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Featured Artist of the Month

February 2021 - Ryne Clarke

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Ryne Clarke

About Ryne Clarke

Written by

Sue Clements

Ryne Clarke is kind of remarkable. In a recent conversation he shared that he’ll be 23 this summer and that “time is ticking by”. In what seems like a short time to me, Ryne has accomplished amazing things. Along with creating a variety of his own successful projects, he supports local musicians and works to connect the public to music in a broader sense.

Ryne was named after Hall of Fame Chicago Cubs player Ryne Sandberg. His parents enrolled him in little league, but he recalls that sports were not his thing. Music, however, is a sort of therapy for him. “Creating is essential to life in a way,” Ryne said. “I need to be working on some sort of new thing or project. I need to somehow keep moving.”

At around age 14, after spending time listening to old country albums of his grandfather’s, Ryne realized he wasn’t a huge fan of country. He was however, taken with the magic of vinyl recordings. As he started collecting albums suited to his taste, Ryne spent more and more time playing the guitar and ultimately writing his own songs. He calls his collection of around 1,100 albums, gathered as gifts and by poking around at thrift and antique shops, an addiction. Ryne feels that there is so much music out there available only on vinyl. Listening to records, he often gets inspired to create his own music.

Other than a few guitar chords shown to him by a friend and internet videos, Ryne’s pretty much self- taught. He describes playing around on the guitar, hearing something he likes and taking it from there. “You can do it if you are really determined and that’s what it comes down to,” he says. “Put a little bit of faith in yourself even if you don’t think you can do it.” Looking at his accomplishments, Ryne seems to follow his own advice.

Early Collaborations

Ryne’s first band, The Preservers, was formed in 2014 with friends from high school. Ryne describes that time as formative. “Playing with The Preservers gave me everything I needed to be myself in music. As a band we learned to jam, write songs, and play shows.”

The Preservers released their first album in 2016. Ryne stated, “Like most debut albums, we weren’t very fond of it.” A year later they came out with Made with Soy, which was an album they were proud of. The Preservers went different ways in 2017 when two of the original members went off to college.

It was at this time The Ryne Experience was formed. Ryne describes this current band as a collaboration / studio project made to keep him writing and recording music.

The band’s start was slow with few performances. They continued to jam and practice weekly. Things started to take off with the production of Hokey, The Ryne Experience’s first digital album. Hokey covered 14 tracks and was released in 2018. Twenty-three musicians worked together to give this record its unique and rich sound. Ryne experimented by playing bass, electric kazoo, and keys on this one.

Ryne describes his music as 60 percent instrumentals and 40 percent lyrical. To me, the song “Weird Blues” from this record reads like poetry.

I’ve got weird blues surrounding me; I can’t find my shoes or brush my teeth! And the train passes slowly by, its okay today

He describes these words as having a more personal content, with weird blues meaning that it doesn’t make sense, there's no real reason to feel depressed. Ryne’s simple words definitely get the message across.

More Recent Projects

The Ryne Experience’s next project Shopworn came out in 2019. This CD is ten Ryne penned songs, produced with just single takes. Guitars and vocals are live on this CD which was recorded at Ryne’s own Upstairs, Man Studios.

With the group’s current line-up, their music got tight. The band started getting attention and produced Funky Town in April of 2020, a six song EP. Funky Town, with all the songs written by Ryne, was eventually pressed into vinyl and funded through a Kickstarter project. It’s a psychedelic alt-country concept album about amnesia, love, loss, murder, and insanity, from The Funky Town CD release party that was to be held at The Pyramid Scheme was cancelled due to Covid restrictions.

What’s Ryne been up to Lately?

Homey, The Ryne Experience’s fourth major release came out in July 2020, and was also recorded at Upstairs, Man Studios. This six song EP was written and recorded during Michigan’s stay at home orders and has a line-up of just three musicians.

The Onion Tree, out December 2020, is their most recent release. Ryne is especially proud of this eleven song CD which he audio mixed himself. Described as psychedelic alt-country tunes, all but one was written by Ryne. The five guys on the cover make up the band today; Patrik Baney on drums, Mitchell Evink on bass, cello, and vocals, Kyle Kuhn on keys and vocals, Jerry Wenger on lead guitar, vocals, and bass, and Ryne doing a little bit of everything.

In a forward for this recording on, Cliff Yankovich describes Ryne, “Ever the musical inclusive, Clarke drew upon his constantly growing circle of collaborators, cronies, hobnobbers, and henchmen to fashion the musical journey upon which you embark herein.” Thirty-seven musicians collaborated to make this record.

Always working on some new project, Ryne is hoping to book a tour on the festival circuit. He hopes to record and produce albums for other musicians in his own recording studio, Upstairs, Man Studio, which has recently moved to a new space and added some new equipment.

Ryne also has a weekly radio show, For the Record Vinyl Radio, Sundays 12-3pm EST, on WRWW-LP 92.3 Lowell Radio.

You can find out more about Ryne on his website, which serves as a website for The Ryne Experience and much more. You’ll find music sessions from local bands, interviews of the people behind the music, album reviews, and a shop featuring merch from his own bands as well as that of other bands.

Near the end of our conversation, Ryne talked about music during this time when live performances are rarely happening. He said, “Music, the way it’s going you know, as long as people still have some sort of dream they want to achieve, I think it’s always going to be there.” Oh, did I mention he’s 22 years old?

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