Brian Burns Biography
Last updated: 10/17/2011
Brian Burns has, for many years, been regarded as one of Texas’ top performing songwriters, his work having been covered by a number of legendary artists. But in recent years Brian has emerged as one of his state's most powerful and engaging performers. His songs explore both the poignant and the humorous sides of humanity, drawing out the things we’ve all felt and wish we could have said. The warmth, wit, and eclecticism of his performances captivate audiences night after night.
Brian grew up in Central Texas listening to the western ballads of Marty Robbins and the progressive country music of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. Early on, he developed an appreciation for musical depth, along with a knack for the story. As his passion for music grew, he began to explore a variety of styles ranging from pop to reggae. At age 16, Brian hit the road on a musical journey that would eventually find him sharing stages with some of America’s top performers.
Brian’s Texas roots remained an integral force in his life and work. After his first million-or-so miles of rough road and half-a-lifetime of impressive musical accomplishments - yet not much to show for it, Brian planted those roots firmly back in Lone Star soil. “Music’s not a choice I made, I believe the choice made me,” declared Brian in the title cut of his debut solo album, Highways, Heartaches, and Honky-Tonks, a 1997 work which summarized his musical mission up to that point. His second album, 1999’s Angels & Outlaws, produced the venomous, yet humorous Texan anthem, Welcome To Texas (Now Don’t Forget To Go Back Home) which dominated FM heavy rotation lists in the nation’s largest country music markets for many months. But Angels & Outlaws also met critical acclaim and enlightened a discriminating listening audience to a more intellectual and introspective side of Brian Burns.
Brian's 2001 release, The Eagle & The Snake: Songs Of The Texians, presented an epic collection of classic, contemporary, and original ballads based on the history, folklore, and culture of Texas. The Eagle & The Snake was heralded by reviewers as a masterpiece shortly after its release, then went on to become an established Texas classic. The album’s first single, I’ve Been Everywhere (In Texas) became one of the only singles in the history of recorded music that was produced in an artist's home project studio, yet went on to chart nationally on the Radio & Records country chart. The Eagle & The Snake would also lead Brian's development of Once Upon A Time In Texas, the state's premier educational presentation for K-12 Social Studies curriculum enhancement. Once Upon A Time has taken Brian's musical and storytelling talents into thousands of elementary and intermediate schools and remains Texas' #1 school assembly program to date.
In 2004, Brian released Heavy Weather, continuing to mine a rich balladeering vein with songs like Indianola, The Train Wreck At Kiowa Creek, and his remake of Gordon Lightfoot's Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald, which stayed on the top of the XM Satellite Radio playlists for several years. Heavy Weather also produced the "sleeper" hit Thunderstorms & Tyler Roses, which remains a popular play in radio markets nationwide. Brian's 2006 release, Border Radio, introduced a collection of poetic romps through west Texas and Mexico - although the recording was done in a stationary setting, virtually all of the songwriting and production decisions were made where Brian listens to music the most – out on the highway. Border Radio won XM Satellite Radio's "Best In Texas" award in 2006.
This year, Brian releases his sixth, and perhaps strongest, studio work to date: American Junkyard. This collection of songs looks at our nation through the eyes of an aging patriot who sees us at our best and our worst all at once - a keen observer indeed. One song might have you laughing out loud while the next will make you bite down and swallow hard. Noted Texas music critic Dave Pilot writes: "We’ve followed Brian down lost highways, shared a listen to both haunted jukeboxes and border radio. We’ve heard him sing of storms and urban legends, of epic train wrecks, distant memories, and even fire ants. Texian soldiers, lovers, rogues, old Pullman porters and the wisdom of the sagest of drunks have populated the landscape of Brian Burns records since his first album hit the airwaves. But here, in the American Junkyard, Burns tells the story of us. Perhaps more importantly, the story of what we’ve lost. In that way, he’s taken his place as one of those rare generational singers or songwriters with the ability to transform and inspire. Croce, Lightfoot, Clark. Hank, Waylon, Lefty. Dylan and The Boss. All different and unique, but all with the ability to strike at the very core of each of us."
Brian is a stellar singer/songwriter and guitarist, yet a decidedly down-to-earth performer. Remaining friendly and accessible to supporters, fans, and radio, he performs an average of 300 shows a year including solo performances and songwriter shows with some of the nation's top artists. In an industry that has always followed formulas, business models, and demographics, Brian Burns has created his own music industry, on his own terms, based upon honesty and steadfast commitment to his work and the people who enjoy it. Just one man and his guitar - drawing clarity out of the white noise of modern Texan and American culture, then turning it into a good time to be had by all - ages 9 to 90.