Pat Byrne recently moved to Austin from his native Ireland, where he won the Irish version of the TV show “The Voice” in 2012. Last year he released a new album, “Rituals,” that was recorded partly in Austin with producer Rich Brotherton, a longtime guitarist with Robert Earl Keen’s band.
Since the album’s release, Byrne has been playing songs from “Rituals” at Austin venues such as the Saxon Pub and the Continental Club as well as Gruene Hall in New Braunfels. Our Austin360 Artist of the Month for April 2019, he’s performing April 25 at Cactus Cafe on the University of Texas campus.
It wasn’t a given that fate would shine the way it has here on Byrne, who’s 29. Hailing from Borris, a town of about 2,000 in County Carlow an hour or so southwest of Dublin, Byrne played in cover bands from his teenage years through an unfinished stint at the National University of Ireland in Maynooth. Renowned Irish troubadours including Paul Brady and Luke Kelly resonated with him, but he was mostly drawn to classic American singer-songwriters, from Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen to Tom Waits and Bob Dylan.
When NBC’s “The Voice” launched an Irish offshoot, Byrne’s then-girlfriend and his father encouraged him to give it a shot. His girlfriend “actually filled out the forms and sent in the application, and it came back after I’d forgotten about it that I’d been accepted to audition,” Byrne says. “My ego had a little tickle with that, and I was like, ‘OK, I’ll go and see if I get past this stage.’ And that kept happening. I never thought I’d win, but eventually I won.”
Peter Blackstock talks with Byrne in this week's episode of the Austin360 podcast, I Love You So Much. Listen to the Byrne episode and past episodes at austin360.com/loveaustin360.