Jonathan Byrd and The Pickup Cowboy are musical gunslingers, vaudevillian hucksters, and old-fashioned tent revivalists. And earlier this year, they were part of the Merlefest on the Road tour. Between heartbreaking ballads and high-energy sing-alongs, the Cowboys entertain and get audiences involved in the show. Byrd is a seventh generation North Carolinian, a preacher’s son, a Gulf War veteran, and an award-winning songwriter known for literary, outsider songs that have become campfire favorites. The Chicago Tribune called Byrd “one of the top 50 songwriters of the past 50 years.” Multi-instrumentalist Johnny Waken cut his teeth on electric guitar in Pittsburgh with rock legend Norm Nardini, opening for The Blues Brothers Band on their Red, Hot & Blue tour in 1992. On stage and after hours, he jammed with members of Bon Jovi and the legendary Steve Cropper. At the age of 24, Waken left music to pursue primitive skills and through-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2000 with an eleven-pound pack. Returning to music years later, Waken joined theatre troupe Paperhand Puppet Intervention, contributing to scores for nine shows and winning four Indy Awards for best original music.