by Kelsey Butler

“It’s amazing how music touches the soul and the mind and the heart. And how it can change and inspire people.” Local musician Tony Irby explains why he’s spent so much of his life behind a guitar. “That’s why I keep pushing forward and keep doing what I’m doing.”

Irby is a staple in the local music scene playing regular gigs in Anniston, Little Bridge Marina in Rainbow City, and Loco Mex in Jacksonville. If you’ve been to a Tony Irby show you know that he can play it all from folk to rock and pop to country and ballads. “I’m just a lover of music,” he admits, “I just love people. I love the music, and it’s a joy a blessing every day to be able to pick up that guitar and to sing.”

Watching Irby perform is like going on a journey. “I don’t like to take [set] breaks,” he explains. “That’s just me; thats my personal preference. I don’t like to see people leave. As long as I can see somebody’s foot tapping on the floor or somebody lip-syncing off in the distance that gives me energy, and I can feel it. If I can capture the crowd I’m going to keep playing.”

Originally from Pensacola, FL, Irby moved to Tennessee to chase his music dreams. “I spent years in Tennessee trying to make it, you know in Pigeon Forge and Nashville, but everything changed when I moved to Alabama.”

Irby found his home in Alabama. “It’s amazing, as far as music, it’s like [Alabama] is the heart… When I moved here it was unbelievable. All that struggle I went through just trying to make it, and then I moved here and I got to just kick back and get into the local circuits and learn to pay my dues. That’s what keeps me going every show. I just thoroughly enjoy bringing joy to other people through the gift of song and the gift of music.”

Irby’s taste in music is as varied as the songs he performs. “I’ll play a song by Sam Cooke and the next thing you know I’ll do something by Chris Young or Jason Aldean,” he explains. “I try to mix it up as much as possible. One of my favorite artists in the 80s was Prince. And Journey. So I try to play everything. I try to capture everybody’s attention.” 

“My parents were really cool and they raised me with 60s and 70s style music,” Irby continues. “A lot of James Taylor, Beatles, Elvis Presley. That’s how I learned to sing harmony is by The Beatles and some of the greats like Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees and Steely Dan and the Eagles… I guess you could say I’m a lover of all music.”

Irby believes he has music to thank for his life. “It turned my life around you know? I went through struggles through the years, through my twenties and thirties, just like everybody else struggles, but music has always been there.”

He continues saying, “If it wasn’t for my mother and my grandmother – my grandmother bought me my first guitar – if it wasn’t for them keeping me in church and in school choir and buying those classic records and listening to them and pushing me to play I honestly think I wouldn’t be alive today because I think music saved my life as a child.”

Music also brought Irby his wife, Lisa. “Music is what brought us together. She’s been a lover of music for a long time also.” Lisa handles all of the booking and advertisements for Irby’s shows. She helps set up the PA system and helps run the sound. “We just love it, and she stands behind me 100-percent…. We’re a team; we work together.” 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here