By Meg O’Neil
Get ready to rock during Winter Festival. Taking the stage at the Hyatt Regency Newport on Saturday, Feb. 16 is Draw the Line, the country’s only Aerosmith tribute band officially endorsed by the legendary rock group.
For over 20 years, Draw the Line’s lead singer Neill Byrnes has emulated the voice, moves, and appearance of Aerosmith’s iconic frontman Steven Tyler – to the point that Byrnes is regularly approached by Aerosmith fans seeking photos and autographs.
“People mistake me for Steven Tyler all the time,” Byrnes told Newport This Week. “I wear a hat a lot and dress down often because of it – it has happened so much over the years that I try to be as low key as possible.”
Byrnes got to meet Aerosmith after winning a Steven Tyler lookalike contest. According to Byrnes, Tyler was so impressed by Byrnes’ talent that Tyler referred him to his own personal vocal coach Mark Baxter, who helped Byrnes hone his voice and craft for 10 years.
Draw the Line has been entertaining audiences of all ages with the hit songs of Aerosmith since 1991. “Aerosmith is a band that spans generations,” says Byrnes. “Kids today know every Aerosmith lyric because of video games like Guitar Hero. When they see Draw the Line perform, it could be their first experience of a live rock show, so we make sure that we put on a great set for everyone of every age.”
Grinding out nearly four decades worth of Aerosmith songs night after night is a challenge that Byrnes relishes. “One of the things I love about this gig is that you never get bored – it’s always something new every night, no matter where we play.”
To purchase tickets to the Feb. 16 8 p.m. show, call the festival office at 847-7666, visit NewportWinterFestival.com, or buy tickets at the Music Box, 160 Thames St. & MWR ITT- Newport Navy Base.