The Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Mississippi is the oldest surviving juke joint in MS and a historic treasure of American music. See you there Feb 22 with the great Jimmy "Duck" Holmes and some of the finest blues artists from the region. It is an honor and privilege to come down from Boston to play and learn from Mr. Holmes himself, the last of the Bentonia bluesmen. Thanks to Gilbert Vowell for putting me in touch and supporting my love for this music.
Tickets are now available for the November 16th “River Music” album release party at City Winery Boston. Order yours here!
ABOUT THE SHOW:
Fresh off of his seventh tour of Europe, Ryan Lee Crosby celebrates the release of his new album River Music with an eclectic performance at City Winery on Friday, November 16, 7:30pm. River Music blends essences of American folk-blues and North Indian raga into meditative songs of impermanence, compassion and joy. Crosby will sing and perform on 12 string guitar, 6 string guitar and chaturangui (22 string Indian slide guitar) and will be joined at City Winery by his intercontinental bandmates.
Through his recordings and performances, Crosby hopes to inspire peace, openness and respect. His music-making is an inward process: creativity through meditation, devotion and discipline. But it is also oriented around community-building, guided by the potential of music to connect the internal to the external, the individual to the group, and to bridge seemingly disparate cultures and traditions.
River Music, Crosby’s sixth full-length album, will be available on LP and CD on 10.10.18, co-released by Germany’s CosiRecords Schallplatten and Seattle’s Knick Knack Records. The result of years of study and practice, River Music features six original songs, one traditional and one cover.
The original track “I’m Dissatisfied” features twangy guitar lines and bluesy harmonica over accented tabla rhythms. Crosby credits legendary bluesman Robert Belfour for inspiring the guitar work, after Crosby met Belfour in Mississippi shortly before his death. Crosby says the track’s lyrics are “a traditional blues theme of dissatisfaction or being bothered, but when I sing it, I think about the experience of meditation. I experience a connection between meditation and playing blues. Both involve sitting and being with the suffering around what bothers you.”
Crosby compares his band to a flowing river of music; each performance is like a cup from the river and the instrumental title track “River Music” exemplifies this. The song was created out of an improvisation session with the band, based on a kaharwa taal, (a tabla rhythm) performed by Koushik Chakrabarty and features a stunning calabash solo performed by Grant Smith.
The album culminates with “Since I Lay My Burden Down”, a well known hymn originating in the African American spiritual tradition. Crosby’s version features a bouncing tabla, shuffling guitar and a dramatic vocal line, altering between crowing in his deep, yawning registers and his potent midrange. Crosby was greatly influenced by Mississippi Fred McDowell‘s rendition of this song and has an intimate relationship with this piece of music. Crosby first performed the song at the funeral of his recently deceased Southern Baptist mother, and he continues to feel a sense of communion with her when he plays it.
A veteran of the local music scene, Crosby has evolved through many musical incarnations. He first started performing in Boston in 2001 as the lead singer/guitarist of punk band Cancer to the Stars. The punk-rocker, turned award-winning singer-songwriter, became a masterful blues-guitarist, and now student of Hindustani classical raga, Crosby tours Europe annually and select US regions. He currently lives in Medford, Massachusetts and performs regularly in the greater Boston area.
River Music is out now in Europe! Reviews are starting to come in:
From Germany’s hippiesland.de
and Belgium’s rootsville.eu:
Multi-instrumentalist Ryan Lee Crosby is on his sixth full CD with this "River Music". Often this Boston-based bluesman plays with an intercontinental formation. The album is released for Europe by the German Cosi Records and for his homeland this happens via Knick Knack Records from Seattle.
For those who have no affinity with Ryan Lee Crosby we can immediately say that his "blues" has something intriguing. Partly due to the use of the Oriental slide guitar, the points of contact are of course close to the raga music. But also by using African instruments such as the West African calabash, the Mali blues is soon within reach.
On this "River Music" we find 8 songs, the majority of which are of course written by Ryan Lee himself. The most noteworthy song on this album is the RL Burnside classic "Going Down South" that blends the blues from the North Mississippi with the textures of North Indian Hindu classical raga music. He finishes with the spiritual "Since I Lay My Burden Down" and with this, "River Music" belongs to the better folk and world blues albums.
"Modal Improvisations for 34 Strings," the debut cassette from the Rob Noyes/Ryan Lee Crosby duo, sold out in its first few days! A 2nd edition is currently being made by the Cabin Floor Esoterica label in Ohio. We will have a few copies on hand for the release show on September 19 at Streetcar Wines in Jamaica Plain, MA at 8pm. If you want a copy, but can't make it, place your order with Cabin Floor Esoterica on their Bandcamp page.
The tape has received some favorable press and radio, which can be found at the following links:
I am pleased to announce that I am joining forces with Knick Knack Records in Seattle, WA and CosiRecords in Oberhausen, Germany, to release my new album River Music on vinyl and digital formats this October. Tour dates will follow in the EU from October 25-November 12 with concerts in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy. More detail to follow soon.
And here is another video from a recent performance at the Charles River Museum of Industry with Debo Band's Danny Mekonnen. We did an unrehearsed, improvised set with Koushik Chakrabarty on tabla. For me, it was a thrilling experience. Have a look on YouTube.
Locally in New England, I will be playing 2 shows at the end of July with my friends Ted Drozdowski and Lloyd Thayer. We are doing a couple of "in the round" performances at Stubblebine Lutherie in Somerville MA and the Galactic Theatre in Warren, RI on July 27 and 28. Check out the event invite here.
And for those in Boston who are organized around mind/body wellness, you can find me playing my 22 string Chaturangui every Wednesday in Nicoline's class at Samara Yoga at 5:45 and also this month I'm also playing in class with Anna at ASANA on July 10 at 6:15.
New tour dates added for March 2018 - first shows in Italy, with new venues in Switzerland, Germany and Holland. I'll be playing solo, traveling once again with my label mate Thisell, from Sweden. All shows are listed on the Live page.