Friends On The Road To Nightfall, Local Singer/Songwriters Ryan Oyer And Jordan Hallquist “Unplugged” At Rhythm And Brews

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - by Mark Herndon

Over the next several weeks a number of local singers, songwriters and bands will start on the road to Nightfall.  Check the various event schedules for the dates as Rhythm & Brews hosts the stage event.  This is another opportunity to meet so many talented singer/songwriters and musicians.  These are some of the most hard-working, dedicated and focused people.  They are diligent with a friendly interest in gathering knowledge and wisdom from people who have pioneered the way before them.

I gave up my musical talent years ago after I left high school for a higher education. Shame on me.  I actually was pretty good with a tenor sax and clarinet.  However, it left me with a good ear for music, recognizing talented artists, musicians, songwriters, and dancers.  So all was not lost, but probably I should have held on to those woodwinds.   

I think truly we all have talents - some we cultivate and some we hide under a rock.  Growing up in the era of the late 60s-70s, I saw the first color television and listened at night under the bed covers of my hand-held transistor radio with ear piece. Now I am feeling more nostalgic seeing the turntable and vinyl give way to 8 track tapes, cassette tapes, CD and on to a digital age.  I guess that is one of the many things my parents gave me through my childhood, and several stuck with me.  Today, I don’t have the records, 8 Tracks or cassette music tapes.  At the age of eight my parents laid a Kodak 100 Instamatic camera with a pop up bulb flash.  Those also have evolved… however, I still have my first camera.  

A camera, music and talented singer/songwriters.  The making of fun, capturing some great moments and documenting the experience.  So it was late January when I got  a message late January from Gail Lindsey noting she had friends she introduced me to who were playing “Unplugged” at Chattanooga’s popular venue Rhythm & Brews downtown.  Gail actually introduced me to Ryan Oyer, Jordan Hallquist, Bexy Ribero, Michael McDade and Robin Merritt  on Christmas eve at Tremont Tavern.  All of the people I just mentioned are great friends among each other.  I followed up on Gail’s suggestion to bring my camera and check out these individuals for open mic.  It was open microphone night for anyone who wanted to sing, play instrument, share poems or stories, but it was also my hamburger night.  Open microphone night on Christmas eve was fun and I have included a few photos.    I will say this, but everyone already knows Tremont Tavern is undisputed having the best burgers in Chattanooga. Tremont Tavern is located in an historic building in Riverview and is a great supporter of local music.

Fast forward, late January it was a damp chilly night to be out. This time I received several messages from my Christmas eve friends that Rhythm & Brews was having an “Unplugged Session” .  Ryan Oyler (lead vocals) and his band would be performing.  Ryan’s sidekicks are Michael McDade (guitar), Jeremy Muse (Drums) Jessica Nunn (violin) and Megan Howard (vocals). Ryan cut his first CD and released it four years ago titled “ Come Together”. The 'Come Together' was produced by Mike McDade/Ryan Oyer and was recorded, mixed and mastered at Dover Studios in Chattanooga. The album features several Chattanooga musicians including Noah Collins, Marcus Wright, Megan Howard, Holly McCormack, Mike McDade, Jonlyn R. Lynville, Ben Parris, Rick Rushing, Tim Cofield, Butch Ross and Christian Collier. 

I video recorded several of Ryan’s unplugged  songs of his original material.  This song “Alone Without You” is uploaded from YouTube link as . Check out his other two CDs “For All of My Day” and “Metamorphosis” on iTunes or pick one up at his next live event.

Jordan Hallquist is described as "a singer/songwriter who has a story.  He began singing at the age of three and picked up his first instrument at 10. He hasn’t stopped since. With the strong support of his parents and sincere faith guiding his life choices, his musical experience has been ever-widening. A tuned ear may hear influences of Neil Young, Martin Smith, Dave Evans or Bo Diddley, to mention a few. His protean style of entertaining encompasses the musical panorama, including Americana, blues, rockabilly and classic rock. Jordan is just as comfortable performing an acoustic set in a cozy tavern as he is piloting a band while performing originals and selected covers for an exuberant crowd of dancing college students to delivering a professional and spot-on performance as the opening act for nationally known performers and bands."

His newest album "broken, bruised & scarred.....a tired man's song" is now available. It presents a very raw and transparent appeal without any frills. The collection of new material is honest, accessible, passionate and gritty as described by Jordan.  One of his songs “Million Questions” I captured and uploaded to my YouTube account.  See if you don’t think this young man has been influenced by several of the artists. We would recognized a blend of Darrin Rucker, Rob Thomas and Dave Matthews. Here is the link for you to listen to.  The link is from Jordan’s performance at the “Unplugged” session with his song “Million Questions” viewed on YouTube.

The night was fun and the photos share the passion of both of these young men, their songs and how they share it to anyone willing to listens.  Now the two friends and others are bringing their songs and band to the stage of Rhythm & Brews as the road to Nightfall begins.  More information about Ryan Oyer and Jordan Hallquist can be found on social media.  

After a week of laying this story aside, today I picked it back up to complete it.  I just walked out of Round 2 of the Road to Night Fall festival, as Jonathan Susman, promoter for the event tallied the votes and proclaimed Jordan Hallquist and The Outfit as having received the most votes above the other six bands (including The Band Raven, Remembering January, Hot Damn, Endelouz, Marlow Drive and Paul Hatfield) to advance to the final.  In the next round (No.3), Ryan Oyer will compete among his other friends from the local music scene as each band strives to be the opening headliner at Nightfall and receive a $1,000 check for their achievement.  Good luck to all of my friends and the new ones I have met along the Road To Nightfall 2014.

Comments are welcome. 

Mark A Herndon, CPG

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