“I like to think of myself as a song-hunter,” says Ryan Hedgecock. “I hear something in my head and then I go out and try to find it in the real world. And if I don’t find it, I make it myself.”
Over the course of his amazingly diverse career, Ryan’s search for the rare sound and the uncommon lyric has taken him over the boundaries of rock, through the fields of country and deep into the blues. As a singer, songwriter and guitarist, he’s shared the stages with legendary artists like U2 and Tom Petty, toured internationally and recorded with top producers and musicians. But he’s most at home discovering new approaches to familiar musical genres, then serving them up with an idiosyncratic twist that reflects his California roots and his expansive musical tastes.
Growing up in the Los Angeles area, Ryan was drawn to music early and was playing in neighborhood bands by age 12. An early love for Led Zeppelin and the Grateful Dead evolved into a passionate exploration of traditional country and early rock ‘n’ roll. After a brief stint with the rockabilly combo Bedrock, Ryan co-founded Lone Justice, a groundbreaking unit that tapped into the rich indigenous music of Southern California as it took the local club scene by storm. Its fusion of country soul and punk rock energy gained it a fervent following and critical acclaim. In hindsight, Ryan sees his experience with the band as just one part of an ongoing musical journey: “Lone Justice was my first successful attempt at taking old song forms and giving them a modern approach – but it was just the beginning. In a sense, I’ve paid my dues backwards. The skills I needed to really create the music I’d imagined came after that band.”
From there, Ryan formed several all-original bands and released his debut solo album, Echo Park. Next, he joined forces with singer-songwriter Amy Allison to launch Parlor James, a vocal harmony duo that revamped classic folk and country balladry with a dark edge. After successfully releasing an EP and album, Ryan moved on and continued his forays into undiscovered musical terrain. Inspired by the thriving blues scene in South Central L.A., he adopted the persona of Rattlesnake Daddy to combine roots music elements with cutting edge technology: “It was my goal to take DAW hardware, samplers and DJ-type powered speakers and use it in a band setting that could break down the wall between artist and audience. Rattlesnake Daddy offers a way to build community on stage that’s brought me some of the most intense musical experiences I’ve ever had.”
Always restlessly hunting for the next new song, Ryan is currently recording a country album with Lone Justice partner and longtime friend Marvin Etzioni. He is also delving into his archives to release unheard tunes from earlier projects. Live, he continues to perform with veteran blues artists at South Central venues, sparking musical interchanges that inform his own work. As ever, Ryan’s musical evolution continues.
“At heart, I’m a folk musician,” he says. “I’m not a purist, though – I use whatever is available and reinterpret the sounds the way I feel them. That’s what folk musicians have always done – it keeps the tradition alive. Really, I don’t see any boundaries between artists like Hank Williams and Keith Richards. It all draws from the same well.” For Ryan Hedgecock, the hunt goes on wherever the music leads him.