by Marisa BrownThough he was born and spent the first 11 years of his life in California, it was in Australia, his father's native land, that John Butler picked up the instrument that would later be vital to his career. After having shown interest in the guitar, the young Butler was given his late grandfather's Dobro, and he quickly began learning to play different styles of music, including Indian, Celtic, bluegrass, and folk. His self-released cassette tape brought him interest in the city of Perth, where he was living, and soon after, in 1998, his first album, John Butler, with drummer Jason McGann and bassist Gavin Shoesmith, was released, followed in 2000 by the JBT EP and Three -- the first of his albums to also eventually came out in the U.S. -- in 2001 (Showsmith, at this point, had decided to leave the John Butler Trio, but he was replaced by Rory Quirk and then later by Andrew Fry, who joined the band for its 2002 American tour). By now a bona fide star in Australia, in 2003, shortly after the birth of his daughter Banjo, the guitarist issued the double-disc live set Living 2001-2002 and the EP Zebra, with Sunrise Over Sea (for the latter, the John Butler Trio had become Butler with bassist Shannon Birchall and drummer Michael Barker) in 2004. This album sold well in Australia, debuting at number one on the ARIA charts, and led Butler to an opening spot on Dave Matthews' tour that year. Still with Jarrah, the company that he and fellow Aussies the Waifs had founded in order to distribute their music overseas, and the same band, Butler released Grand National worldwide in March of 2007.