Northeast Ohio singer-songwriter Ryan Humbert took off for Nashville last spring after making an impact as a major catalyst in the Akron music scene with his youthful energy and enthusiasm and his appealing pop-rock music. His goal was to expand his circle of contacts and produce a quality CD. He’s done both and now he’s back home for an undetermined period.
His album, Old Souls, New Shoes, which he’s released independently, is available through CD Baby and iTunes. And he’s got a full roster of area shows lined up through the summer so his old fans can check out his new songs live.
He’ll be playing at the Great American Rib Cookoff at Time Warner Cable Amphitheater at 4 p.m. this Saturday, and on June 3, he’ll open for Pete Yorn at House of Blues. Among the more intriguing shows on his schedule are a rooftop patio show at the Lockview (formerly the Lime Spider) in downtown Akron on June 6 (where he and former musical cohort Emily Bates will perform acoustic versions of songs by the Everly Brothers) and a show at the Kent Stage on July 24 with an acoustic band and string quartet. His website has a full schedule.
“Things went really well in Nashville,” says Humbert. “I worked with guys from Black Crowes, Third Eye Blind, Counting Crows. I found a producer [Eli “Lij” Shaw, who works as a recording engineer at Bonnaroo every year] who could really get my views across. I made a lot of great friends, but I realized to get to the next step, I wasn’t going to get signed in Nashville. Nashville is a great music city, but it’s not a great place to promote original pop music.”
So he decided to come home and play as much as he could, building on his established following to branch out into nearby markets like Columbus and Pittsburgh, while his lawyer in Los Angeles took his music to people in the business.
“I can spend less money to live, make money playing shows and expand my fan base,” says Humbert. “I wasn’t planning on playing as much as we are, but my phone keeps ringing, and they’re great opportunities. We’re playing a lot of festivals. They’re going to put us in front of a lot of people who haven’t seen us before. We have a great fan base here, but now we need to grow that fan base.” —Anastasia Pantsios