Ryan Lee Crosby
Ryan Lee Crosby was born in Maryland and raised in Virginia, close to where John Fahey founded the Takoma Records label. This connection is not insignificant when considering that in his current incarnation, many aspects of Crosby's sound can be traced to the Takoma Records 1966 compilation "Contemporary Guitar," which features the raw blues of Bukka White, the influence of raga on Max Ochs' acoustic instrumentals and the ethereal picking of Robbie Basho's 12 string. All of these elements form the foundation of Crosby's approach to electric 12 and 22 string Indian slide guitar on his upcoming Knick Knack Records debut album River Music.
The result of years of research, study and practice, River Music integrates sounds of Mississippi's hill country with North Indian raga and rhythms from Mali, performed on traditional instruments from those regions. For Crosby, who began a life in music playing blues harmonica before transitioning to singing his own songs and playing guitar in punk bands, there is no distinction between acoustic and electric, rural and urban or traditional and commercial. He hears the blues in Robert Belfour, just as he does in Iggy and the Stooges. He recognizes the sound of Lightnin' Hopkins in the guitar work of Mali's Boubacar Traoré and he feels raga in the vichitra veena of Pandit Gopal Krishan, as he also does in the diddley bo of Eddie "One String" Jones. And because Crosby was introduced to all of this music by way of Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin and the Beatles, for him the artistic quality is determined by the intention of the musician, not by the means through which it was released to the world.
To Ryan Lee Crosby, blues, punk, American folk songs and raga are all traditional forms of music that express shared values and foster a sense of unity in performance. Crosby is guided by the potential of music to connect the internal to the external and the individual to the community. Having not been raised in a particular tradition has led him to seek sounds that resonate with his essential nature and it is this search for resonance which has led him to find that the seemingly separate musical traditions of the world have much in common, just as all people do.
This aspiration to seek resonance with disparate cultures and traditions informs Crosby's drive to study with master musicians from around the globe as well as to perform his own music in as many countries and regions as possible. Since 2013, Ryan Lee Crosby has toured Europe annually, while also performing his songs in the US from the east to west coasts and as far down south as Clarksdale, Mississippi, where he was fortunate to not only perform, but also to listen at the feet of his hero in blues, Robert Belfour. Crosby has also learned blues guitar from Paul Rishell, the Cambridge based musician who played with and spent time around Son House, John Lee Hooker, Sonny Terry and many more icons of American roots music.
In recent years, Crosby's drive to deepen his understanding of sound from a technical, cultural and spiritual perspective has lead to regular studies in raga with internationally celebrated singer/composer Pandit Warren Senders, alongside annual meetings with the visionary Indian slide guitar guru Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya and also with African guitar Maestro Derek Gripper. Crosby balances this technical study with spiritual inquiry and development under the guidance of the gifted healer and yogi Tom Alden in Boston.
In 2018, Crosby will keep up his annual touring schedule in Europe, while adding concert dates for solo and band performances throughout in the US in 2019.