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Ryan Adams


Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams

photo: Samir Hussein/Getty Images

Description of Ryan Adams' Music:

Singer-songwriter, Americana


Considering his collaboration with them in Whiskeytown, fans of Ryan Adams should also check out Caitlin Cary's solo stuff as well as the other projects Phil Wandscher has participated in (particularly Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter). Wandshcer has also played with Death Cab for Cutie, who might be of interest to fans of Adams' work, despite the fact they're more indie pop than alt-country - they still inhabit the same thoughtful, intelligent, somewhat dark lyrical space as Adams' solo work. Meanwhile, those unfamiliar with Adams, but who are fans of Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, Lucinda Williams, and other great alt-country artists would certainly enjoy delving deeply into Ryan Adams' repertoire.

The Cardinals Lineup:

Ryan Adams - guitar, piano, harmonica, banjo, vocals
Brad Pemberton - drums
Catherine Popper - bass, piano, vocals
JP Bowersock - guitar

The above represents the founding lineup, begun in 2004, though Neal Casal joined the group a year later on guitar and piano, and Jon Graboff replaced Cashdollar in 2005. Other members came and went as well.

Whiskeytown Lineup:

Ryan Adams - guitar, vocals
Caitlin Cary - fiddle
Eric Gilmore - drums
Steve Grothmann - bass
Phil Wandscher - guitar

The above members were the original lineup of Whiskeytown, but the band had a number of bass and guitar players through the years and a handful of pedal steel players.

Recommended Ryan Adams Albums:

Gold (Lost Highway, 2001) compare prices

Heartbreaker (Bloodshot Records, 2000) compare prices

Strangers Almanac with Whiskeytown (Outpost Records, 1997) compare prices

Purchase/Download Ryan Adams MP3s:

"New York, New York" (from Gold)
"Chains of Love" (from Ashes & Fire)
"Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight" (from Whiskeytown's Strangers Almanac)

Ryan Adams Biography:

Ryan Adams was born in November, 1974, in Jacksonville, NC, near Raleigh. As a child, he developed an obsession with storytelling and began writing short stories before he even entered the double digits. His early heroes included folks like Edgar Allen Poe and Jack Kerouac - both influences have pervaded his approach to lyric writing as a songwriter.

His musical life really spun into motion when his stepdad bought him an electric guitar. At 14 years old, Adams started taking guitar lessons and joined his first band. He dropped out of high school in 10th grade and moved in with his friend, before developing a habit of joining bands and pursuing music. He eventually earned a GED, but his interest in academia was fleeting. He moved to Raleigh with his band which split up in 1994. Soon after, he teamed up with some other local musicians to start a band called Whiskeytown.

Though Adams' first bands were more punk-rock focused, Whiskeytown pulled heavier influence from old school Americana artists like Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. They released a handful of highly acclaimed (in certain circles) albums before Adams went solo in 2000 with a disc called Heartbreaker which saw him singing with Harris. The disc also included contributions from rising folksingers like Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, securing Adams' place among Americana and roots singers.

After achieving a certain level of success with his solo career, Adams teamed up with a backing band to make a pair of albums as Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, starting in 2004. After a couple of years with the Cardinals, he returned to a solo career, but has dabbled with band projects ever since. He married singer-songwriter Mandy Moore in 2009 and his 2011 release Ashes & Fire (compare prices) earned Adams a 2013 Grammy nomination for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical.

In addition to his many albums, bands, and projects, Adams has written two books and also become quite the sought-after producer. He's worked with artists as variant as Willie Nelson, Norah Jones, Weezer, Beth Orton, and several others.

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