News/Thoughts

Riyen Roots

Born in Atlantic City New Jersey, Riyen Roots family moved to Philadelphia when he just three years old.  It wasn’t long after when his mom noticed his strong interest in music and an ability to sing. She sought out public events for him to perform, where he sang everything from old standards like Woddy Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land”, the “The National Anthem”, the Platter’s “Earth Angel”, and Tennessee Ernie’s “Sixteen Tons.”
“I think some of it was a bit too advanced for a three year old,” Riyen recalled, “but my mother knew what she was doing. She wanted me to be able to sing any style for any kind of audience I may encounter on my path.” That variety of influence can be seen now in his performance, where he incorporates 100 plus years of every genre of music he feels connected to.
Soul Of The Roots
“That’s what the Roots part of my name is all about,” he said. “It’s actually an acronym for Rhythms Of Old Touching Souls (Roots), and of all the genres I’ve fallen in love with on my musical journey. Growing up, my family went through a lot of hard times, and the blues spoke to me on a very deep level.”
“It is the music of the people, made by the people, for the people,” Riyen said. “Any given night there is a blues artist or band playing for the hard working people. The rhythms and words bring peace to a weary mind during times of suffering, poverty, and social oppression. It can also be the soundtrack to an evening of dancing, good times, and celebration of overcoming life’s difficulties.”
It’s All Connected
For Riyen, the blues is the epitome of human artistic expression. “Music truly connects us all,” he said. “When I found my bluesy path, I found an extended family with a great history and many members I related to worldwide who support each other. I love the blues world, and it seems they love me. We’re family now and I will play for them until they bury me in the rich American soil from which I came. Hopefully under a big ol’ tree with lots of … roots,” he mused.

Riyen’s said his style of blues is a mixed gumbo of all the styles of blues that influenced him through the years; Delta, Chicago, Piedmont, Blues Rock, Trance Blues, Prohibition Era, and even Party Blues. He says he’s inspired by everything. “Literally,” he said. “Everything I see, touch, smell, taste, and hear along my path. But musically, I’d like to continue keeping the blues alive every where I travel in the world.”

It Was The Beginning
Riyen feels like the blues was really the first form of music. “It’s been with us since the beginning. It has been mankind’s main form of expression since the first cave woman gave birth, and the cave man moaned after loosing his woman to illness, and banged meatless bones in angry rhythmic expression of his loss. It may be the hunter’s pain after the failed hunt that could have ensured the clan’s survival, or the struggle of the shaman’s mind as he howled at the moon and stars, struggling to understand his very existence. To me, this was the beginning of the blues we all feel from time to time, and the evolution of this thing we modern folks call music. As long as people go through the ups and down of life and seek comfort in knowing others empathize, the blues will be there.”
I Am A Song Hunter
Riyen says he’s written about 200 songs in the past twenty years. He says he gets this feeling that he should pick up his guitar and riff for a while. “Usually, a simple riff inspires the melody,” he said, “and then I take pen to the pad. Sometimes I just get an idea for a song and then go about it, but usually, the process is somewhat involuntary. I feel I channel these words and melodies sometimes. It’s hard to take credit when it just flows. ninty percent of my songs were finished in less than 20 minutes. My pen never lies and my music is as honest as I can make it. I am a song hunter.”
CD In The Works
Riyen is currently at Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, NC working on his new CD. It will consist of mostly acoustic arrangements. . “We are looking forward to promoting this release by touring hard this year in the US and Europe,” he said. “No man is promised tomorrow, but I plan on playing for the rest of this life,” he concluded.

 

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