B&E: The John Butler Trio

Breaking & Entering: A look at acts breaking at radio and retail and entering Billboard charts. This week: The John Butler Trio.

Profiling acts breaking at radio and/or retail and entering Billboard's charts.

Appropriate for a day at the beach or a night on the town, the John Butler Trio's laid-back yet glitzy confection, "Sunrise Over Sea," debuts at No. 21 on Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart this week.

"Anyone who doesn't enjoy country, blues or folk will be surprised and then gladly seduced by the Australian threesome's acoustic cross-pollination of these genres because," says Billboard's Christa L. Titus in a review of the group's U.S. debut on Lava. "The group's home-distilled sound also embraces pop's upbeat and accessible nature."

Torrance, Calif.-born singer/songwriter John Butler is already a critical darling in Australia, his father's native country where he was raised. The JBT took home three awards -- including best male vocalist and best independent artist -- from last year's Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) Awards. Through his own label, Jarrah Records, Butler told Billboard's Christie Eliezer that he sold more than 400,000 copies of his previous four albums.

Butler, who received a few grants in his early days, uses a portion of his proceeds for JB Seed, an organization that assists indigenous and migrant Australian musicians, plus human rights and environmental issues-focused songwriters.

Butler, who learned guitar at 16 and supplemented his skills with a 1930s Dobro that belonged to his grandfather, built a fanbase with Australian street gigs and small club dates before forming the original John Butler Trio. The group began touring extensively on the strength of self-released albums and EPs before disbanding in 2003.

During his time off, Butler wrote most of the latest 13-track set and reformed the trio with bassist Shannon Birchall and brother-in-law/drummer Nicky Bomba to record. An album highlight, "Peaches and Cream," was inspired by Butler's baby Banjo, who was also born during the hiatus.

With Bomba committed to his own band, Michael Barker has joined the group as the touring drummer, and added some percussion to "Sunrise Over Sea" as it was being finished.

With Barker, the trio just finished a South By Southwest appearance in Austin and opened for the Black Crowes' reunion show at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom. Following a March 29 performance on CBS’ "The Late Show With David Letterman," the group is on its way to France and the U.K. for April dates, and will return to North America in May.

Artist site: www.johnbutlertrio.com
Label site: www.lavarecords.com