The charming authenticity of Ryan Tennis' sound has drawn comparisons to Paul Simon, Bill Withers and Martin Sexton, surprising likenesses for an All-American college football player turned singer/songwriter. While his disarming lyrics and singable melodies display a rare sensitivity, the intensity of his live performances - solo or backed by the raucous Clubhouse Band - hint at his grid-iron past.
This October, Tennis will release his first full length album, Pack Light but Bring Everything. Guided by the sure hand of producer, Pete Donnelly (The Figgs, Soul Asylum, Graham Parker), the 12 song collection is energetic, honest, and fun, demonstrating remarkable versatility, both in style and subject. “Sunlight and Shade” rocks open the album with a look at the sacrifice of monogamy (“I wanted freedom, but I wanted you more”). “Madeline,” a tender, more traditional love song, ends with the line “you saw inside with the eye of a painter/You brought me back, and made me make music again...” followed by a spirited jam that expresses the sentiment even more clearly than the lyric does. “Waking Dream” is a pulsing, hypnotic tale of a ghostly visit during sleep paralysis, and the self-deprecating “Classic Overshare” rides a rowdy country-bluegrass rhythm as it pokes fun at singer/songwriters’ tendency to “sell [their] soul if it makes you sing along.” Rootsy grooves and accessible, yet layered, lyrics are the vein that runs throughout, and revealed in the varied whole is an artist dedicated to honest songwriting and willing to follow that expression to a place that’s beyond easy categorization.
Preceding Pack Light but Bring Everything, Tennis has released two EPs and toured in Ireland, Argentina, Cambodia, Thailand, Bangladesh and Costa Rica, as well as venues up and down the east coast (including Iota Club and Cafe in DC, the Living Room in NYC, Philadelphia's World Cafe Live). He has twice opened for Grammy Winner “Shawn Colvin,” performed at the Philadelphia Folk Festival and Falcon Ridge’s “Emerging Artist Showcase,”, and shared the stage with folk legends Ellis Paul and Jonatha Brook. He’s appeared on NBC’s “The 10! Show” and 6abc’s “Tuned in,” and has become a regular on Philadelphia independent radio (including nationally syndicated WXPN). In 2010, Tennis emerged atop more than 600 entrants in the Philadelphia Songwriters Project Contest, and was nominated as Philadelphia’s singer/songwriter of the year by both Origivation Magazine and WSTW’s Hometown Heroes.
Perhaps his proudest achievement are “Clubhouse Concerts,” a warmly welcoming monthly series at his home in South Philly that Tennis hosts, curates, promotes, runs sound for and performs at. Touring favorites like Barnaby Bright, Carsie Blanton, Mieka Pauley and the West Philadelphia Orchestra have graced the stage, and some of Philly’s finest players are likely to show up for Jam sessions that routinely go until 3 in the morning. “When I first started playing, music was all about discovering a new side of myself,” says Tennis. “Recently it’s been shifting. Now I want to bring rhythm and music to others, and maybe it can do for them what it did for me - help them discover.”
Content ©2011-2012 Ryan Tennis. Website by Jesse Gimbel.