It’s neat when a classic rock band endorses a tribute band, as Aerosmith blessed Draw The Line as the best live on WBCN, which broadcasted the endorsement to their listeners in Boston. Well, Somerset Abbey in Madison is scheduled to present the venue’s second live concert since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This one features the acclaimed home-town lads from Beantown on Friday, Aug. 21. I contacted the lead singer, Neill Byrnes, at his home on Sunday, Aug. 2, to find out more about his band and discovered there are more than a few surprises in Draw The Line.

Q: It was either on your website or your Facebook page, not sure which, but there was a brief video of you stating that Draw The Line was getting ready for a performance that night. Sounds like things are picking up a little for you guys, right?
Byrnes: We played last night and the night before — our first two public shows since the middle of March. The people who had booked those shows for awhile didn’t want to cancel them because they wanted to see how it was going to play out a little bit. Last night’s show was in Massachusetts, where they moved into Phase 3. They implemented those social distancing protocols, and it went really well. We were really amazed, they sold out, and even though there was alcohol there and stuff everybody seemed to follow the rules. There were tables there up front. If you were sitting at them, you didn’t have to wear a mask. But if you got up to move around, you had to put them back on.

Q: Where was the first show located, was it in your home state, too?
Byrnes: No, it was in Rhode Island.

Q: Well, it sounds like Massachusetts has its act together COVID-19-wise, that is.
Byrnes: You know, if the people can really do the right thing we can make this happen, but unfortunately all it takes is one idiot whose been drinking a little bit (and) stands too close to someone else and they complain … that’s really all it would take to shut it down.

Q: It’s a very tenuous situation.
Byrnes: It really is, and it’s fragile — although it went good and there are some reasons to be hopeful that it’s going to continue. I mean, we’re really excited that the show up there in Maine is going to go on, it’s given you a semblance of normalcy — to get the chance to play for people, we’re hopeful we can continue to do that.

Q: Have you ever played up in Maine before?
Byrnes: Yeah, we played this venue last year … and it was great then, as well — it was fantastic. The band has been going on for about 30 years now so Maine has been like a frequent stop on our calendars over the years.


Q: One of the things that impresses me about your band is that the group you’re paying tribute to endorsed you. That speaks highly of what you do.
Byrnes: I mean, it’s really what you strive for — the original artists to appreciate your representation of them, you know, and if you get accolades from them you just feel like you’re doing it right — doing them justice. When they went on the radio — on WBCN, a big radio station in the Boston area for almost 20 years — and publicly endorse us like they did, it was pretty incredible at the time.

Q: Now, when it comes to the Aerosmith songs you perform, do you cover one part of their career or do you sample from all of it?
Byrnes: We cover the whole catalogue, from ’73 up to the more recent stuff, but we like to weight the shows more toward the ’70s stuff because a lot of the requests we get are from that period. There’s almost like two eras of Aerosmith, right? 1987 forwards and up to “Done With Mirrors” — the 70s stuff — I like to do nuggets from that time period, say up to ’85, but we do all the hits from there like “Love In An Elevator,” “Dude Looks Like A Lady,” “Rag Doll,” “Cryin’,” “Living on the Edge” — you’ll get the big hits but we don’t like to delve into deeper tracks from those areas.

Q: Wait a minute — how long did you say your band has been around?!
Byrnes: (Chuckle) In 2021, it’ll be 30 years.

Q: Oh my God — 30 years! When you consider how long Aerosmith’s been doing this, your track record is pretty impressive, too, man!
Byrnes: (Laughter) It’s pretty crazy, right? Ya know, we didn’t think we’d last more than three years when we first started … we were going to try to use it as a springboard to start an original project but that was the early 90s and the music industry was changing quite a bit at that point and they weren’t signing as many bands anymore — the chances of really getting an original rock act to fly was dwindling and, at the same time, this band started getting more popular and more gigs and it’s been growing and growing ever since the beginning at a steady rate. So, we decided to keep going with what works, you know — what people want.

Q: And with Aerosmith off the road and doing a residency in Las Vegas nowadays, Draw The Line is the last chance to hear these classic songs live. Now, just out of curiosity, are all the members in the band the same as when you started?
Byrnes: No, the original band is long gone — the guys that have probably been with me the longest have been with me since the early 2000s — so almost 20 years. Our main bass player, David Hull, has played in the Joe Perry Project — he’s an original member of that band — unfortunately, he’s not going to be doing the Maine gig because he’s older, in his late 60s, and he’s really hesitant to come out because he’s in that high-risk group … he’s on hiatus at the moment.

Q: At 71, I can resonate with his feelings, believe you me. Hey, Neill, is there anything you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?
Byrnes: Well, I don’t know, just maybe that we’ve been endorsed by Aerosmith and that we’ve been around for 30 years — been touring North America that whole time and we’ve done a little bit over in Europe. I just was in the Lynyrd Skynyrd movie, “Street Survivors” — it just came out — and I played Steven Tyler in that movie. We were on the show “World’s Greatest Tribute Bands” out in L.A. a couple of years ago and we’ve been featured on MTV — over the years we kind of just accumulated these things.

Q: Also the fact that you’ve played the Somerset Abbey before, too.
Byrnes: Yes, we were there just last year and we had a great turnout, so don’t wait on buying your tickets, folks — we’re really looking forward to getting back up there! (

Lucky Clark has spent over 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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