Ryan Shupe

REVIEW: Ryan Shupe & The RubberBand – Live Vol. II


Ryan Shupe & The RubberBand – Live Vol. II

This 18-cut live CD is exquisitely recorded. Faultless tight playing that shines from mandolin picking to thudding drums. The instruments are all captured with clarity. Embodied here are songs that display imagination, energy & sophistication. I wonder if the late Bill Monroe, father of bluegrass, ever envisioned his child to grow up & deliver such rousing, riveting music.

One thing is certain, Ryan Shupe & RubberBand have taken their bluegrass through different schools of influences, refined, pasteurized & homogenized the melodies – to wonderful results. The Utah-based band has released 8 previous LPs to accolades.

Ryan Shupe is a fifth-generation fiddle player (lead vocals/mandolin/electric guitar) who incorporates fragments of country, rock, folk, jazz, rap, & other styles. Blends them diluted into the thick molasses of bluegrass & the band cooks.

Live Vol. II (Tydal Wave Records-Drops Aug 20) includes their most popular tunes.

Ryan Shupe

“Rain Falls Down,” has a Dave Matthews tinge in its performance. Fueled nicely by impeccable playing. There are also “sounds” that emanate strongly (“The Sun Will Shine Again”) from masterful veteran bands more in a Euro-folk/rock tradition: The Oysterband (“Cry, Cry” “Street of Dreams”), Spirit of the West (“Five Free Minutes” – a tradition now carried on solo by a marvelous former member multi-instrumentalist Linda McRae), & Great Big Sea (“When I’m Up – I Can’t Get Down”). Any band that could be compared favorably to any of these bands is a strong vibrant outfit. And that is a strong compliment. Ryan Shupe & his troop qualifies.

Lots to enjoy here – even for the uninitiated. Some may come off as saloon songs, others good time songs sanded smooth. What is value-added is that through Ryan’s voice you can hear the fanciful enjoyment he radiates through his singing. It resonates, it’s infectious & will work better than valium on someone who is blue (“Corn Dogs”) is an example. There’s little here that’s a confection. The CD has a breezy rain of acoustics, engaging & accessible.

Even a more novelty-oriented “Shih Tzu” & “Banjo Boy,” come off tight & convincing. The energetic “If I Stay,” with additional dynamic banjo picking by Craig Miner shines. The catchiest track commercially is “Even Superman,” with its chiming fiddles, husky drums, & exuberance. “Oh, How I Miss You,” reminds me of the rollicking vocal & melodic style of the late South African singer Johnny Clegg who was mesmerizing with his band Julukka on “Scatterlings of Africa.”

There’s the consistent interplay between instruments nimbly trips along in an attractive manner, one instrument answering another. “Take Me Home,” is the poignant tune that is sensitive & intimate. 


Players: Roger Archibald (guitar/BGV), Josh Larsen (bass/electric & upright bass), Craig Miner (banjo/mandolin/electric guitar/Bouzouki/BGV), Nate Young (drums/BGV), Ryan Tilloy (electric bass on 2 cuts), & Bart Olson (drums on 2 cuts).

Ryan Shupe & band images courtesy of Ryan’s website. The 1-hour-14-minute CD was produced by Ryan Shupe & available @ https://ryanshupe.com/

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