Ryan Lee Crosby is unlocking “a new road to both a global audience and personal awakening with inspiration in [the blues.]” -Michael Marotta, Vanyaland
With an intercontinental band, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Lee Crosby blends essences of American folk-blues and North Indian raga into meditative songs of impermanence, compassion and joy. Crosby’s music is a pleasing mix of improvised and composed material, performed on traditional and modern instruments. Through his recordings and performances, Crosby hopes to inspire peace, openness and respect – for tradition, for culture, for each other and for one’s self.
River Music, Crosby’s sixth full-length album was co-released on LP and CD by Germany’s CosiRecords Schallplatten and Seattle’s Knick Knack Records in 2018. The result of years of study and practice, River Music integrates blues from the hill country of North Mississippi with textures of North Indian Hindustani classical raga music. Crosby performs on electric 12-string guitar and chaturangui (the 22-string Indian slide guitar designed by Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya) and is joined by fretless guitar, tabla, harmonica and calabash (West African percussion). The raga influence is heard through the band’s hypnotic, almost trance-like motifs, and the blues seeps through Crosby’s dynamic vocals and masterful, single-line guitar melodies.
Crosby describes himself as a ‘seeker’ within the music: producer and listener, performer and enthusiast, teacher and student. Crosby’s music-making is an inward process: creativity through meditation, devotion and discipline, but it is also oriented around community-building. As a bandleader, Crosby is guided by the potential of music to connect the internal to the external, the individual to the group, and to bridge seemingly disparate cultures and traditions.
Over nearly 30 years of artistic development, Crosby has evolved through numerous musical lives. Beginning his performing career in 2001 as a punk rock frontman with the Boston based trio Cancer to the Stars, Crosby then established himself as a solo artist throughout New England before broadening his horizons with annual European tours and blues festival performances across the U.S., including Mississippi’s Juke Joint and Bentonia Blues Festivals, as well as the Deep Blues Festivals in Clarksdale, MS and Seattle, Washington.
Ryan Lee first began devoting himself to studying the music of Bentonia, Mississippi, through lessons with Paul Rishell. In February 2019, Crosby made contact with Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, the Grammy nominated bluesman who is the last living lineage holder of the tradition. Over the next year, Crosby made three pilgrimages to Bentonia to learn from Mr. Holmes. During this time, he also recorded an album of original material with Fat Possum Records producer Bruce Watson at his Memphis studio (release date TBD).
Crosby considers himself a perpetual student of music, as well as a full time teacher. In addition to his ongoing study of the Bentonia style of blues, he has taken workshops in North Indian raga with the Indian guitar guru, Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya. Crosby also studied regularly with the celebrated khyal vocalist, Warren Senders, for over a year.
Ryan Lee Crosby has been nominated for two Boston Music Awards and was named “Best Singer/Songwriter” in the 2006 Boston Phoenix/WFNX Radio Music Poll. He composed and performed the film score for the award-winning documentary Racing the Rez (2012, broadcast nationally on PBS). Crosby tours Europe annually and select US regions. He currently lives in Medford, Massachusetts and performs regularly in the greater Boston area. During this current moment away from the road, Crosby has been writing new songs and producing them on 4-track cassette, while also working with his mentor Tom Alden to develop a musical framework for teaching and creating which integrates both his musical influences and personal value systems.