Ryan Webster’s Point of Pointlessness
Back in 2009 when I was living in a little valley north of San Diego, there wasn’t much live music except the annual bluegrass festival, some fusion jazz at the wineries and the occasional busker working the farmer’s market. In another small town next to mine, a New Jersey singer songwriter named Davie Gayle was looking for someplace to play music herself, and also to create a space for others to come together. And so began the Friday Night Writers, a once a month showcase of local talent at the local coffeehouse. They were mostly young kids, in their teens and twenties and some of it was just okay, some was good and a bit of it was amazing.
I began dropping in as much as I could, made friends with a bunch of the musicians and wrote about some of them right here. There was a core group of them that I connected with and still keep in touch. All are involved in music in some way…Ashlee has an album coming soon that she came to New York to record and she plays the So Cal coffeehouse scene when she’s not delivering babies. Brandon manages a donut shop I think, and sometimes joins Ashlee at the same places on the same nights, and Holly moved to Seattle, got herself married and works at a local department store. Her website is still active, and sometimes she threatens a return to performing.
The Friday Night Writers pops up every now and then in different spots, but the original coffeehouse closed down last May. Davie wrote, “I’m beyond grateful that we had this moment in time to share what we love these last few years right here in this little place. I’ve met so many great friends in music and in life and will cherish our memories together on the little stage with no spotlight.”
A few months before we moved to New York in the summer of 2012, my oldest son and I dropped in one night after a Mexican dinner, where we listened to mariachi music and I spent five bucks to hear a pretty good “Volver Volver”. The coffeehouse was packed that night, and we sat toward the back at a small table with a couple and child that we’d never seen there before. Looked a bit older than the other folks, a touch of ink, maybe some extra piercing. Maybe not. Ashlee was just finishing her set when she called up the dude to the stage and Ryan Webster delivered a short but stunning set. She brought him back to the table, introduced us and later he tracked me down. We’ve kept in touch and been confidants ever since. Friendship in the new millennium. And the guy has the best gossip and updates on the kids.
His songs are an interesting lot. Some are folk and roots, some rock harder, some are like distant cousins of things I listened to forty years ago and each one stands strong on it’s own. A novice he is not. Some of you may have heard his music, and not known it. He’s spent a few years years off and on writing songs for television placement…General Hospital, Revenge and Ghost Whisperer are three I know of. Got an interesting story too…
Ryan was born in Rochester New York, and raised thirty minutes west in Brockport. “It’s an old port town that’s located along the Erie Canal. So as you can imagine, cold long winters, beautiful green summers. Pretty perfect. I had pretty humble beginnings, my dad worked, my mom stayed at home with me and my brother. I come from a musical family, and was raised going to church, so I started playing piano and writing my own songs at around the age of five. Around eleven, I started learning drums, and from there I taught myself how to play bass and guitar.”
Raised in an evangelical Christian household where secular music wasn’t allowed, Ryan got exposed to a wide variety of new music in his late teens before he left home for the town of Cleveland, Tennessee, and the faith-based Lee University. A well-ranked and respected institution, he applied to the music program with an emphasis in classical guitar, with minors in piano and theology (both of which were required). He backed the choir, joined the jazz band, traveled and performed with them, was scorching the shelves of the local indie record stores and exposing himself to anything and everything, went to Brooklyn, met his future wife, played a festival gig in Germany and moved to Houston where he interned for a Christian record label.
Following all this?
He plays in Christian artist Jeremy Riddle’s band, hits the road, moves to California, gives twenty-year old Marcus Mumford (his wife’s childhood friend) his ID so he can get into bars, gets a real estate appraiser license, moves back to New York, starts a family…fourth kid named Roscoe is the latest…moves back to California and meets me.
And releases this album.
The Point of Pointlessness. He, or somebody at his label, calls it “a 10-song retro-funky-rock expression of existential angst with reprieves found in moments of Americana and folk.” There was a release party and gig at the the House of Blues on Sunset in Hollywood, and I think sometimes Ryan hooks up with some of the ol’ kids and plays coffeehouses around the OC/LA landscape. The album was produced by Emmy-award winning songwriter-producer, Bobby Hartry who enlisted some of LA’s finest musicians, including Aaron Sterling on drums (John Mayer, Civil Wars, Glen Campbell), Jonathan Ahrens on bass (Jewel, Jason Mraz), and Greg Liesz on pedal steel (Ray LaMontagne, Wilco, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Iver).
The album is available worldwide via: iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, e-Music, and Ryan’s official website which is as understated, barren and non-informative as any I’ve ever visited: www.ryanwebstermusic.com
Just sayin’ dude’….
As you can tell, this wasn’t and isn’t a review. I’ve sprinkled his songs all over for you to hear and absorb, as that is what his music deserves. And he’s put together a video of sorts, I think…whatever it is…I dig it. I’ll give the man the final word, and then I’m out of here.
“I moved around a lot; I did a lot of growing up as a result of it. Being on the road cleanses the soul, it’s almost a religious rite, and it puts you out in nature alone with your thoughts. Quiet is crucial to the writing process…. the concept of “The Road” and open space is a common thread throughout my songwriting, the idea that the road purifies the soul, and can bring clarity and forgiveness.”