High-Resolution Photos For Media:
(All photos by Jamie Escola for Tiltawhirl Photography)
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Ryan has shared the stage with the following performers:
Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders)
The Zac Brown Band
Third Eye Blind
The Gin Blossoms
Dave Mason (Traffic)
Mark Ballas (From Dancing With The Stars)
Glass Harp / Phil Keaggy
Humbert seems to have been not only born to play music, but to write, sing, produce and even market music. He sings with a powerful vibrato not often associated with pop and alt-country. The tone he delivers is matched only by the feverish pace with which he crafts his lyrical artform. However, what truly separates Humbert from all others is his uncanny ability to market music in unique ways.
- Mark Horn / Buzzbin Magazine
Keeps Me Coming Back For More will make Rob Thomas jealous and may just be the best power-pop ballad I’ve heard from anybody all year.
- Bill Gruber / Music & Program Director / 91.3 The Summit WAPS-FM
Old Souls, New Shoes showcases his increasing confidence with material that combines both a hard-hitting anthemic urgency and a hauntingly dark edge.
- Anastasia Pantsios / Cleveland Scene
Singer-songwriter Ryan Humbert’s third album, Old Souls, New Shoes, is as polished, well-crafted and sheerly listenable as any disc on this list. Stylistically it veers from lowdown Southern rock (“Redemption”) to ’80s new-wave dance (“Sideways”), jaunty ’70s pop (“Old Souls, New Shoes”) to contemporary should-be hits (“Keeps Me Coming Back For More,” “People Standing Still”), all united by his distinctive, expressive voice. A native Stark Countian now based in Nashville, 27-year-old Humbert is a major-league talent.
- Dan Kane / The Canton Repository – Noteworthy New CDs
Old Souls, New Shoes is all about catchy ear-friendly melodies and toe-tapping grooves.
- Malcolm Abram X / Akron Beacon Journal
Humbert is a dynamo…eager and rapid-fire…a catalyst for and enthusiastic supporter of the N.E. Ohio music scene.
- Cleveland Free Times
Hangman gets loud again with the electric-white-blues of “Redemption.” After this disc, he has nothing to atone for.
- Cleveland Scene
The hardest working man in the N.E. Ohio music scene.
- Mimi‘s Music News
Ryan Humbert may be just 27, but his knowledge of roots music borders on the encyclopedic. Whatever that intangible ‘it’ factor may be that defines musical inspiration, Humbert has it in spades.
Akron singer-songwriter Ryan Humbert demonstrates a mastery of American music that rivals almost anyone’s.
- Cleveland Free Times
One Night Only: Acoustic Live finds Humbert hosting a rollicking, unplugged revival surrounded by a choir and four-piece band. (On the covers on the record) Humbert sings as if he owns these tunes. He does, however, own a handful of weary-hearted originals that more than hold their own against the standards.
— Cleveland Scene
Buzzbin Magazine – November 4th, 2010 BY MARK HORN
Ryan Humbert: On his way up from Canton
Ryan Humbert was born to play music. Ok, so there are many Canton musicians who claim to have been born to play music. Humbert, however, seems to have been not only born to play music, but to write, sing, produce and even market music.
He sings with a powerful vibrato not often associated with pop and alt-country. The tone he delivers is matched only by the feverish pace with which he crafts his lyrical artform. However, what truly separates Humbert from all others is his uncanny ability to market music in unique ways.
On November 5, 6 and 7, Humbert and his 10-piece string band will take you through a musical journey paying tribute to Roy Orbison at The Metropolitan Center Grand Ballroom in Canton. The proceeds will benefit the Rainbow Repertory Company, which was established in 1994 to bring theatrical arts into schools. Then on December 11, he will perform the fourth in a series of shows entitled “Strung Out (this one being the Holiday Extravaganza)” to benefit the Akron Canton Regional Food Bank.
“I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t going to benefit from doing this; I mean I am the promoter of this show (Orbison). But If it doesn’t go well and I personally don’t make any money it’s ok… but, like with the show at the Akron Civic, we were able to feed 3,500 people through the Food Bank.”
And while Humbert meshes local non-profit work with his music career, he is honest about his national aspirations, which are lofty and yet, based on his talent, attainable.
“The last thing I want to do is go away and make it big, tour the world, and comeback and Canton has died, he says with sincerity in his voice. “You want to help while you can. We did the show at the Canton Palace in May of 2010 and gave over $nearly 4,000 to Project Rebuild. That’s a great program right here in Canton.”
Project REBUILD is a Canton based non-profit that re-engages out-of-school, unemployed and underemployed youth (ages 16-24) to complete a high school diploma while learning marketable skills in the construction trades through the rehabilitation or construction of affordable housing. Humbert is proud of that accomplishment.
Over the past six years, he is also proud of the fact that he has opened for the likes of Elvis Costello, Chris Isaak, Michelle Branch and The Zac Brown Band. There are plenty more big names that have toured through northeast Ohio that have had Ryan on the bill as well. He has played over 500 shows since beginning back in 2004 at almost every venue in northeast Ohio and he has been nominated for several awards over the past six years. And when you talk to him he appears to be just getting started.
Having just released his third full-length solo recording, the self-produced Old Souls, New Shoes, Ryan proves to be one of Ohio’s premiere songwriting talents. The album is a carefully crafted collection of 14 songs that would appeal to fans of pop, dance and what Humbert calls “repeat & weeps”.
“I just wanted to make a good pop album and that is what Old Soul, New Shoes is,” he explains quite frankly. “It’s roll-down-the-window, driving music. I like so many different kinds of music, even older musicians like Elton John, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison. A lot of that comes out here.”
Humbert began his journey into music as a teenager, while attending Green High School. “I have been a music fan for so long that if I want to cover a song, it’s because I really like it,” Humbert says. “There is a song by Lucinda Williams called “Can’t Let Go” off of her Car Wheels On a Gravel Road, and that was the song that made me want to play guitar.
“It was like this song that was folk, country, rock, blues, it’s everything and I wanted to learn to play like that,” Ryan recalls passionately.
“I had not been privy to full-blown songs that mixed blues, country with a punk attitude. I was listening to whatever was on the radio, whatever I was told to listen to.”
He started playing guitar at age 17. Soon after Humbert formed a band called The Hand-Me-Downs which focused on alt-country. He led the group performing covers by the likes of Tom Waits, Bob Dylan and The Blasters.
After high school Humbert attended the Pittsburgh Art Institute where he graduated with a Graphic Arts Degree in 2001. Even then, he began leaving his mark as he worked for the director for the arts and promotions for the National Gallery of American’s Young Inventors. He then worked for 91.3 The Summit radio in charge of promotions and was the creator of its current logo.
His musical career was still his main focus and it would be during his time at the radio station that he made acquaintance with Emily Bates. Bates began working as an intern in 2003 for The Summit. She had come from her hometown of Greencastle, Indiana moved to Akron after graduating from Denison University near Columbus.
“He is a music encyclopedia,” Bates says with awe. “He could tell you something about every song. And it is very interesting in that he has such a wide variety of influences. So we do a little bit of everything.”
Bates has now been Ryan’s backup singer for seven years. And in 2010, the two recorded an acoustic album of ballad duet classics entitled, Tell Me What You See. The duo covered songs by Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, Tom Petty, Simon and Garfunkel and of course the title track of The Beatles’ “Tell Me What You See“.
“We work really well together” notes Humbert. “We went in with a bottle of wine and a book of songs and record this live, all one day in the studio. It was a side project and people seem to love it. It’s us doing songs we love.”
Besides Humbert’s new solo release he has produced six albums including his 2004 debut Nothing to Lose, 2005’s Hangman, 2007’s One Night Only: Acoustic Live, 2007’s Before You Leave (with Emily Bates) and their follow-up, Tell Me What You See in 2010.
Humbert’s current backing band lineup includes: Emily Bates on rhythm guitar, Ben Evans on keyboard from Canton, Matt Middleton on drums from Hartville, Jared Lees on bass from Akron, Erin Vaughn on lead guitar from Canton and Michael Houff on violin from Cleveland.
“Ryan is very energetic,” Evans says. “He gets excited when he finds a new melody; it’s infectious. It is a very genuine sound we have with Ryan. We have all been music buffs our whole lives and we are not trying to be something we are not.”
Besides doing his own songs, Humbert has become a producer for noted local veteran singer Tracey Thomas, onetime singer of the Akron ‘80s new wave sensation, Unit 5.
“We just became buddies,” Humbert recalls. “I was driving home from Pittsburgh one night and I heard that song. And I thought, ‘What the hell is this, it’s so cool,’ and I called Bill Gruber (91.3 music director), who I knew. He told me it was Tracey Thomas.”
Humbert would go on to co-write five songs off Thomas’ 2007 release GhostTown and co-produced it. He also plays guitar, mandolin and sings on it with Thomas. She knew I had a vision and she just let me have at it. Humbert also co-produced Thomas’ 2003 Dancing in Cairo.
“Ryan is one of my best friends. He is the most driven, ambitious person I have ever known. He is an amazing talent and I love working with him,” says Thomas.
In 2006 Ryan and his band had the honor of playing for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s American Music Masters Series in honor of Roy Orbison. They were the only band from northeast Ohio asked to participate, performing a 12-song “Roy” set. The success of that show prompted the upcoming second show in November.
The tribute show is actually Humbert’s second performer he has done in tribute fashion. In September of 2007, Ryan portrayed Hank Williams in a three-night run of the Canton Cabaret’s “Hank Williams: The Concert That Never Was” in which he performed 22 of Hank’s songs.
Although Humbert moved to Nashville in the spring of 2008 to record Old Souls, New Shoes, he has been back in Canton since 2009.
So what keeps this rising star from letting the accolades and success go to his head?
“It is upbringing really,” he mentions immediately. “That and the people you are around. I was a bit of an asshole when I was younger. Things made me mad. I realized that was not going to get me anywhere, so I eliminated the stress as much as possible.”
“I like doing things that I have a passion for. I have seen too many people who I know and love doing things that they don’t really want to be doing. And for me, as long as I can get away with it, I am gonna do what I love. And if it becomes a point where I can’t do it, then I am ok with that. But I am gonna give it a shot while I can, and able to do it.”
Don’t be fooled by his words because Humbert wants to break out big. What may lead Humbert to the promised land of musical fame is not just a powerful voice, songwriting skills beyond his years or a desire to give back to the community, but his knack for putting it all together and still having fun.
Years from now Humbert may look back at what led him down the path to pop glory, and all he will have to do is look at his shoes which are firmly on the ground and a soul that is not old or new, but genuine as he reaches for the stars.
Canton Repository – Friday, April 30th, 2010 BY DAN KANE
Ryan Humbert & Emily Bates’ Natural Chemistry
Watching Ryan Humbert and Emily Bates onstage together, trading grins, quips and close vocal harmonies, it is natural to assume they are a couple or even brother and sister.
“We get that a lot,” Humbert says. “It’s because Em and I have a natural chemistry onstage. That’s what makes it work. We genuinely have a good time together.”
While their relationship is a platonic and musical one — she is married, incidentally — Humbert and Bates have logged plenty of hours over the past seven years. They vocalize together in the Ryan Humbert Band and as a duo, at area bars, coffeehouses, festivals and even Cleveland’s House of Blues, where they recently opened for Chris Isaak.
And on May 8, they will be front and center onstage at Canton’s Palace Theatre for a fund-raising acoustic concert titled “Ryan Humbert: Strung Out” (see page D-14).
“Ryan and I met in 2003, when he worked at The Summit (WAPS-FM) and I was an intern,” Bates, 27, recalls. “He’s like, ‘Hey, I’ve got a band,’ and I’m like, ‘Hey, I’m a singer.’ ”
“And it’s all been downhill from there,” chuckles Humbert, who is 29 and a Green High School graduate.
ALBUM OF DUETS
The pair have a new CD titled “Tell Me What You See” that features 24 harmony-laden classics. Included are five Everly Brothers songs, among them “All I Have to Do Is Dream” and “When Will I Be Loved.”
Other songs include “Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel, “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, “Killing the Blues” by Robert Plant and Allison Krauss, “Chains” by The Beatles, “Save Your Heart For Me” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys, “We’re All Gonna Die Someday” by Kasey Chambers, “Dream Baby” by Roy Orbison and “Insider” by Tom Perry and Stevie Nicks.
Most of the album was recorded over 10 hours on a single blizzardy Saturday in early February. “It was really fun to be in the studio like that, all huddled up making this record in the middle of a giant snowstorm,” Humbert says.
Asked, in jest, why they didn’t record “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” or “Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong,” Bates laughs and says, “Once we get into the big movie power ballads, we’ll get on it.”
So how did they select the album’s diverse songs? “I’m kind of a music encyclopedia, for better or worse, and I’ll come across a song and think, ‘That might be a good duet,’ ” Humbert says.
A definite highlight of the album is “We’re Not the Jet Set,” a country novelty originally recorded by George Jones and Tammy Wynette. “Songs like that end up going over really well live,” Bates says. “There are a lot of slow, ballady songs on the CD. It’s fun to throw in something silly you can just enjoy.”
SAME VOICE, DIFFERENT OCTAVES
Bates, who grew up in Indiana, learned how to sing harmonies while listening to her father harmonize with songs on the car radio.
“I was never a harmony singer. Harmony was never something I even grasped,” Humbert says. “I learned all I know from Em. And, fortunately, we share a tonal quality.”
“We kind of have the same voice, just in different octaves,” Bates says. “We do a lot of flip-flopping.”
After joining the Ryan Humbert Band, Bates was inspired to learn to play guitar. “I wanted to become indispensable,” she says. “I figured the more I could do, the less likely they were to ditch me.”
“Emily is a very solid rhythm player,” Humbert says.
When Humbert and Bates do an acoustic duo show, it’s not unusual for him to show up at the venue with a list of new songs they’ve never rehearsed that he wants to play that night.
“He’ll say, ‘We should do this and you can follow along,’ ” Bates says. “It really used to drive me crazy, but now we kind of know what the other one is going to do.”
“We’re so comfortable with each other,” adds Humbert. “We surprise and impress each other on a regular basis.”
Canton Repository – Friday, October 31, 2008 BY DAN KANE
Ryan Humbert on the rise: New album recorded in Nashville has hit potential
Ryan Humbert is not the kind of ambitious fame-seeker who’d climb over you on his way to the top.
He’d more likely smile and shake your hand. His modus operandi is making friends, fans and connections.
The 27-year-old singer-songwriter, a Green High School grad, has an unwavering commitment to his music career that is impressive to behold.
“I like to tell people that I’m too smart to give up, but too dumb to quit,” he says. “Determination and hard work seem nowadays as important as having talent. I’m not going to give up.”
Since 2004, Humbert has released three solid albums of original material, and gigged extensively in this area with his self-titled rock band.
He was tapped by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to perform a dozen songs at a Roy Orbison tribute concert in Cleveland, attended by Orbison’s wife and children. He gave an inspired performance as Hank Williams in a Canton Cabaret stage production, performing 22 Williams songs in a re-created concert.
He has opened concerts for the diverse likes of Elvis Costello, Foreigner, the Gin Blossoms, Red Wanting Blue, Dave Mason and Josh Ritter, and he performed at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Chrissie Hynde’s Akron restaurant, Vegiterranean.
In March, he moved to Nashville, where he recorded a terrific, soon-to-be released album titled “Old Souls, New Shoes.” Even his longtime fans will be impressed by the strides Humbert has made.
BIG POP-ROCK SOUND
While his previous discs were steeped in rootsy Americana music, “New Shoes” is contemporary, infectious pop-rock with a big sound and major radio potential.
“I’m a big fan of catchy, short pop songs where you get in, you get out, nobody gets hurt,” Humbert says. “The idea was to make a record full of singles, but at the same time songs that work together on a record. We tried to jam-pack every song with hooks.”
With its soaring, heartfelt chorus, “Keeps Me Coming Back for More” sounds like an out-of-the-box mainstream radio hit. “People Standing Still” is a funky shuffle in the Maroon 5 vein; there’s even a guest rapper. The jaunty, piano-driven “Old Souls, New Shoes” recalls ’70s-era Elton John. The electro-dance number “Sideways” could be Scissor Sisters or Duran Duran; a Nashville deejay is preparing a dance mix.
“Even through I wear my influences on my sleeve, I feel that everything on the record sounds like me,” he says.
These songs and three others from the new album can be sampled in full at www.myspace.com/ryanhumbertband. WAPS-FM 91.3 (The Summit) in Akron has “Keeps Me Coming Back For More” and “Hand Me Down Heart” in regular rotation.
About relocating to Nashville, Humbert says, “I knew I wanted to make a pop-rock record and I wanted to go to the next level. I felt I’d pretty much done everything I could do in the Northeast Ohio area as far as progressing my career. I needed to go to a place where music is made.”
MAKING THE RECORD
“Old Souls, New Shoes” was recorded in April and May at Alex the Great studio in Nashville, with producer Eli “Lij” Shaw, who helped Humbert narrow more than 30 potential songs down to the final 14. Between them, the studio musicians on the album have worked with Counting Crowes, Black Crowes, Jakob Dylan, Seal, Third Eye Blind, Steve Earle, Toby Keith and the Dixie Chicks.
Prominently featured on the disc are two of Humbert’s band members and close friends, Emily Bates on backing vocals and Ben Evans on piano and organ.
“Emily and I have been singing together for probably six years. Our voices blend so well, we have the same tone,” Humbert says. “She’s a pretty quick study. In one night, she recorded harmonies for eight songs.” Evans plays on about 90 percent of the record.
On Nov. 14 at 9 p.m., Humbert will perform a free concert at the Kent Stage in Kent as part of the KSU Folk Festival. Copies of his new CD will be available for $10.
“We’re going to have a nine-piece band including a three-piece string section,” he says. “Three guitars, keys, drums, bass, three vocalists.”
LIFE IN NASHVILLE
In Nashville, Humbert pays $500 a month rent for the entire second floor of a 1890s house in East Nashville. “It’s one of the trendy parts of town. It’s where a lot of musicians live,” he says. There’s been a migration of sorts by Northeast Ohio singer-songwriters, among them Patrick Sweeney, Annie DeChant, Jessica Lee Mayfield, Steve McClain.
“It’s pretty laid-back here,” he says. “It’s a big city that has a small-town feel to it. It’s one of those places where people know each other. It’s not nearly as intimidating as it could be.”
Humbert has performed on New Faces Night at a Nashville club called The Basement. He just had a meeting that “went very, very, very well” with Nashville radio station Lightning 100, whose playlist includes the Killers, Weezer, Beck and the Raconteurs.
“I’m constantly meeting with people, everybody from publishers to record labels, anybody that might enjoy the record,” Humbert says. “It’s about getting the record to the right people. Literally, it’s all about who you know. I also need my fans to help spread the word about the new album. Play it for yours friends, add my songs to your MySpace page.
“The goal is to make ‘Old Souls’ the record people know me by. I intend to keep playing music for a long time.”