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Ryan Shupe & the RubberBand Reinvigorates Bluegrass

Music has a great ability to renew itself. Check out Ryan Shupe & the RubberBand, a bluegrass group from Utah breathes new life — and not a little bit of humor — into the a genre steeped in tradition.

This is background from the band’s site.

RubberBand is a perfect name for Ryan Shupe and his band of amazing musicians. Each member possesses years of experience on his respective instrument and when the band comes together their collective talent is explosive and undeniable.

The five man band, hailing from the Salt Lake City, Utah, is a breath of fresh air in an age where much of the music is over-produced, “practically to death,” and their organic approach to performing has built them quite a following, not only through the West but around the rest of the country as well. Lead singer Ryan Shupe originally formed the band as an outlet for his songwriting but it soon took on a life all its own, becoming bigger than anything he could have originally imagined

A descendent from a long line of fiddle players, (he’s the fifth generation to play,) Shupe has been playing violin nearly as long as he could walk. His father assembled a group of young children, to play and tour professionally, and called them the PeeWee Pickers. This was when Ryan was still under the age of 10. He continued to play in bands all through school. In college, weary of starting bands only to have someone drop out, he ingeniously decided to form a loose outfit of musicians known as the RubberBand, where members could drop in and out at will and he would have a rotating group from which to pull when he needed them. However, one by one, the musicians began to stick and their cohesiveness fueled their musical fires until they became regional favorites. Most of the members had known each other from the area circuit before they joined Shupe in the RubberBand.

I am not sure that Shupe was the first to have a flexible entry/exit/reentry policy — which is what seems to be described below — but clearly has the good sense to see that it’s a good idea. This is from Wikipedia:

Ryan Shupe started playing the fiddle at age 5.[3] He played in various musical groups growing up starting with a group of talented 10 yr olds called the “PeeWee Pickers” who toured nationally.[4] His experiences in bands forming and then breaking up led him to the concept of a “rubber band”. It would be elastic in members being able to rotate in and out without a name change or breaking a groove.[3] Since their formation they have become one of the most successful musical acts from the state of Utah among other acts such as SHeDAISY, Peter Breinholt, and Neon Trees. The band also made an appearance on the popular U.S. Television show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on October 18, 2006 for a family in Logan, Utah.[5] (Continue Reading..)

Above is “Simplify” and below is “Walk the Walk.” The meeting of new and old is particularly apparent when a nice few moments of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” break out during the comedy toward the end of the song.

Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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