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Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Modern Troubadour - Serena Ryder

A mighty rush of Canadian power is sweeping into Tahoe this Friday - not an icy cold weather pattern, but rather the impassioned singing of Serena Ryder.

Hailed as 2008’s “Best New Artist” at her native country’s Juno Awards, Ryder will be headlining at the Hard Rock CafĂ© at 9:30 p.m. Proceeds from her concert will be used to benefit the organization’s World Hunger Year and Christmas Cheer All Year campaigns.

To eradicate hunger in our communities, and worldwide, concert tickets are selling for just $5.00. VIP options and a meet and greet post concert event is available for only $15.00. Canned non-perishable food will be collected at the venue as well.

For the 25-year old Ryder, using her voice and gifts as a songwriter and guitarist for the betterment of others is a natural occurrence. She spent her childhood in the rural placidness of Millbrook in eastern Ontario spent listening to the words and music of other Canadians like Neil Young and the poet/singer Leonard Cohen.

The former’s 1972 album “Harvest” spoke to her in a special way – even as a preteen.

“I realized I could create as well,” she said.

Where audiences will appreciate her current folk/jazz and blues styling and rhythms at her first gig, at a local Legion hall, she sang others’ lyrics. Ryder was eight at the time.

In a scene worthy of a movie script, the town’s local taxi driver heard her singing and not only booked her – but also acted as her press agent by getting her local media coverage.

Her admiration for Cohen’s works grew over the period where she, like many, was in the midst of learning how to become her own person. She continues to marvel how his simplicity of words could translate into painful emotions.

Not all is angst though. Ryder’s voice reverberates with a timbre of world-weariness while simultaneously edged with the longing sweetness of enthusiastic youth.

In her Atlantic Record CD debut release of “is it o.k.,” she flawless blends her search for answers to life’s tough questions as if love relationships with lyrics that plaintively ask for both recognition of self worth and the sheer playfulness of new found commitment.

Showing her vulnerability is an act she is comfortable displaying. There is not a hint of hokiness when she declares it is a beautiful world when she lets down her guard. She spins magic through the ability to accept a range of emotions and then invite her audiences to share the ride as they have in her five previous albums.

Her career has taken her throughout Canada, Australia and into the U.S. Festival goers from Lollapalooza to the impressive SXSW of Austin, Texas have enjoyed her original sounds. She has also shared the stage with country rockers like Steve Earle and Cheap Trick.

Of late, she and the band, NeedtoBreathe, from Possum Hill, SC are playing and recording together more.

While she still must occasionally change in a women’s restroom before the show her life is becoming more crowded with jumping on airplanes or riding around in tour vans. This has made time spent for writing her music limited.

Now bits of images and words, gathered like a nest-building sparrow, on electronic devices, matchbook covers and scraps of paper capture her thoughts and moods.

At a tour’s end, her collection resembles jigsaw puzzle pieces.  

“This is how lots of my records come together,” Ryder observes.

The fun comes when deciding if the moments of past inspiration retain validity.

The remaining ones become the next sagas of this troubadour’s journey.

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