Y'ALL combine the rural nostalgic Americana of their upbringing with the urban forward-thinking frankness of their adopted big city home to create songs that strike a chord with music lovers of all stripes.
James Dean Jay Byrd and Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer met in May of 1992 and started writing songs together almost immediately. By that fall they had dubbed themselves "Y'ALL" and were performing on every stage in New York City that would have them. Their first performances introduced a style of combining original songs with stories about their lives that Y'ALL has become known for. By the end of 1993 Jay and Steven were doing a weekly cabaret show. The songs in that show comprised their first self-released album. They were given the Back Stage Bistro Award for the show, and were named finalists in the 1994 Musician Magazine Best Unsigned Band Contest based on songs from the album.
Though the New York cabaret scene nurtured their early days by giving them lots of encouragement and allowing them to get their feet wet, Jay and Steven were making bigger plans. They liked being compared to the Smothers Brothers or George Burns and Gracie Allen, but they loved being compared to the Everly Brothers or Dolly Parton and Porter Waggoner. They decided to hire a producer and record another album. And they moved away from cabarets and theaters into coffeehouses, acoustic music clubs, and other venues where people go to listen to music. The spare, simple sound of Y'ALL -- built around acoustic guitar, baritone ukulele and the duo's sweet, clear harmonies -- recalls the American musical styles they grew up with, including folk, gospel and country. (Musically, they feel right at home in rooms where singer-songwriters and acoustic bands play.) In August 1994, Y'ALL released their second album, The Next Big Thing. The songwriting, performances, digital recording, packaging and marketing all showed that Y'ALL had taken a big step, creatively and in terms of production values.
In late 1994, Y'ALL ventured out of town. Songs from The Next Big Thing were being played on college and community radio stations across the Northeast, so Jay and Steven set out in a rental car to play in dozens of towns. They shared stages with cowpunk bands and political folksingers in rock clubs and coffeehouses. They learned that their friendly, straightforward style could win over just about any audience, and that people of all ages, backgrounds and temperaments related to their songs.
In the meantime, they began planning another recording project, a combined EP and three-song Christmas single. They decided this time to record fewer songs but include more instrumentation. The album, Big Apple Pie, was released in the fall of 1995. The single, Christmastime In The Trailerpark, was released at their fourth annual Christmas benefit concert on December 1st. The Christmas songs got lots of holiday airplay, and Big Apple Pie is still showing up on folk radio show playlists. These recordings showed Jay and Steven that a small acoustic band was an ideal setting for their songs, so they began performing whenever possible with additional players. In the two years since releasing Big Apple Pie, Jay and Steven have continued to write and perform new songs, and they've recorded many of them live for an on-going series of cassette-only singles they're calling Chicken 'n' Dumplin's. Y'ALL continue to expand their touring schedule, performing regularly in clubs and cafes, as well as coffeehouses and bookstores in New York City and all over the Northeast. They've also written an autobiography, called The Good Book: the true story of Y'ALL, which tells the story of their journey to New York City. Their long-term goal is to produce and host their own national television show.
Note: This information was posted to the web site when Y'ALL appeared at our showcase in April, 1998.