Listening to Ryan Tennis is like taking a road trip to a new place with an old friend. Songs range from soul-touching acoustic ballads to roots funk and soul to rollicking reggae covers, but under it all is a foundation of groove and warmth that keeps you moving forward. Tennis' sound has drawn comparisons to Paul Simon, Bill Withers and Ben Harper--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 gridiron past. Shows swing as easily from pin-drop-silence-inducing acoustic ballads to deep-grooving funk jams and bumping roots reggae covers. Revealed in the varied whole is an artist devoted to honest songwriting and willing to follow his own expression to a place beyond easy categorization.
Tennis' charming authenticity and powerful groove have endeared him to fans at home and abroad, and with a dogged DIY mentality the last two years have seen him orchestrate successful tours through Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, Colombia, and Argentina. In the summer of 2014 Tennis brought some of the energy he discovered to the US, booking and hosting a 50-show co-billed tour for friends and collaborators, El Caribefunk, a latin fusion group from Colombia. 2015 will see him return for tours in Europe and South America in support of his second full-length album, Silver Sun.
Stateside, Tennis has an ever-expanding regional tour schedule revolving around his home city of Philadelphia. He has opened for Grammy Winners Kenny Loggins and 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. 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 is his “Clubhouse Concerts,” a warmly welcoming monthly series at his home in South Philly, which Tennis hosts, curates, and performs at. Touring favorites like Devon Sproule, Barnaby Bright, Carsie Blanton, the Gold Magnolias, 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. “That’s been shifting. As George Clinton of Parliament Funkadelic said awhile back, 'Free your ass, and your mind will follow.' Now I bring that rhythm and emotion out to the audience as well, so it can do for them what it did for me - help them discover.”
Content ©2011-2012 Ryan Tennis. Website by Jesse Gimbel.