On any given night, alternative folk artist Ryan Hutchens can be found playing earnestly in front of a modest crowd at a pizza parlor, brewery, coffee shop, or hotel lobby. Most musicians embark on tours, but what’s notable about Hutchens – a South Carolina native who now resides in Denver – is that he’s on the road more often than he’s home. Peruse Hutchens’ “Past Shows” list on his website, and you’ll find a dizzying archive of performances from around the country. Hutchens calls Denver home, but you’re seemingly just as likely to find the musician playing in an intimate venue in rural Texas or Oregon than to catch him taking a night off in Denver.
“I’d rather be playing than waiting for opportunities to present themselves,” says Hutchens, who has played over 1,000 shows since he started touring five years ago, “There are few things as satisfying as hanging out in a nice venue with a tasty beer, playing guitar and singing my favorite songs.” Though Hutchens’ music often features full-band instrumentation and thoughtful arrangements, he typically performs original songs and covers alone with an acoustic guitar, which allows him to tour constantly.
There’s an intimacy in Hutchens’ music that lends itself to the unpretentious, up-close settings it’s typically performed in. Citing bluegrass and gospel as influences, Hutchens creates and performs with the intention of giving his listeners music they can hear their themselves in. “My songs tend to have their origins in personal stories, observations, ideas, and expressions that come from my real world experiences and relationships. I try to write about these personal things in a slightly abstract way that can be universally understood and connected with. A song works well when I can tell a story that the listener feels like is, at least in part, their own.”
In today’s tech-driven music industry, Hutchens’ eagerness to share his work so frequently in person is a stark contrast from artists who release work and focus their efforts more on social media promotion than through live performances. As you’d expect, living life as a musician constantly on the road comes with its drawbacks. “Performing so many live shows takes away from the time and energy I can put into anything else, including creating new music. After playing 4-5 shows in a week, I don’t always want to sit down to work on new song ideas.”
But even with the challenges that come with spending the majority of his time touring, Hutchens’s self-described “Never Ending Tour” is slated to continue through 2020 with performances scheduled from the Rocky Mountain west to the Carolinas. And in spite of his remarkably demanding touring schedule, Hutchens is gearing up to release new music for the first time since 2017. “I’ve been writing new music since the release of my second album, The Last Ten Years, in 2017. Some of these songs are completed or nearly there and have become core parts of my setlists at live shows as I work on crafting them into a finished product.”