As nerves always play a vital role in any performance, Ryan’s stage presence seems to only get stronger. The bigger the show, the bigger the nerves, equals a bigger performance. Interacting with his crowd in every intro of every song. As soon as it’s time to start strumming and singing, he whips his guitar out from behind his back, and let’s his Redneck out. Check out what Ryan had to say during our interview.
Where are you originally from?
When did you start performing music?
I played my first show with a band at 14 years old. It was a family reunion for my girlfriend at the times family reunion.
Which instruments do you play?
I play guitar .
Describe your music interests and abilities.
I am not as much a true musician as I am an entertainer. I’m a pretty good rhythm player, but my vocals and entertaining are my main focus as an artist. Songwriting is also a passion.
What famous musicians inspire you?
Garth Brooks was the first artist to inspire me. His energy and connection with the crowd captured my attention. I wanted to be that guy playing to an arena full of people screaming and singing along with the songs. I also admire George Strait for the longevity of his career, and Merle Haggard for his songs that spoke to the common man.
What are some of your best musical memories?
My first memory made in front of a crowd, was my first show with a band. Kids were dancing to Boot Scootin’ Boogie, and the rush I got from seeing those people enjoy themselves hit me hard. I was hooked on music. I’ve had so many memories in my career. A couple others that stand out were first meeting Luke Bryan before opening for him. That was my first big opener. He was so laid back. I stuck my hand out to shake it, and he said he had just scratched himself (Which was said a little more vulgarly). (Laughs)
He was so cool and we talked a while about country music. My dad was so proud of me that night. I have a picture of him and I, that I look at almost every day. Dad passed a couple years ago and that picture reminds me constantly of that night. The crowd was crazy and we put on a great show. It was a bit of a taste of good things to come. Also opening up for Merle Haggard was a highlight. To stand face to face with a legend you idolize, and then go play your music to get it all started. That was a memory I’ll never forget.
What public events do you have coming up?
We had a weekend in Cincinnati, OH at Toby Keith’s where we played for my hometown crowd Friday and Saturday night. Next I’ll head to Marietta, GA December 13th at 120 Tavern & Music Hall for my last show of the year with a couple of Georgia boys on the bill with me. Joe Hall will be doing an acoustic opener, and we’ll be co-headlining with Nick Alligood. It’s going to be a blast, and will be my last show of the year.
What would you say to beginners to the industry, who are nervous?
I would tell them to be sure they are doing it for the love of it. It’s a tough business and not too financially rewarding. If you are trying to get rich doing it you’ll be disappointed. I think you’ll always have some nerves. They help you have the energy it takes to perform. The important thing is to make sure you are constantly playing and performing as often as you can. It’s a craft and the more you do it, the less the nerves will get in the way.
How do you balance your music with your family and friends?
That is tough. I have two children in Cincinnati, OH – Katie and Dan, and I live in Nashville. I do everything I can to make them know how important they are to me. Sometimes they will come to the shows. My daughter Katie even runs the merchandise booth sometimes. She moved with me my first trip to Nashville at 1 year old, so both kids have been around it their whole life. They are my biggest fans and having them in my corner keeps me driving on. I think it’s important they know;
“if you have a dream – you can make it happen if you work hard enough.”
Hanging with friends is challenging. With the friends from home, we try to go fishing or grab a beer any chance we get. I have a lot of friends that play music with me. Our hang normally involves long hours driving in a van. We have some good times between being on stage.
Should we be expecting anything new to be released?
I have been writing a lot in the last two years or so. As we speak I’m trying to raise the funds for my next album. We have used a crowdfunding platform called Kickstarter to do this. It ended Nov 30th and we have achieved our goal!!! We will head into the studio late this year/early next year and get on recording some of the great new music I’ve been working on. Thanks to our fan’s we are able to make this happened, so,
Where can we follow your career at?
I try hard to share my journey with my fans on social media. I’m constantly sharing pictures, videos, stories from our shows on the road. I think it’s important to have a close relationship with my fans so I often chat with fans on twitter or Facebook. They mean the world to me and often become my friends.
Do you get nervous before a performance?
I get a little bit nervous before each performance but I think it’s a good thing. It typically goes away once we start playing music. The bigger the crowd the more comfortable I get.
Do you attend jam sessions? What makes a good session?
I’m not big on jam sessions, but I do enjoy one show called Whiskey Jam in Nashville. It’s cool to see what other artists are doing, and see some different talent. I haven’t participated yet, but it’s something I’d like to do. I more go to them to network and meet people, and chat with my friends in the business.
Is your family musical?
My grandmother sang in church which led to my uncle and mother having a love of music. My uncle played drums in a band when he was younger. My mom would sing in church as well. Holidays with the family on my mother’s side often leads to singing with my uncle, and cousin, for the family.
“That is where the music in me comes from.”
How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
Act like they don’t happen. Most of the time what we know as a mistake the audience doesn’t catch. There are also times when I’ll mess up the words a little.
Who’s your biggest supporter?
My wife, my kids, my mother, and my in-laws are all tied for my biggest supporters.
What’s your favorite song to perform and why?
My favorite song to perform is Let Your Redneck Out. It is a fun song and we get the crowd involved in it too! It’s about cutting loose and letting your inner Redneck have a moment to come out. We have a lot of fun with it.
About Johnny Naylor:
Johnny Naylor is the founder and owner of 1st Shot Music and a feature writer for Jammerzine. His work can also be found on 1st Shot Music and Naylor’s Notes. You can also get his latest updates on his facebook page.