By Chase Rheam
STILLWATER, Okla. —
After three years, a Stillwater musician’s work on a full-length album has come to fruition.
“Light It Up” by Ryan Reid was released April 3. Reid described the album as “self-realization” and said he’s always seeking answers when it comes to life.
“I try to have a good time and I wouldn’t be making records if I didn’t think I had something to say,” he said. “It all depends on the moment, really. This record that just came out, it runs the gamut. It’s just my life at the time. It’s me looking at other situations and putting myself in that situation, whether it’s happy or sad.”
While he can delve into the darker tones of life, he said, there’s enough darkness in the world. That’s part of the reason for the album’s title.
Reid’s interest in music began when he was about 7 years old and would sit a piano and try to figure out notes.
“Feet dangling from a piano bench and you’ve got me right there,” Reid said.
He couldn’t play the piano very well then and that’s much the same today, he said. Switching from piano to guitar was a natural transition, however, he said.
“Whenever it comes to playing, I’m not a finesse player,” Reid said. “It’s more about the emotion. It’s more about the feeling than hitting the perfect note.”
He recalls hearing a guitar string being bent just enough to be in tune. He was intrigued.
“It starts off wrong,” Reid said. “It ends right. And that feeling I connect with there, I think that was the natural progression.”
Years later, as he attended Oklahoma State University, Reid made his public performance debut at a local venue.
“As a matter of fact, I think one of my first shows was at Eskimo Joe’s, and they were doing this open mic thing on, I think, a Wednesday night or something like that, and somebody approached me about playing,” he said.
He put together a group of performers and did the show. After that, he was hooked, he said. He began to play more shows and eventually took his talents to The Big Apple in 2002. He remained there for three years.
“I learned what it’s like to be hungry,” Reid said. “I learned what it’s like to want more. I learned what it’s like to be brand new in an old city. I just learned a lot of different lessons.”
After returning to Oklahoma, he picked back up on school at the University of Oklahoma, where he graduated with a degree in classical culture in 2007. During his studies, he worked on his first recording — an EP titled “Home”.
“That was more along a love note, just something that I had to get off my chest,” Reid said.
After moving back to Stillwater, he has been working on “Light It Up” over the past three years.
He said he has been impressed with atmosphere Stillwater provides.
“There’s so many cool people from here and the vibe and energy in Stillwater is like no other, honestly,” he said.
The Ryan Reid Band comprises Reid, Stan Shook on bass, Kyle Villines on guitar and Joshua Stevenson on drums.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have an eclectic group of people around me, but also very willing, very humble people who are great musicians,” Reid said.
He said he enjoys playing live shows.
“I love it,” he said. “It’s more the people. Without them, nothing matters. And because of them we are able to do what we do. I’m of the opinion that it’s our privilege to be there performing for them.”
He said he is influenced in his songwriting and performing by a number of people including Jeff Buckley, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Sam Cooke and Otis Redding.
“Life is the biggest influence, but musically speaking, I listen to everything,” Reid said. “Good music is good music.”
While Stillwater is well known for being the birthplace of Red Dirt music, Reid said he classifies any and all musicians from Oklahoma to fit that bill.
He notes musicians such as Stoney LaRue and Cody Canada in the same breath as the All-American Rejects, Taddy Porter and Other Lives.
“We all walk around with Red Dirt on our shoes, so wherever we go we take that with us,” Reid said.
While he considers himself a rock and roll musician, he would be honored to be considered a Red Dirt artist, he said.
No matter how his music is viewed, Reid has goals and a plan and said he’s fortunate to have the right people around him. He said everyone from tour crew to his label to his band mates helps him make it happen.
As far as the future of Reid and his music is concerned, sit back and watch, he said.
“Honestly, I’d just rather show people,” he said. “Instead of just telling you what it is that I want to do, I’d rather you just stick around and be involved in the ride and be a part of it.”
For more information, visit www.ryanreidmusic.com.