Music discovery on the Internet is all well and good; you’re surfing through the pages on Spotify, trying to find a related artists, you’re checking out what your favorite music blogs posted this week, or you’re endlessly scrolling down your Tumblr dashboard, clicking on streams. It’s a fine way to find new things, but nothing will ever beat word of mouth recommendation from a trusted music peer. Nothing. There is just some additional component, some missing link that binds a couple of music nerds together when one of them speaks “…but you’ve heard this, right?” or “…if you like this, you have got to make sure you check out this.” Maybe that component is the soul.
Such was the case with Ryan Lee Crosby, a Boston-based musician, referred to me by a favorite songwriter of mine, Allysen Callery, whom I count as a majorly credible source for musical knowledge and endorsement (plus, the words of Folkadelphia Sessioneers hold serious weight). Crosby was gearing up for the release of his fourth long-player, Institution Blues, seeing him channel Mississippi hill country artists, acoustic blues, and a touch of swirling psychedelic into his sound.
We ended up welcoming Crosby into the studio at WXPN at the end of the year. Alone, with arm and handfuls of his instrument, amp, and records, you couldn’t help but consider the loneliness of a solo touring musician and its lengthy downtime between gigs, the endless trance-like drives, the dingy sleeping situations. It’s enough to dissuade anybody, but here Ryan Lee Crosby was, chipper and excited to play for us, ready to weave a song of his own personal American blues.