20 Questions

Ryan Humbert – The Shootouts, Opry Debut and New Album


20 Questions is our opportunity to talk with various people in the country music industry. Everyone from musicians and singers to concert promoters and radio executives.

This month we talk to Ryan Humbert, who is the lead singer and front man for the Akron-based group, The Shootouts, who will be releasing their third album and making their Grand Ole Opry debut on February 24th, 2023.

  1. First off congrats on the new album and your Grand Ole Opry debut. Did you foresee any of what The Shootouts are experiencing now when the group originally formed?
Thank you so much! We absolutely did not expect this when The Shootouts were originally formed. This was meant to be a side project, but from the very first show it was crystal clear there was more in store. It was electric, and we could all feel it. Here we are three albums later and working with some of our heroes, and walking onto the biggest stage in country music. It’s wild.
  1. How did the group originally form?
The Shootouts got their start in 2015 when I met Brian Poston and we bonded over our love for real, tradition-based country music. We played our first show at the late Euclid Tavern!
  1. How has the Honky Tonk and Western Swing music of The Shootouts been received by folks as you travel the country to perform?
Often times — and this isn’t just exclusive to country music — people have preconceived notions about a genre or style of music and I think it’s easy for folks to forget that there are still bands out there carrying the torch for the traditional parts of any given genre. Part of our mission statement as a band is to help educate folks about those of us that color outside the lines of today’s mainstream music. Thankfully, folks have been incredibly responsive to what we do, and we’re thankful for it.
  1. You have performed different genres of music. How did those experiences help with the foundation of The Shootouts?
I think it’s good for any artist or musician to be as well rounded as possible, and most of the musicians I know listen to more and enjoy playing than just the type of music they make. And there’s so many principles that can apply to various styles of music. Western swing, for example, is just country jazz. Rock music started as a mixture of country and blues. If you’ve got a solid bedrock, then you can build your house. By dabbling in various genres over the years before The Shootouts, it’s certainly has opened my ears to possibilities for how to bring various influences into the music we make. Some of it intentional, and some by osmosis.
  1. Who was the one that decided to have the group wear authentic western wear of a honky tonk era and do you think that helps the total vibe of the group?
That was a conscious decision right from the start. I firmly believe that you should dress for the job you want. It’s a sign of respect for those that came before us and it shows that we take our job seriously.
  1. The band has been performing all over the country. Besides Northeast Ohio, have The Shootouts found another city/region that has become a hotspot for your music?
We’ve been lucky to have been embraced by numerous areas. Nashville, Indianapolis, Chicago, Cincinnati, New York City are just a few of the towns we love to play and have played a lot of fun shows.

  1. Who have been some of the greatest influences on The Shootouts music?
It’s a long, varied list. Bob Wills, Marty Stuart, George Strait, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Rockpile, Emmylou Harris, BR549, Tom Petty, Buck Owens, Johnny Cash. So on and so forth. This list could stretch a mile long.
  1. You have some great musicians to perform with. Who is in the band?
Brian Poston and I started the band. He’s our lead guitarist, and just a great musician. Kevin McManus is our bassist and sings great harmony too. My longtime musical partner-in-crime Emily Bates sings harmonies, and I handle rhythm guitar and lead vocals.

  1. Your first album came out in 2019 and your third, Stampede comes out on Friday (Feb. 24). How did the first two albums influence the latest release?
I think we’ve continued to grow and explore our sound with each album. We like to look at what parts of the country genre we may have missed with the previous record. For example, when putting together songs for the second record, we realized we didn’t have any shuffles on the first record, or any minor key songs. Little decisions like that can go a long way.
  1. The album is filled with some great country artists. Who is on the album and how did the collaborations come about?
We were thrilled to be joined by some of our heroes on this album. Ray Benson (album co-producer) and his band Asleep at the Wheel join us, as well as Raul Malo of the Mavericks, Buddy Miller, Jim Lauderdale and the great Marty Stuart. All of these happened naturally. We’d meet them all in various capacities over the years, and we were humbled that they all said yes when we asked.

  1. Some of the songs from Stampede have already reached satellite radio on Outlaw Country on SiriusXM. What is the feeling of hearing your music on that nationwide network and what other stations can people hear your music?
It’s thrilling. It’s cool to get messages from folks all across the US that are hearing the song at the same time! We’re lucky to have a lot of support at terrestrial radio all across the US too, and it really is helpful in allowing us to grow into new markets.
  1. Do you have any favorite songs on Stampede?
Three of my favorites are “Stampede” (Written by Brian Poston), “Run For Cover” (written by me), and “Angel’s Work” (Written by Al Moss).

  1. Who are the songwriters on Stampede?
The Shootouts have always been a collective, songwriting wise. I write a lot of our songs, as does our longtime collaborator, mentor, and friend Al Moss. We also aren’t afraid to put our own spin on a choice cover song. All the instrumental songs are written by Brian Poston. As an album, “Stampede” follows that same mold.
  1. In addition to releasing Stampede on February 24th, The Shootouts will make their debut on the Grand Ole Opry on the same day. What was the feeling when you first received notice to perform on the Opry stage?
It’s something I’ll never forget. Getting the call to make your Opry debut is one you’ll only ever receive once in your life. It was an emotional moment for all of us. That is hallowed ground, and we’re excited to be a part of Opry history now.
  1. Have you started to feel any nerves about performing on the Opry?
We’re definitely nervous, but I think that’s good thing – we’re respectfully nervous. It’s an institution, and we just want to do right by the Opry, our songs, our fans, and ourselves. It’s an honor to stand on that stage.
  1. What other artists are on the bill with you for your Opry show?
Ricky Skaggs, Crystal Gayle, Adam Hood, Riders in the Sky, Jeannie Seely, Dion Pride and more!
  1. You will be hosting an album release party locally. When and where will the party be held?
Saturday, March 18th at the beautiful Lions Lincoln Theatre in downtown Massillon, OH. Our old friend Cody J. Martin opens the show. Tickets are available at lionslincolntheatre.org
  1. How can folks follow The Shootouts and find out more about the group?
We’re on all the social media platforms as @shootoutsmusic and our website is shootoutsmusic.com.
  1. What else is on the agenda for The Shootouts in 2023?
Touring, touring, touring! We’ll be out and about a lot this year. And who knows – maybe album number four? Ha!
  1. What would you like to say to those fans that have been supporting The Shootouts since you began?
We couldn’t do it without them. It’s the reason we do what we do, and we promise to continue to make them proud.

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