Featured Artist of the Week – Ryan T. Briggs

 ryantbriggs.jpg

 Bio:

It could have been his father taking him to the Kerrville Folk Festival year after year.  It could be tied to the mysterious ability of West Texas’ expansive skies and gusty flatlands to spawn decades of musical creativity.  Maybe it was witnessing first-hand the upheaval of thousands of lives in one of the biggest financial scandals in history.  Whatever gave Ryan T Briggs the inspiration to carve a life of playing music, those who have seen him live or heard his debut CD can agree his chances are favorable.

 
2007 Texas Music Awards’ “Rising Star of the Year”, Ryan T Briggs has been charming audiences across Texas since college at Texas Tech.  His clean acoustic pickin’ style, alluring vocals, and fun and masterful lyrical design have kept his loyal fan base locked in, even during a 4 year absence in which he finished school and worked for The Man in Houston.  After quitting the corporate gig, spending 2 years on a music degree (South Plains College, Levelland), and building an established band in Lubbock, Briggs moved to Austin and released his debut CD, LeT iT RoLL Summer 2006.  Quickly gaining momentum with increased publicity, greater tour coverage, and rising CD sales, Ryan T Briggs & the Redneck Hippies continue touring Texas in 2007 to promote the album.  

  The album, produced by Mark Addison (Honeybrowne, Guy Forsyth, Redd Volkaert, Ian Moore), combines the best of what Briggs has to offer.  Briggs’ country and bluegrass influences, combined with Addison‘s eclectic, rock, and blues backgrounds, resulted in a CD that truly has a unique and genuine sound.  With nine original songs (of eleven tracks), it can be described as a country record with a twist of grass and a shot of blues. 

The song subjects are varied: moving Las Vegas, Nevada to Lubbock via double wide trailer, the contradictions of being a “redneck hippie”, falling off a bridge in Austin and deciding to swim to the Gulf of Mexico, lost love, finding love, difficult neighbors, a drinking billy-goat politician, trains, soldiers, growing up, and rolling with the punches.  With instrumentation from some of Austin’s finest, including Redd Volkaert, Eddie Rivers (Asleep at the Wheel), and Warren Hood, including flattop pickin’ by Briggs, LeT iT RoLL has been received very favorably both domestically and on the international front. 

Something about West Texas inspires folks to pick up a guitar.  Although always a singer and songwriter, when Briggs left his hometown of Katy for Lubbock in 1996, he had yet to discover he was a guitar enthusiast.  It was in the dorms his freshman year at Texas Tech that he would go to the laundry room in the middle of the night to hack out his first song, written by Robert Earl Keen.  By 1999, he was fronting his first band, The Texas Armadillos, at The Blue Light, a local honky-tonk. 

The temporary halt to Briggs’ musicianship and growing popularity came upon college graduation in 2001.  He took a job with Arthur Andersen (Houston), where he was greeted by the biggest international accounting scandal in history with the fall of Enron Corporation.  Watching from the front row as “corporate excess” took its toll on thousands; he became disenchanted with the allure of the corporate world.  Songwriting and pickin’ once again became the centerpiece of his attention, and he soon decided to get out of accounting for a career in the music business.  

Briggs quit his day job in 2003 and trucked back to the birthplace of his infatuation with music – West Texas.  He enrolled in the music program at South Plains College (Alma matter of his former band and many other notable artists, including Lee Ann Womack, Natalie Maines, Doug Moreland, and Dub Miller) to study music theory and surround himself with musicians once again.  “For a long time I wrote songs and ‘strummed’ my guitar, but I wanted to become a real picker,” says Briggs.  “…and I had no idea what I was going to discover that would help me the most: bluegrass.  God Bless Mark Hill (of Lubbock’s Hotfoot Toby) and [SPC instructors] Alan Munde and Joe Carr for introducing me to bluegrass!  Now I know what a flattop guitar is for.”

Briggs spent 2 years living in Levelland, dragging his band around to almost every country music venue in Lubbock.  West Texas once again proved to be a great training ground, just as it has for countless musicians for decades.  After studying country and bluegrass, music theory, lead guitar, and flatpicking, he headed to Austin, armed with a newfound respect for musical composition. 

Within a year, Briggs completed his first album and began putting together his new band. In March 2006, he met Joel Weinstein (Pedal Steel/Dobro), who has since become a major force, both musically and promotionally, in the rapid progression of the band. The two began playing around Austin while they worked to fill the remaining positions. By the end of 2006, Ryan and the group had a fairly respectable start for the Austin area, with 65 shows. In March 2007 they were awarded “Rising Star of the Year” at the Texas Music Awards. With album sales on the rise, a growing fan base, exposure at some of Texas’ best venues, and increasing publicity, Ryan T Briggs & the Redneck Hippies are making a mark on Texas Music.  Look for them to hit your town soon!

Interview:

TRD: Who do you consider your influences?

RTB: Willie, Clapton, Townes, Haggard, Robert Earl, Kenny Rogers, Elvis,

The Beach Boys, Ricky Skaggs, Dwight, Pat, Cash

 

TRD: What was your first Gig?

RTB: Whistlin’ Dixie BBQ in Lubbock. I sang through a fender practice amp, and played my acoustic through another one. It was probably awful. But my friends would come out in droves (most likely for the $1 schooners), so they kept asking us back. Thank goodness for the friends who give you confidence in the beginning.

 

TRD:  What groups or singers do you listen to now?

RTB: I’m always still listening to the influences above. In addition, my current playlist in the truck includes Doug Moreland, Alan Munde, Buck Owens, Hank III, Bob Wills, Pizza Tapes (Garcia, Grisman, Rice)…and shall I admit this one?…Phantom of the Opera.

 

TRD:  What is your favorite venue you have performed at? Why?

RTB: Lately I’d have to say Armadillo Palace in Houston. That’s mainly because I’m from the Houston Area and I get to see old friends.

 

TRD: If you could perform only 1 more show, anywhere in the world, where
would you want to play? Why?

RTB: I’d play Houston. I admit my first thoughts were London…or Central Park…but for my last show EVER I’d really like to see the folks that were there from the beginning out there under the lights.

 

TRD: What is your favorite song you have recorded? Why?

RTB: “Fly”, because it was so natural. I wrote the song during production. The lyrics, form, and chord progression for the most part did not change from the moment I wrote the song to what you hear on the CD. And I remember that the instrumentation fell in place just as easily, as though the pickers had grown up with the song.

TRD: When you’re not performing what do you like to do with your spare time?

RTB: I’d say about 75% of the time not performing is spent on tasks related to the performance! After that I either try to see as many friends and family that I can, or I go solo and shut off for a while.

 

TRD: If you could perform with any other artist, who would you like to
share the stage with? Why?

RTB: At first I thought, “Tough question.” Then it hit me like a book…hands down, Willie…no doubt. That’s because he is the first singer I think I ever heard…it was in that 1970s van with a table in it. I knew the words to “Mommas Don’t…” before I could ask for applesauce. My Dad is a singer and player, and he’s always singing Willie. And then there’s this weird feeling that maybe he’s some long lost uncle. I don’t get star struck, and

I think people are just people, but Willie’s got magic that I would love to feel on stage.

 

Discography:

  • Let It Roll (2006)

Tour:

2007-09-08 – Swiss Alp DancehallSchulenburg, Texas
2007-09-15
Blue Gene’sBandera, Texas
2007-09-21Lone Star SaloonUvalde, Texas
2007-09-27Anderson FairHouston, Texas
2007-10-0241st Annual Original Terlingua International Championship Chili CookoffTerlingua, Texas
2007-10-05
Iguana GrillAustin, Texas
2007-10-06
Retama ParkSchertz, Texas
2007-10-07
2007 Rockport SeafairRockport, Texas
2007-10-12
Pineywoods FairNacagdoches, Texas
2007-10-13
Grisby GrillHouston, Texas
2007-10-19
Lost-N-Found BarLuling, Texas

Enjoy! And check back next week when our featured artist is the Chute Nine

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Published in: on September 9, 2007 at 9:59 am  Leave a Comment  

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