For those in the crowd at Mike Ryan’s Friday night show who sigh with relief at getting out of the house, the Texas country singer-songwriter can relate.
Some songwriters took advantage of an unwelcome time off due to coronavirus cancellations to write lots of new songs. Ryan spent a lot of time at his Granbury home corralling his and his wife’s two toddler boys, ages 3 and 18 months.
“It seems like with no touring, a songwriter would have plenty of time to be writing songs, but I didn’t find it easy trying to be creative around the house with two toddlers,” he said. “I wouldn’t take it back. They’re at a fast-growing stage of their life. But I’m certainly looking forward to get back to work.”
That’s not to say fans at Friday’s concert won’t hear something new to join the ranks of No. 1 singles like “Dear Country Music,” and “Damn Good Goodbye” when Ryan and his six-piece band takes the stage. He was five songs into recording his next album when pandemic shutdowns began and closed the way to the Nashville studio he was using. Scheduling issues complicated a return, but as touring and live performances are starting to fill his spring schedule, his album is back on track as well.
Ryan has about two or three more songs left to record with new producer Bart Butler to finish the album, planned for release later this year, and fans likely will hear a good portion of it. “It’ll be a pretty good preview of the new record,” he said.
Ryan’s latest single “Can Down” recently arrived at Texas country radio stations with streaming set to start April 9. He’s found working with Butler a stimulating experience and thinks fans will enjoy the final product. “He’s great. It’s cool having somebody fresh. They bring a new drive — fresh ears, too,” he said.
A need for employment during the pandemic shutdowns cost Ryan two of his band members, but the band is now up to full strength for some traditional country. They’ve stepped up rehearsing to prepare for upcoming tours, but Ryan worries more about himself and forgetting lyrics on the way to recovering their pre-pandemic pace. “It’s been several months with no shows,” he said. “It’s been a hell of a sabbatical.”
Opening for Ryan and his band is Fort Worth alt-country singer Dustin Massey, who recently released his debut single “Pretty Okay.”