Reviews: Where the Road Bends
By Bob Leggett
March 27, 2010
The Fallen Stars are much more than just music to the ears – they are an experience and a feast to the senses. Combining elements of country rock, blues and Americana into their music, their true talent lies in their ability to create an atmosphere of fun for their audience. Led by the raw sounds of Bobbo Byrnes on guitar, lead and backing vocals and his wife Tracy on bass, lead and backing vocals, The Fallen Stars took the stage by storm and the audience captive. Coupled with support from drummer Gary O’Yeah, guitarist Gregg Braught and keyboardist Geoff Geid, The Fallen Stars demonstrated why they are considered by The Orange County Register to be one of the rising stars in Americana music today. Whether lamenting over their welfare Cadillac, the loss of jobs in smalltown America or improvising a cover tune, The Fallen Stars bring energy to the stage and propel that energy out into the crowd. The crowd in turn hurls it right back at them, and the cycle continues until the end of the set, leaving both the band and the audience spent.
Bobbo is an Energizer bunny of sorts, running all over the stage, interacting with both the audience and his bandmates. Tracy’s steady bass and Gregg’s lead guitar set the pace – and believe me the pace never stops!
The Fallen Stars are a treat that should be devoured more than savored, and always leave you wanting more. Don’t miss out on your chance to participate in their show – you will not regret a single moment spent with them and their music.
For more info on The Fallen Stars, you can check out the band’s official website at www.thefallenstars.com.
The Huntington Beach Independent
Two local bands win big at awards
By Paul Anderson
April 09, 2009
Huntington Beach was well represented among the winners in the annual Orange County Music Awards this week, but the story belonged to local bands Venus Infers, who picked up three Orange County Music Awards, and the Fallen Stars, who scored one there and then also later won Best Live Electric Band and Best Live Acoustic Band in the SoCal Music Live competition.
“It’s an incredibly rewarding feeling to get recognized for doing what you love,” Fallen Stars singer/guitarist Bobbo Byrnes said. “We are so grateful and honored.” He added the pressure is on the band to put on a good show every night now that they’ve won awards for their live performances.
Huntington Beach’s TSOL won the Best Punk award at Saturday’s Orange County Music Awards and the Fallen Stars scored top prize for Best Country/Americana.
Venus Infers won for Best Alternative, Best Indie and the Album of the Year with “The Truth About Venus Infers.”
Saturday’s awards ceremony was at the Grove of Anaheim.
The Orange County Register
By Kelli Skye Fadroski
March 5, 2009
Bobbo Byrnes was thrilled when he got the call last week that his band, the Fallen Stars was nominated for three Orange County Music Awards. OK, so it's not the Grammys, but the alternative country quintet from Huntington Beach is honored to be nominated nonetheless.
The group is up for the best album award for its 2008 release "Where the Road Bends," best song for "St. George's Bank," and best country/Americana group at the 2009 OCMAs at the Grove of Anaheim on April 4. It's quite an accomplishment, as a group is the only one within its genre that was able to beat out a slew of rock and indie bands to be nominated in the top two award categories.
Though they're no stranger to awards (Fallen Stars won best live acoustic band at last year's OCMAs) the moderate success isn't going to their heads.
"We've been nominated a handful of times in the past, we've won before, now we're up for three awards and I have absolutely no complaints," Byrnes says.
In 2000, Byrnes, along with his wife Tracy, moved to Orange County from Boston. With the desire for a change of scenery following the tragic and sudden deaths of two loved ones, the Byrnes' decided to hop in the car and head as far west as they could, eventually landing in Huntington Beach.
The duo had always been involved in music. Once settled in their new home, the Byrnes' decided to regroup, start up a band and find quality musicians to play with. The name, the Fallen Stars, came from a song Bobbo wrote called "Find Some Light," in which he sings "I'm just a fallen star that never shown, did you never see the flames that I had thrown."
With Bobbo taking over guitar and vocal duties and Tracy on bass, the line-up was completed with the additions of lead guitarist Gregg Braught, drummer Brian Matteson and keyboardist and mandolin player Geoff Geib.
Music is a true labor of love for this band. Since there's no high-dollar record contract, the group has contributed a lot of their own funds into the project, but they remain hopeful that one day it will all pay off.
"We've had some benevolent people who have donated money and friends and family who have contributed, but we've all had to dip into our own savings as well," Byrnes says.
The Fallen Stars have been hard at work for the last year. They released their fifth album, "Where the Road Bends" in May and embarked on their LA La Tour in October that had the band playing various cities from Los Angeles to Louisiana.
"The final show on that tour was in Costa Mesa at the Orange County Democrats election night party," Byrnes says. "I heard a rumor that we were on CNN that night briefly but I didn't ever see it."
Currently working on a sixth album, which is scheduled to be out in a couple of months, Byrnes says the tracks are sticking to the storytelling style the group is known for, but the content is definitely more positive than it has been in the past. Songs on "Found and Lost," the bands 2004 release, came from watching everyone they knew who had gotten married, suddenly getting divorced.
"It was kind of a breaking up album and after we finished that we didn't want to write anymore songs about that," he says. "On 'Where the Road Bends' and with the new stuff, we just tried to focus more on looking forward instead of looking back."
Though the band sticks with what it does best when it comes to genre, Byrnes says that each member has an extremely eclectic taste in music.
"We are all into so many different things," he says. "Our drummer Brian loves music from easy listening to Swedish death metal. You listen to him play and you wonder, 'How does that work?' We'll ask him what influenced certain parts of music and he'll throw out some bizarre band name that we've never heard of but it all sounds good."
So what does the band think really makes them stand out in the scene?
"It sounds so cliché, but people often tell us that we don't sound like the other bands in the area. There's a familiar aspect to our music, but we don't sound like whatever the flavor of the month is. We don't play metal. We just tell stories with our songs. It's an old style of music, but done with our own twist."
By Doug Sloan
"The Fallen Stars play music that hints of America's heartland. John Mellencamp, John Hiatt, and Steve Earle have all made a name for themselves playing this style of Americana and now The Fallen Stars are taking their shot at the brass ring. Singer-guitarist Bobbo Byrnes is the heart and soul behind The Fallen Stars and leads his troupe with heartfelt vocals and jangling guitars. Geoff Geib on mandolin and B3 organ, Gregg Braught on guitar and vocals, John Vowell on drums and Tracy Byrnes on vocals and bass round out the group, giving the Stars a lush, full sound. Radio-friendly songs include "St. George's Bank," the countrified "Diner Door" (featuring the lead vocals of Tracy Byrnes) the lazy swagger of "Millsboro", the dusty twang of "Outlaws & Angels" and the raunchy grit of "Eveline."
The Orange County Register
Orange Pop: Fallen Stars are on the Rise
By Robert Kinsler
May 7, 2008
For fans of the Fallen Stars, good things truly come to those who wait.
The Fallen Stars are celebrating the release of their latest studio collection, the 13-song "Where the Road Bends," and the bonus sevensong concert recording, "Vayo Con Queso," with two shows this weekend. The Fallen Stars perform at the Marlin Bar in Huntington Beach on Saturday and then play at the Grand Ole Echo in Los Angeles
"We started recording the tracks in November of '06," said lead guitarist Gregg Braught. The Huntington Beach-based group also features singerguitarist Bobbo Byrnes, singer-bassist Tracy Byrnes, drummer John Vowell and keyboardist-mandolin player Geoff Geib.
There were a number of reasons it took 18 months to complete "Where the Road Bends," including a process of recording with Rami Jaffee at Chicasa Studios in Malibu, and then more recently, with Shawn Lindell at Lindell Productions in Westminster.
"Without deadlines, nothing would ever get done," admitted singer-guitarist Bobbo Byrnes. "Thirty-five songs were tracked in the studio; a couple of them were recorded a couple of times."
Tracy Byrnes noted the band had a good reason for doing a sonic double-take: "One of the reasons why we rerecorded at the end was we were a better band."
Highlights on "Where the Road Bends" include the freewheeling alt-country rocker "St. George's Bank," heartland-flavored "One, Two, Three," the folk rock of "Raining in Hollywood" and traditional country-western gem "Diner Door."
"We recorded more songs than what landed on the CD," Vowell explained. "We're not in a hurry to be rushed into something."
The aforementioned "One, Two, Three" was among the songs written only a few weeks before the CD was sent into production.
"The last five (songs) we cut were kind of tough," Bobbo Byrnes said of favorite tracks left off "Where the Road Bends."
Added Geib: "But they are still a big part of our live set list." Geib was recruited to join the band last year.
"In July or August '07, Geoff came in and almost immediately was in the recording studio doing something," Vowell recalled.
Another winning element in the Fallen Stars' sound is the effective way that husband-and-wife team of Bobbo and Tracy Byrnes handle lead vocal duties, as well as the adventurous way they blend those voices beautifully together on songs such as "House of Cards" and "APB."
"Combined vocals are really what we're going for," said Tracy Byrnes, adding that Braught also provides vocal harmonies on many of the new songs. "I have so much fun singing with them," Braught said. "That adds a big element to our sound."
Another successful component of the Fallen Stars' live shows is the masterful presentation of select covers. "We only play covers from people we like," Vowell said. Members noted that songs by the Clash, Bruce Springsteen, Gram Parsons and the Rolling Stones have made that grade.
"Vayo Con Queso" is a live recording of the Fallen Stars captured when the band played at the Coach House on Feb. 21 of this year. Tracks on that set include "Sioux City," "Outlaws & Angels" and "Vegas."
Anyone who purchases "Where the Road Bends" at the band's shows this weekend will get a free copy of "Vayo Con Queso."
Whether recording in the studio or performing live, the Fallen Stars are truly on the rise, as evidenced by the group taking top honors as best live acoustic band at the 2008 Orange County Music Awards held in March.
"It's all about what's best for the song," Tracy Byrnes said.
The Huntington Beach Independent
By Jessie Brunner
Local band The Fallen Stars has found the right mix to impress judges at the Orange County Music Awards as well as audiences.
The Fallen Stars singer-bassist Tracy Byrnes had some trouble suppressing her desire to "rock out" during the Best Live Acoustic Band finals for last year's Orange County Music Awards.
Though the members of the Huntington Beach-based Americana rock band think of themselves more as energetic rock 'n' rollers, their folksy/country/rock sound fares well when unplugged, as they recently earned the Best Live Acoustic Band nomination for the second time, while just missing the cut for Best Live Band.
"I'm not going to say we sabotaged ourselves last year, but we didn't do the best performance for an acoustic setting that we could have," said lead singer and guitarist Bobbo Byrnes. "This year, I think we found a good way to rock and play acoustic."
As described by Tracy Byrnes, who enjoys being the sole woman in the band, their "organic" music sounds like "what you might imagine a cross-country road trip would sound like," with each song telling a distinct story.
In addition to the standard guitar, bass and drum lineup, the band relies on an assortment of instruments — such as a 12-string Rickenbacker, an accordion and a lap steel — to produce original and honest music, and their influences include Bruce Springsteen, The Clash and Bob Dylan.
The band's variety and originality is precisely what impressed Orange County Music Award judges, as well as the clear unity among band members, said the local award show's founder and co-producer Martin Brown.
"Over the last two or three years, The Fallen Stars has improved more than any other band that I've watched," he added.
The band got its start in Billerica, Mass., about 10 years ago, just after Bobbo and Tracy Byrnes wed. After leaving The Gypsy Mechanics, the former was looking for a bassist to accompany his solo work, and the latter was readily available and eager to learn a new instrument.
Although they moved to California in 2000, it wasn't until last year that the pair — who are careful to be strictly band mates when on stage — cemented their group with longtime Huntington Beach resident John Vowell on the drums and Gregg Braught as the lead guitarist, both of whom they met at the Bomb Shelter Recording Studios in Westminster.
Braught, who played for years with cover bands throughout the county, was ecstatic when he was invited to join The Fallen Stars after practicing with them a few times.
"After all these years, it really feels like I've got the right people, and all the factors are there," he said. "It's really cool because we are all into this equally, and we just want get out there, write some songs and have a great time doing it."
Though many of the songs on their last album, 2004's "Found & Lost," concentrated on the misery of lost love, the band promises some new, upbeat tunes for the album they plan to release later this year.
With the working title "Goldenwest" — referring to the local street, both for its proximity to their recording studio and as a path to the ocean — their new disc will feature Louisiana-based saxophonist Duston Erwin and The Wallflowers' keyboardist Rami Jaffee.
Find out if The Fallen Stars are named this year's Best Live Acoustic Band at the Orange County Music Awards at 8 p.m. March 31 at the Grove of Anaheim. Tickets are $22.50 For more information, visit www.orange countymusicawards.com.
By Karen Curley
The Fallen Stars definitely know how to put on a show. At a performance at The Coach House in June, the band's onstage chemistry flowed into the audience, mesmerizing them.
The lyrics are universal yet personal, with Bobbo Byrnes seemingly singing to individuals in the audience. Bassist Tracy Byrnes has an energizing smile and she plays bass with ease. The rest of the band, guitarist Gregg Braught and drummer John Vowell, play like they are having the time of their lives.
The Fallen Stars sound like Uncle Tupelo, the founders of alt country rock. "Our sound is a mixture of roots rock, alt country and early '70's rock," Bobbo says, not allowing his music to be classified in one genre.
"We definitely bow to the alter of Joe Strummer, and Keith Richards is our guitar god." says Vowell. Other influences include Bruce Springsteen and the Beatles. "I've been told I sound like Chrissy Hynde of The Pretenders, "Tracy says. "I consider that a compliment, because they are one of our influences."
The current lineup has only been together for a year, but this Huntington Beach-based band has been around for seven years and are signed to Kiss My Squirrel Records.
The Fallen Stars have an album coming out in the next few months. "It's more forward thinking," Bobbo says. "It's about hopefulness. It makes you feel there is something just around the corner. The inspiration for our new album came from life, people telling us stories and friends and family."