Ryan Scott

Ryan Scott

BandAlternativeAvant-garde

Ryan Scott is a triple-threat: a guitar player with chops to rival Scofield coupled with a beautiful, airy voice and sharp songwriting skills. He ranges through airy, acoustic-driven songs, bouncy Steely Dan era-jazz, meditative lullabies and Buckleyesque material with a hard, dark edge.

Biography

If there’s one feeling Ryan Scott wants to create with his debut disc, Smoke & Licorice, it’s the feeling of escapism. He wants us to slip out of reality, to lose ourselves for a moment, because that’s exactly what he was trying to do when writing the songs. “I want to get the listener to the point where their mind is turned off, a kind of Zen emptiness. You know, Michael Jordan would call it "the zone" -- I’m looking for paths to get there.”

And that makes sense. Smoke & Licorice is an album about a young man trying to figure things out, looking for answers, creating his own voice while honing his ample skills, trying to find peace within himself and a path to live his life. The album is a journey, a scrapbook built up over many years, and Scott’s inviting listeners to experience that with him.

Raised around the Bay Area and Central Coast of California, Scott’s introduction to music began with his discovery of a nylon-string guitar given to his mom as a child. Delving into the likes of Leo Kottke, Eric Clapton and Doc Watson as a youth, Scott’s early teens brought him an electric guitar and the joys of Van Halen, Metallica and Nirvana — and the Blues, which became his sole focus for several years. Forming his first band at 12 (and soon gigging at local bars in the Monterey area), he played from the songbook of Freddie King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and other greats. But the Blues led him in many other directions, from the exploration of jamband giants like the Allman Brothers Band, to funk and jazz, and ultimately, to two of his greatest inspirations: the avant guitarists John Scofield and Bill Frisell.

By 1999, Scott’s prodigious guitar skills had taken him to the Monterey Jazz Festival and to numerous festivals in Europe and Japan. In 2001, the then-eighteen-year-old moved to New York. “I knew about one and a half people, but I started meeting like-minded players within about a week.” He sat in all over town, often skateboarding across town from jam session to jam session (a particularly difficult feat with a guitar on your back). Scott soon crossed paths with personal heroes like guitarist Peter Bernstein, as well as other East Coast musicians that he admired while still in Northern California. “I was a huge fan of Chris Cheek while I was in high school, and now he's on this record. I feel very lucky to have met so many amazing musicians here. I've managed to put together my dream band."

While entrenching himself in the jazz world – in addition to Scofield and Frisell, he considers Bruce Forman a significant influence and cites Jim Hall, Sonny Rollins and Sonny Stitt as additional inspirations -- Ryan began to sing again, something he had abandoned along with his teen Blues band. After scoring a regular gig at the Anyway Café in the Lower East Side, his voice and songs coalesced. Blending his vocal influences, which ranged from Elliott Smith to Randy Newman to Marvin Gaye, Scott began writing songs that owed something to jazz, R & B, 70s rock, and singer/songwriter records, but didn’t borrow directly from any of them. “I tried not to write with any genre in mind,” he says. “But I did try to combine interesting, jazz harmonies and chord changes with a more of a pop thing, something where the musicianship came through -- a pop record with dudes that can really play.”

Bringing this goal to life are a cast of friends/peers/neighbors, all of whom Scott met playing jazz in New York: cellist Christopher Hoffman, organist/pianist/keyboardist Ben Stivers, percussionist Matt Kilmer and drummer Bill Campbell, bassist Matt Pavolka, violinist/vocalist Christina Courtin, and aforementioned saxophonist Chris Cheek.

Smoke & Licorice is thus the formal unveiling party for the avant-guitarist turned singer/songwriter, who has carefully melded all of his musical interests into a mélange of sound. Throughout the disc, a gentle, airy, acoustic-driven song may dip ever so slightly into bouncy, jazz piano-inflected changes, only to float right on out of it the next moment. Other tracks are meditative lullabies, and still other tracks have a dark and hard edge -- but they’ll surprise you with oddball instrumentation, like when a distorted baritone sax plays the role of an electric guitar.

Lyrically, Scott ranges through a vast territory too, from the deeply personal to the directly political. In “Harmony,” he yearns for peace of mind while engulfed by the buzz and lights of New York City; in the poetic “Unrequited,” meanwhile, his breath is taken away by a passing beauty: “It’s about seeing someone on the street and projecting things about how it could be.” In “Kill Another Day,” he takes a hard look at himself. “That’s about loneliness and alcoholism, and not getting what one wants. There’s real anger in there.” One could surmise that “Kill Another Day” would be as publicly confessional as anyone would care to be, but Ryan disagrees. “A lot of the songs on the album are just as personal a

Lyrics

Harmony

Written By: Ryan Scott

I don’t wanna play the game
maybe I’ll just move away and change my name
if it’s all the same to you then I’ll go and
leave you behind
tried it once or twice before
thought this time was different walking through
your door, if it’s all the same to you
then let’s try it some other time

once again
we’ve come to an end, my friend
forgive me

let’s assume I’ve done you wrong
you’ve got me cornered but I won’t be here for long
if there’s anything you’d like to do you can get
back at me

can’t explain quite how I feel
just not time enough for me to keep it real, I’m in
need of time alone to collect what’s inside my dome

we’d be singing in harmony
what a beautiful place to be
but I’m filled with anxiety
I’ll hurt you, you’ll hurt me
life is not what it could be

once again
we’ve come to an end, my friend
forgive me

5 O'Clock News

Written By: Ryan Scott

Gonna clean up my act today
stop smoking
just realized I’m overweight
stop drinking, stop eating

what would u expect me to do?
in the midst of these summertime blues
I saw u on the five o’clock news
In the sweater your mother had knitted for me

gonna give all my shit away
start living
gonna go where the turtles play
deep waters, still waters
what would you expect me to do?
blow a kiss just like you always do
you’ll catch it, and I’ll step on a plane
to an island where nobody knows my name

I saw u on the 5 o’clock news
just the other day
I saw u on the 5 o’clock news
in the sweater your mother had knitted for me

You Might Change Your Mind

Written By: Ryan Scott

writing this letter’s taken so long
it’s just a poem maybe a song
for u to sing and dance and play
‘til the morning comes up with the sun

loosen your grip just try and let go
sooner or later your gonna know
that it’s not worth it if you’re trying
to hold the world in your palm

dripping down it’s cool and cold
shive down your spine
sand in your hand falls right out
u might change your mind
better luck next time

that kind of style seems to be cool
if it were me I might change the rules
and make sure that they know that
these are the people ‘bout to make u move

dripping down it’s cool and cold
shive down your spine
sand in your hand falls right out
u might change your mind
better luck next time

u might change your mind
u might change your mind

Riding A Cloud

Written By: Ryan Scott

the clouds recede, light blue is the sea
look at my watch, it’s turning ‘round me
people believe, amazing theory
two meant to be, but not really

flying so high just you and I
riding a cloud up in the sky
really it’s all just in my mind
really it’s all just in my mind

these pouty eyes, they draw me to
you
electric flow, my head to your toes
and when it stops I don’t want to see
cover my eyes, and opening

flying so high just you and I
riding a cloud up in the sky
really it’s all just in my mind
really it’s all just in my mind

flying so high just you and I
riding a cloud up in the sky
really it’s all just in my mind
really it’s all just in my mind

Love Thy Neighbor

Written By: Ryan Scott

why must my conscience bleed?
picking up the paper
and an undeserving youth is put behind bars
but the white ones walking
disgust it overflows from every pore upon my body
injustice everywhere
those who have enough they needn’t care

all I hear is of these trivial pursuits
and when I start to walk away
friends can’t believe I look so darkly at it
and what am I to do
their exists no path to remedy what seems to be
the only problem worthy of distressing

keep writing songs about it
can’t get my arms around it
you TV tells u to fear me

take a look at your neighbor, his face
would u put him away to save yourself?
don’t be fooled when you’re told to behave
because hell is here

I’m looking right into her eyes and to the carelessness
of daddy’s little girl who’s eaten every meal from
a silver platter
revolving carousel
changing hands and greasy palms
with nonchalance and blindness
in a microcosm of the past

hopefully these words might motivate or irritate
or shed some light or piss u off
this emotion is what’s needed from u
before u turn this off
just have a seat right here
and give some thought to what u really should believe

keep writing songs about it
can’t get my arms around it
you TV tells u to fear me

take a look at your neighbor, his face
would u put him away to save yourself?
don’t be fooled when you’re told to behave
because hell is here

You, Girl

Written By: Ryan Scott

tender sighs
put me to sleep
high and floating
up by the moon there I am there’s no air
I can’t talk, I can’t breathe
I can’t think
asking, what’s this feeling?

don’t you know it’s

you, girl
and it’s you girl
and it’s you girl
and it’s you girl

looking out
through the window
I have a dream of living
dancing around
up on the ceiling

don’t know it’s

you, girl
and it’s you girl
and it’s you girl
and it’s you girl

keep me hanging on

Lullaby

Written By: Ryan Scott

come tomorrow, when I wake
start all over again
might I borrow, just three words
I won’t give them away

counting sheep
as they leap
off to sleep

we all need a place to go
to get warm when it’s cold
and a hand to hold our own
when we grow to be old

please hold mine
just a rhyme
lullaby

it’s written in the stars
secrets on the wrinkles on your face
the place

when it comes tomorrow, I’ll be there

Sounds

Written By: Ryan Scott

I don’t know where I’ve come from
I don’t know where I’m going
but I do know this, ignorance is bliss

they say I’m young and able
their belts are on the table
it’s a do or don’t
it’s a cloud of smoke

let me disappear
sounds get to your ears
loud and clear

It’s all been planned and scripted
by heroes once depicted
someone asked me why
shocking alibi

she says you’ve lost perspective
your brain is not connected
it’s a do or don’t,
it’s a fucking joke

let me disappear
sounds get to your ears
loud and clear

I don’t know where I’ve come from
I don’t know where I’m going
but I do know this, ignorance is bliss

Kill Another Day

Written By: Ryan Scott

threw my nickel to the wishing well
shot in the dark from the depths of hell
never quite knew what it meant ‘till now
this fate’s been sealed
this card’s been played

the lights go out, I’m still awake
just hiding away

work for money, never get paid
while all the pricks in the world get laid
so just stop before you even start

waiting for that marvelous day
birds will sing, take my pain away
in a bottle buried underground
and Georgie buys another round

the lights go out, I’m still awake
just hiding away
drink as many as it takes
to kill another day

Unrequited

Written By: Ryan Scott

a gap along the dotted line
a skip upon a beat of time
when my heart can feel your away
it’s tendency to ache
is more than
I think I can take

and when this rift has
opened and closed, opened and closed
the needle jumps and I can see us
hear us

frolicking through foreign lands
picnicking in fields of grass
traveling to the moon and back
hoping that we’ll float away to

a place I only see in dreams
where love is king, contentment queen
but instead
now I’m at the bar once again
won’t let me smoke my cigarette
and if her boots materialize
I’ll make my exit through that door

and when this rift has opened and closed, opened and closed
the needle jumps and hits the limit

hits the limit

drink your medicine, feel okay
cause I can see

oh, not that again, not today
cause it’s not me

heaven is coming clear
it’s almost nearly here
heaven is coming clear
it’s almost near

I Think I Love You

Written By: Ryan Scott

oooh, I need you so bad
best thing I ever had
it’s me that you understand
I understand you

Sometimes you terrify me
I’m like a cat up a tree
I swear if you ever leave
I might die

I think I love you

I had a picture in mind
I thought it so hard to find
quite a mountain to climb
I found you

I think I love you

babe when I’m looking at you
there’s nothing I’d rather do
had my doubts, had a few
I wanna kiss you

I think I love you

Why I Cry

Written By: Ryan Scott

tears roll down my cheeks
in a nation ruled by
corporate thieves
tears roll down my chin
it’s our president and
his republicans

if this nightmare were to end
all is lost
and if it all begins again
I have some hope

tears roll down my nose
in a nation ruled by
checks with O’s
tears roll down my cheeks
I’m so sad to see
history repeat

if this nightmare were to end
all is lost
and if it all begins again
I have some hope
music frees us
music frees us
music frees us
music frees us

and I cry, and I cry
and I cry, and I cry
and I cry, and I cry
and I cry, and I cry

music frees us
music frees us
love can save us all

Discography

5 O'Olock News (2004 / Crystal Top Music)
Smoke and Licorice (2007 / Velour)

Set List

50 - 75 minutes standard. Set list varies depending on show needs, but generally consists of Scott originals with one or two covers. Advance with management.