and other kindred spirits isn't about gatekeeping the genre. It's simply about an artist positioning himself to share the songs in his heart with a captive audience.

"I've had to learn over the years that it's not a battle of 'real country,'" Byrnes said. "It's just I'd like to think that I put out the kind of music I'd want to sit down and listen to. If I want to sit down and listen to it, there's got to be more people that want to, as well."

There's multiple Texas charts that elevate artists less likely to be on Nashville's radar— even if Johnson and Parker McCollum's recent success represents a new trend in Music City.

"Unlike the mainstream radio world, they really give a chance to the new acts that come up through the scene," Byrnes added.

Through that exposure, Byrnes has landed on curated Spotify playlists and enjoyed an even higher profile in his home state, where he's the Arkansas Country Music Awards' reigning Entertainer of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year.

"I remember that very first time I went to the Texas Country Music Awards," he shared. "I was walking up and introducing myself and having to explain who I was. You come back a year or two or three years later, and all of a sudden, everyone knows who you are. They're coming running to you to say hi. It's just been cool to watch the growth from it and see Texas bring in an outsider and treat me like one of their own."

Byrnes hopes to continue his hot streak when he follows up 2020's Neon Town with new album Keep Up With a Cowgirl (out Sept. 30). A music video for the title track was made in conjunction with Durango Boots and celebrates real-life cowgirls.

"It's been a pleasure working with David Adam Byrnes as one of Durango Boot's country music ambassadors, especially on his new music video 'Keep Up With A Cowgirl,'" shared Durango Boots Marketing Manager Erin DeLong in a press release. "Spotlighting the strong, independent women in the western industry has been a focal point for the Durango brand and David's music video does just that."

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