We first heard Ryan Culwell on the Born In The U.S.A. tribute album Dead Man's Town, where he wrings all the pathos and vulnerability out of Bruce Springsteen's "Bobby Jean." This year he released the critically acclaimed album Flatlands, and earned raves from Rolling Stone Country and NPR.
Culwell will play a benefit for Musicians Corner at The Bluebird this Saturday, performing in the round with his friends Robby Hecht, Caitlin Canty and Aaron Lee Tasjan.
We're excited to premiere his this live video for "Amarillo," which strips the Flatlands song as bare as the building he shot it in.
Where did you shoot the video?
We recorded this video in the construction site next to the Hutton on Broadway in Nashville. We had borrowed a camera rig and only had a few minutes to use it, so nothing is planned. We just pulled in and started walking through. You don't see it here, but we had an audience of construction workers.
What's it like being an artist in Nashville?
When I left Amarillo, Texas to move to Nashville I had misconceptions about the city. I assumed it would be more cut-throat than it is. People can show their teeth occasionally, but for the most part artists seem to support each other. Sometimes you'll meet someone who obviously wants to the next bro country superstar but you really just end up feeling sorry for them. The majority of people are just trying to be the best version of themselves.
What's the last concert in Nashville you went to, and how was it?
I recently saw Megan McCormick play at The Basement. I've seen concerts since, but this one stuck in my head. It was my favorite listening experience to this day.
Have you played the Bluebird before?
I've been fortunate enough to have played the Bluebird five or six times in the last couple years with some of my favorite writers. What I do is really far on the fringes of what is considered commercial country, so I've been really excited that a place like the Bluebird values songwriters on their own merited rather than the trends at the time. With their popularity, they could sit back and play the part, but the folks that run the place are brave and care too much about music to do that.
Have you been to Musicians Corner before?
I took my two daughters to the last Musicians Corner I went to, so it was a good time for me. They were dancing and laughing. It was a little bit like a scene out of a movie. It may sound like a small thing, but as a parent of two young girls, I really value the idea of family friendly music venues and events. Nashville's leaders are leaning forward into the arts like no other city and my family is reaping the benefits of that through Musicians Corner.