Ryan Lee Crosby
Ryan Lee Crosby is unlocking “a new road to both a global audience and personal awakening with inspiration in [the blues.]" -Michael Marotta, Vanyaland
With an intercontinental band, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Lee Crosby blends essences of American folk-blues and North Indian raga into meditative songs of impermanence, compassion and joy. Crosby’s music is a pleasing mix of improvised and composed material, performed on traditional and modern instruments. Through his recordings and performances, Crosby hopes to inspire peace, openness and respect - for tradition, for culture, for each other and for one’s self.
River Music, Crosby’s sixth full-length album, will be available on LP and CD on 10/10/18, co-released by Germany’s CosiRecords Schallplatten and Seattle’s Knick Knack Records. The result of years of study and practice, River Music integrates blues from the hill country of North Mississippi with textures of North Indian Hindustani classical raga music. Crosby performs on electric 12-string guitar and chaturangui (the 22-string Indian slide guitar designed by Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya) and is joined by fretless guitar, tabla, harmonica and calabash (West African percussion). The raga influence is heard through the band’s hypnotic, almost trance-like motifs, and the blues seeps through Crosby’s dynamic vocals and masterful, single-line guitar melodies.
Crosby describes himself as a ‘seeker’ within the music: producer and listener, performer and enthusiast, teacher and student. Crosby’s music-making is an inward process: creativity through meditation, devotion and discipline, but it is also oriented around community-building. As a bandleader, Crosby is guided by the potential of music to connect the internal to the external, the individual to the group, and to bridge seemingly disparate cultures and traditions.
Crosby has evolved through many musical incarnations. His musical life began by playing harmonica at age 13, before transitioning into a punk-rock teenager, singing his own songs and playing guitar in local bands. Crosby moved to the Boston area in 1998, where he has recorded numerous albums as a rock musician and singer-songwriter. Crosby was first introduced to raga in his teenage years through George Harrison’s songs with the Beatles, and by Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan’s recordings. He credits Robbie Basho’s albums and the compilation Contemporary Guitar (Takoma Records) for inspiring him to fuse fingerstyle blues with raga music in his compositions.
Crosby seeks to deepen his understanding of sound from technical, cultural and spiritual perspectives. He studies Hindustani raga with internationally celebrated singer/composer Pandit Warren Senders, alongside annual meetings with the visionary Indian slide guitar guru Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya and African guitar Maestro Derek Gripper. Crosby has also studied blues guitar with Paul Rishell, the Massachusetts-based musician who played with Son House, John Lee Hooker, Sonny Terry and many more icons of American roots music. Crosby balances this technical study with spiritual inquiry and development under the guidance of the gifted healer and yogi Tom Alden in Boston.
Ryan Lee Crosby has been nominated for two Boston Music Awards and was named “Best Singer/Songwriter” in the 2006 Boston Phoenix/WFNX Radio Music Poll. He composed and performed the film score for the award-winning documentary Racing the Rez (2012, broadcast nationally on PBS). Crosby tours Europe annually and select US regions. He currently lives in Medford, Massachusetts and performs regularly in the greater Boston area.