Over the years, I’ve met and heard hundreds of local artists play across Dallas and Fort Worth. From full bands to solo acoustic acts, the talent that surrounds us never ceases to amaze me.
I remember working at a local bar here in Frisco, and I was booking music for the upcoming month. With only a few dates to fill, I wanted to bring in someone new who had a different sound. I began to go through all my emails and contacts listening to demos and watching clips of local talent. The sound that caught my ear was Ryan Berg.
The raw rip of the guitar followed by a voice that had me reacting, “You have got to be kidding.” This was what I was looking for and I had to book him. A few years later, Ryan Berg and the Velvet Ears are about to release their debut album on Saturday, July 22, at The Goat in Dallas.
Lifestyle Frisco: How long have you been playing music?
Ryan Berg: I taught myself guitar when I was 15 years old but I’ve been singing in choirs since I was around 10. Choir was my vehicle into the music world thanks to recently passed, Micheal O’Hern. Music is such a powerful force and tool, but without guidance and discipline it’s hard to take it anywhere. O’Hern opened my eyes to the idea that music could one day be a passion that pays the bills.
LsF: What drives you to write a song?
RB: Emotion. The songs I’ve written have always been formatted around my extreme personality emotionally. Although the “happy,” “upbeat” songs seem to be crowd favorites, I find the most fulfillment in my sad, “getting it on paper” songs. Without music as a muse, I’m not sure how I would still be around. It is very therapeutic.
LsF: Who are some of the local artist or bands that you are currently listening to these days?
RB: I’m a big fan of Jason Elmore, Tutu Jones, Jackie Don Loe, Aaron Burton, and Perry Jones. After I got back from college (Texas State University), I was graciously embraced by the Blues Scene in East Dallas. Not only did these guys blow my mind on a nightly basis at venues like The Goat, Bucky Moonshine’s, Louie Louie’s, etc., they also took me in as a lost, young musician. The brotherhood in Dallas music is unreal. I encourage anyone looking to play around town to take a listen to the foundation that Dallas is blessed with.
LsF: Playing in Dallas and in Frisco… what are some of the differences you see?
RB: Both are incredible. Something unique about our area is that we’re not considered a “music city.” I think this is a false description. The coolest thing that Dallas has to offer is loyalty. Our fans come out to 3 or 4 shows a week depending on where we are. Community and word-of-mouth are vital to our success in this climate.
LsF: Can you tell us a little about the new album?
RB: The Velvet Ears is a project I started in Dallas using a lot of the material I wrote while at Lake Highlands High School and Texas State University. I began gigging with my lead guitar player, Glen Fleischman, four years ago in small restaurants. Since then, the project has branched out exponentially with the addition of a number of musicians supporting us on stage:
- Nick Snyder,
- Patrick Smith,
- Canyon Kafer,
- Brandon Katona,
- David Kapsner,
- Kirk Hampton,
- Mayo Valdez,
- Nathan Ziehm,
- Charles Alexander, and
- Matt McClellan.
I feel the album highlights the brotherhood we’ve developed through the songs I wrote in my bedroom.
LsF: Do you have a preference for playing with the full band or solo?
RB: I love jamming, period. In the right setting, solo shows are so incredible, but I think everyone has a better time when you’re hearing a ripping guitar solo sandwiched by some insightful lyrics and melodies. Just performing makes me happy.
LsF: Are there any local artists or bands with whom you would like to collaborate?
RB: I love what Leon Bridges is doing right now. He brings a current sound that’s embellished with an old soul.
With Ryan’s new album coming out this Saturday, I encourage you to come to the Frisco Rail Yard this Friday, July 21, at 7pm to see Ryan Berg and the Velvet Ears perform at the Frisco Rail Yard.