Ryan Bisio
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Ryan Bisio

Arcata, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2005 | SELF

Arcata, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2005
Solo Alternative Singer/Songwriter




"An otherworldly sound"

Love the strong, inspired vocals on "Hand Me Downs" by Ryan Bisio. Creates an otherworldly sound. - Getty Images Music

"50 Indie Acoustic Artists You don't Want To Miss"

Ryan Bisio - Indie Music Review Magazine

"It's Truly hard not to dig the guy as a person or a musician"

For some, change means a new hairstyle or rearranging living room furniture. But for local singer-songwriter Ryan Bisio, it meant packing up, moving to Copenhagen, Denmark and taking a job coaching basketball.

“I needed a real change of scenery for my music,” Bisio says. “I felt like I was running out of fumes. It’s been very reinvigorating for everything, including my personal life. I really love it over there.”

Bisio now considers himself primarily a professional basketball instructor – just one who happens to dedicate a lot of time to his music.

“I’m doing more music over there than I was doing in [Monterey] so it’s working out great,” he says.

Recalibrating the balance between music and other undertakings, meanwhile, is making him a better musician.

“Those days around [former downtown landmark] Monterey Live I really took the music thing seriously, and I still do,” he says, “but there’s just more of a balance on the other side which enables it to thrive even more.”

Monterey County gets its first taste of Bisio in over a year Saturday night at the Alternative Cafe, where he’ll celebrate the release of Harbor Longing, which he recorded over 14 months. 

The poppy “Resolution” is a sweet ballad that showcases Bisio’s tender alto voice alongside simple meandering guitar plucks and a looping drum machine. The minimalism of the tune gives it additional depth. That sensibility carries over to the more somber “My Departed,” where the singer-songwriter questions what could’ve been.

Bisio doesn’t plan on moving back to the U.S. anytime soon; what he’s got going in Denmark is clicking too nicely. “My sound and image over there is almost considered kind of exotic,” he says. “A Californian in Scandinavia. People are really receptive in a way that could be taken for granted [in the U.S.].” 
 - Always Live

"Music First"

Ryan Bisio sits at one of the outdoor tables in front of Osio Cinemas sipping on his coffee and smoking a cigarette. He has the looks of a pop superstar and is dressed like he just came from a GQ fashion shoot, wearing a chocolate corduroy jacket over a flannel shirt, sea-green polyester slacks, brown cowboy boots and his signature Newsies – style grey beret.

He even has groupies: A doe-eyed girl named Natasha sits near the musician as he is being interviewed, obviously smitten and hanging on his every word.

“What a sweetheart,” Bisio says as she walks away with a love-struck look.

Most nights of the week, Bisio is glued to his acoustic guitar, playing in front of admiring fans at venues like Monterey Live, East Village and Fuse Lounge. He’s become a musical fixture around town, with a modern folky sound that is both crisp and recognizable.

The 27-year-old now seems poised to take his star higher. Accompanying the release of his new album, The Rose Side of the Thorn – which will be unveiled 9pm Thursday at Monterey Live – is a 12-track digital album, B-Side the Point, available only on iTunes.

“[The album] is about love, honesty, addiction and heartbreak, and that there are two sides to every meaning,” he says before relighting his Camel. “It doesn’t sound like it but [the album] is meant to be optimistic and a promise for more work to come.”

Bisio says Thorn, which he started working on in 2006, is very different from his first album. Sketches was a solo-acoustic project; on this CD, several standout local musicians contribute, including Keith Bruecker (aka Ehrman Hall), Andrea Blunt, Sean Stillinger and Bisio’s younger brother, Gianni. In addition to guitar and vocals, Bisio plays piano, banjo, accordion and bass guitar on several tracks.

“To be able to get all this work out was really a cleansing experience,” Bisio says. “The songs have been inside me for a long time.”

Thorn is unapologetic in its obsessiveness, which makes it an honest portrait of Bisio: He’s someone who chooses music over everything else in his life. On the somber piano tune “If,” he sings: “If I lived for you/ I would have nothing to give.’’ The lyrics on the album – usually backed by mellow instrumentals – are windows into Bisio’s philosophy.

Not too long ago, he had an epiphany while sitting in the small basement-room he rents in Carmel Valley.

“I have no attachments in my life right now except for my music,” he says. “I don’t own anything in this room except my clothes and my songs, which sets the perfect stage for me to able to go on the road. I’m single, I’m happy and I’m not paying much for my living expenses.

“I cannot commit to anything except my work,” he adds later. “There’s no way I can share music; I must be faithful and be celibate for the sake of my music.”

And Bisio’s prolific songwriting continues: He’s already begun work on another album and has plans to go on a nationwide tour. - Monterey County Weekly

"Longtime Local Favorite"

Ryan Bisio, on the other hand, is tougher to pin down, most likely on purpose. A professed admirer of Tom Waits, Bisio, a former Monterey Peninsula resident who now calls the San Francisco Bay Area his home, sometimes sounds like he's more of a Paul Simon/Jack Johnson-style pop-folkie, then whips out something like the quirky, bluesy "Slow Down Big Germany" that sounds like it came off an old Country Joe & The Fish record.

And his "Matchstick Mr." is pure Dave Matthews Band, furiously picked acoustic guitar, staccatto vocals and big bold drums, bass and sax. The only thing missing is the electric fiddle.

Plus, Bisio is known for his phenomenal guitar playing as well as his lively onstage patter and stories. I would say this evening is 5 bucks well spent. - Monterey County Herald

"Talent Scouts"

On April 7 of this year, CSUMB’s Music Hall felt like the set of American Idol. For five hours that day, Sara Bailey, the president of Fog Box Records and a CSUMB senior, along with her executive engineer Matt Bollwinkel, watched as a parade of musical acts applied for a spot on the new local label.

Responding to fliers plastered all over the CSUMB campus and an ad on the Web site Craig’s List, almost 20 solo artists and bands dropped by to compete for a few coveted spots. Bailey and Bollwinkel sat through a slew of performances, including a set by a Christian rock band and an operatic version of a pop song performed by a solo female singer. They were bowled over by the enthusiasm of Saving Sea Turtles, a one-man-band made up of a CSUMB student who played ska and punk rock on an acoustic guitar. According to Bailey, Saving Sea Turtles was head-banging during an intense section of one of his numbers when he inadvertently slammed his head into a microphone stand.

But there were two performances and one demo CD that really impressed Bailey and Bollwinkel that afternoon. One was a set by a female singer/songwriter from Southern California named Christina Bailey. As it happens, Christina Bailey is Sara Bailey’s sister-in-law, though they had never met.

“Christina had flawless vocals,” Bailey says. “She just gave everyone the chills.”

Bailey was amazed with her sister-in-law’s performance, but thought that signing Christina would be a conflict of interest. Bailey decided to leave the decision of whether to sign the artist in the hands of her staff. “They voted unanimously to sign her, because she was that good,” she says.

Singer/songwriter Ryan Bisio and his backing band also made a strong impression. “[Bisio] is just naturally entertaining,” Bollwinkel says.

Local hip hop/soul artist A. Lee and her band dropped off a demo CD that also blew the duo away. “The new stuff they had,” Bollwinkel begins, “had gotten better, better, better,” Bailey finishes.

Bailey signed her sister-in-law Christina as well as Bisio and A. Lee to her label. Recently, Fog Box also inked The Blunts, a sister/brother duo composed of CSUMB student Andrea Blunt, who sings and plays piano, and her brother Jake, who sings and plays guitar and violin.

“It’s hard to describe their music,” Bailey says. “It’s playful at times but complex.”

This Wednesday, the four acts will perform at Monterey Live at an event titled Fog Box Presents. The label will showcase their artists at the venue every last Wednesday of the month. Monterey Live will also host CD-release parties for the Fog Box label-mates in the upcoming months. The first will occur over a two-day period this Dec. 14 and 15, when A. Lee drops her debut album, The Channel. “There are only 90 seats in Monterey Live, so we did two nights so that everyone can come,” Bailey says.

Meanwhile, Christina Bailey’s CD is scheduled for an early 2007 release, while The Blunts and Bisio will have CDs out by mid-year.

“We are going to have tiered releases,” says Bailey, who created the label as her CSUMB capstone project. She adds that there is only one common element to all the acts signed to Fog Box. “They’re all good,” she says.

Bailey is applying for nonprofit status and intends to sell the label’s CDs for the very low price of $10. “We want to make sure prices are low enough that people actually listen to them,” she says.

She intends to keep Fog Box going after she graduates from CSUMB this December. “This is definitely a life project now,” she insists. “It’s no longer a student project.” - Stuart Thornton-Monterey County Weekly

"Bisio Captivates Audiences with "Rose Side of the Thorn""

Amidst the array of artists who play regularly at Monterey Live is Ryan Bisio. His music is a sweet and soulful blend of acoustic guitar, piano balladry, blues, folk, and jazz. This singer/songwriter started his musical career playing piano at the age of six, which he won, interestingly enough, in the Junior Olympics. As a child, the classically trained artist began playing Beethoven and Frederic Chopin, was influenced by Michael Jackson, inspired to play guitar by Dave Mathews’ Crash, and is somehow highly moved by the gloomy and sinister sounding Tom Waits. Bisio’s love for the written word as a talented writer also produces touching, poignant, and emotional lyrics that anyone can easily melt to if they’ve ever been in love.

Bisio’s first album, Sketches, released in 2005, is described as sketches of the portrait he would later make in his songwriting. He depicts that album as being made deliberately rough, the way a painter sketches a portrait he will eventually paint, because as he puts it, “I wasn’t a painter then.”

Well, if he didn’t consider himself a painter then, he is definitely one now. His new album, Rose Side of the Thorn, is set for release in early April. It’s a musical collection of 16 songs from the last 3 ½ years of his life, as he describes them touching upon an array of spectrums, genres, emotions, and stories. The album title symbolizes the “good and bad, black and white, the rose and the thorn, the honesty of life,” and the two sides of everything as there is “no love without pain, you can’t have joy without sorrow.”

Bisio’s songs were first introduced in Europe last year when he played both music and basketball professionally in Copenhagen.

Fortunately for us in the Monterey Bay you can listen to his new album monthly at Monterey Live. His performances are intimate, captivating, and endearing, as the artist contains the ability to both lull the audience in melodic performance, and crack a joke or two between songs. He incorporates the groove oriented, tap-your-feet, guitar playing influence of Dave Mathews with the gentle and heartrending inspiration of Elliot Smith.

It’s no surprise that Bisio is a talented songwriter because he is also a talented writer in general, avidly writing short stories and letters to friends and family. “If I’m not writing in general I’m probably not writing songs.”

With each song containing its own personality, he listens to his music as it tells him what to write.

“I treat my songs like people, I treat them the way that I would want to be treated, they all have different personalities, they were all conceived in different places…they’ve all been born in different ways and I have to treat them differently and I have to make them all get along with each other which isn’t always easy.”

Now that a good amount of Rose Side of the Thorn has been introduced to audiences in Europe and Monterey, Ryan Bisio will be touring it this spring in Seattle, San Diego, Chicago, Denver, and other spots in between.

I asked Ryan what ultimately moves him as an artist and what allows to him to constantly create such moving music. Simply put, he said “I do it to perform, I do it to express, I do it to try to heal people. I do it to try to make them feel good. And in the end it makes myself feel like…myself.”

Check out Ryan Bisio before he goes on tour March 4th at Monterey Live 414 Alvarado Street. Show starts at 8:30pm.

Rose Side of the Thorn available soon!

- Live en Vivo Music Magazine

"Giving it his All"

ven if you haven't heard singer-songwriter Ryan Bisio's music, you might be familiar with his name from the sports pages. Bisio, from Arcata in Humboldt County, is attending California State University, Monterey Bay, on a basketball scholarship and is one of the Otters' star players. He is celebrating the end of a successful season with the release of his debut CD "Sketches" and a weekly Thursday gig at Morgan's Coffee and Tea in Monterey.

Bisio began his music career at age 6 when he received classical piano lessons. However, as he got older, he became increasingly involved in school sports, which eventually led to his college scholarship. "I was always busy with basketball," Bisio said, "but I always knew that I would eventually come back to music."

At age 19, he picked up the guitar for the first time. "I guess it just immediately made sense to me after studying piano when I was younger, and I just started writing songs right away."

Bisio's renewed interest in music led to his attending CSUMB as a music major. He also began looking for places to perform and started to attend open mic sessions. "My first public performance was in Santa Rosa in 2003, and after that I just started going around the coffee shops and open mics," he said. In April of this year, he started playing his own shows. In addition to his weekly Morgan's show, he regularly returns to Humboldt County for weekend engagements. A close friend acts as his manager, and "we're trying to find new places around California for me to play."

Bisio's CD was recorded during his spare time over the course of this academic year. He recorded the album at home on a portable digital multi-track recorder and played most of the instruments himself. "It's a very modest effort," Bisio said modestly, "but I really wanted to make the first (album) solo - a kind of stake in the ground to show where my progress is to date."

The result is, as the title suggests, a 14-track sketchbook of Bisio's songwriting. Studio trickery and lush production are eschewed in favor of a stripped-down sound that highlights both the intensity of his songs and the honesty of his performance. A cut from the album "Backwards Letters" is proving to be a favorite with audiences and also has appeared on a compilation CD, "Unexploded Ordinance," featuring artists from CSUMB.

At his live shows, Bisio plays a mixture of his original songs and covers of music by his favorite artists. "Audiences like familiar music," he said, "so even though I try to play as many original songs as possible, I'll throw in, say, a Dave Matthews cover once in a while to catch their attention."

Bisio is set to graduate from CSUMB in the spring of 2006 and hopes to make music his career.

"I'm going to give it a shot, you know," he said. "I mean, I'm confident that I could work as a basketball coach or something like that, but I want to give the music a try and just see what happens." - Andrew Gilhooley-411 Entertainment

"The Singer Songwriter"

Though Ryan Bisio came to CSUMB as a basketball player, the self-described “prolonged senior” will leave the school next fall as an accomplished singer/songwriter. Bisio, looking the part in a frayed corduroy jacket and a gray cap at a table outside of Monterey’s Morgan’s Coffee & Tea, tells me about his transition from all-state basketball star attending school on a sports scholarship to musician with one self-produced CD under his belt and another on the way.

Before attending CSUMB, Bisio’s first foray into music was playing Dave Matthews and Beatles’ covers at Santa Rosa coffee shops. Bisio admits that moving to Monterey to attend college inspired him to start creating his own compositions. “I didn’t write any songs until I came to Monterey,” he says.

Bisio believes that two experiences spurred him to write his own numbers. One was hearing quirky songwriter Tom Waits for the first time in 2003. “His music gave me courage to put myself out there,” he says. “He just kicked a door open in my head that I don’t think will ever be shut.”

Another was witnessing a fatal motorcycle accident from the balcony of his Monterey apartment. That incident inspired him to write his first original tune, the downbeat “Backward Letters.”

A couple years later, Bisio released his first CD, the 14-song Sketches, which was self-produced and recorded in his apartment.

Now Bisio is working on his sophomore album, Big Face Invitation, which he expects to release next fall or winter. “It’s got a fuller sound,” he says. “It’s me exploring my percussive side, and it’s me writing better songs.” - Stuart Thornton-Monterey County Weekly

"A Dragon of Originality"

During its tumultuous and less-than-profitable run, Monterey Live served the community in a fundamentally important way, by bringing diverse and exemplary brands of music back to Monterey. (See news story)
From sold-out family parties with Rachel Marotta to a nearly empty house for Ween’s Claude Coleman. From after-hours shots with Supertramp guitarist Carl Verheyen to dangerously overcrowded (and fire-hazard rich) crowd-surfing adventures with Tornado Rider. From Tony Bennett’s birthday surprise performance of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” to a nameless touring musician asking sheepishly, “Do you mind if I just play a few? I never get to hear myself through this good of a sound system.”
“Sure,” I say. Listening to hard-fought songs on that cracked concrete floor. I spend an hour watching overdressed shadows head for some other somewhere.
I manned this club from the door, the stage, the kitchen, the bar, and the manager’s chair. It couldn’t last. There were too few people and too many bills. There were too many receipts, and too high a price for such a subtle bliss. Not at 414 Alvarado St. Not in the 831 or the 939. Not in the Central Coast in a recession. This was a New York club in a vacation getaway.
“Know what you need to do?”
I muddle some lemons.
“What’s that?” I glare.
“You need to have more bands that play that old ’60s music.”
I rim a martini glass with sugar and pour on the alcohol.
“That’s a good idea,” sarcasm like cement.
“I’ll suggest that to the owner.”
I slide another Electric Lemonade his way, as choirs of artful melody thicken his booze-waxed ears. There’s another unknown Da Vinci on stage. Another Sara McCoy, another Suborbital, another Andrea Blunt, another and another and another. Just another chance to catch brilliance in its most infantile and purest form, this was an opportunity that most people did not take.
I’ve seen asteroids of brilliance creep unknown from off this Top-40 slimed street and deliver God’s honest truth in 45-minute sets. I’ve seen a sheepish tadpole named Ryan Bisio grow legs and flower into a dragon of originality. I’ve seen the envy of Jimi Paige shred through Zane Carney’s unassuming fingers. I’ve seen the Vermillion Lies burlesque chants and cunning youth become the envy of San Francisco. Perhaps strangest of all, I’ve seen Rushad Eggleston march through the bar in his tighty-whities, just to see my reaction.
“Did you like it?” he sincerely asks, and waits for my answer.
“I thought it was great,” a winded smile hopefully conveying the rest. Music picks up where words stop, carrying Helio’s thundering steeds into the first cloudless horizon before forever. Out in that infinity there’s a sparrow warring with hurricanes; his name is Appreciation, and he is mine.
Simply put, I’ve seen the best musicians on the planet walk into this small, empty club and show a few confused witnesses what music is.
I’ve also seen two owners lose everything trying to keep this dream real. Seen them strain their relationships with employees and family. Seen them gray and wrinkle five years worth for every one they spent trying to bail water from their fractured ship. I’ve seen doors kicked down in frustration, spider webs grasped at like prayers, and the maroon paint turn white with desperation.
I crunched the numbers. I futzed with the numbers. I skewed the numbers. I bent the numbers backward and re-laced them into highly optimistic shoes. The club lost money. The club became more and more profitable every year, but the club lost money. Had this been the lifelong passion of a retired multi-millionaire, maybe, but after just four years of business, Monterey Live is closed.
There are other clubs with great bands, and other ways to enjoy live music, but none with a “stage-first” design. None with the artist checks clearing while the employee checks bounced, none with an owner willing to risk a personal loss for the beauty of a vision.
“There was a club,” they’ll say. “A great little music club.”
“It wasn’t run right.”
“They needed to advertise more.”
“They didn’t book the right bands.”
“They didn’t know when to let go.”
All just whispers and conjecture. In the end it failed like many beautiful things, the ghost of a Mexican brothel trying to sing into forgiveness. Monterey Live is survived by the spirit of its appreciators. It has vanished into the subwoofers of some trendy dance club. All the same, thank you Monterey Live for the opportunity. You are missed. - Monterey County Weekly

"Ryan Bisio"

School friends knew Ryan Bisio as a basketball playing jock, at St. Bernard's High School in Eureka. In his heart, he had music.

Sound familiar? There's an entire Disney movie empire built upon a similar idea. The difference is that Bisio's movement toward playing music was spearheaded not by a pretty girl, but by his entire collection of CDs being stolen from his car shortly before he turned 20.

”I had no music,” says Bisio. “It was probably a blessing because I don't even know what I was listening to at the time, like Method Man, but after I got my CDs stolen, somebody gave me a compilation CD, a burned CD with a ton of random music on it, and although I'd heard the song 'Crash' a lot in my life, for some reason at that point when I heard it, I was just like 'Whoa, I really want to play, not only this song, but I was to physically feel what it feels like to play that.'”

That Dave Matthews Band song influenced Bisio to ask for a guitar for his birthday. His father bought him the guitar, which he says “made sense” as soon as he picked it up.

”I played classical piano when I was a really little kid, when I was like 6 years old, but I wasn't performing, and I wasn't writing songs,” says Bisio. “I was really into the athletic endeavor at that time and I think those who were even closest to me when I used to live up there, I don't even think they knew how much of an influence music was on me at that time. I kind of kept it on the hush, acting like a jock.”
Now 27 years old, Bisio lives in Monterey, where he eventually ended up after graduating from high school locally and accepting a sports scholarship, out of the area.

”I kind of bounced around for a while, but I ended up getting a scholarship to Cal State Monterey Bay, where I got a degree in...contemporary music,” says Bisio. “From there, I actually ended up playing (basketball) professionally in Europe for a season.

”Once I got into college and started to realize I didn't win the genetic lottery, my days were certainly numbered...I kind of went back to where I knew I was going to come back to, which was music.”

As a recovering jock and aspiring musician, Bisio's challenge was trying to convince people that he wasn't a rapper--a “weird connotation” that he says goes along with being an athlete.

Bisio, who is audibly influenced by Dave Matthews (especially on a new track called “Matchbox Mr.”), Elliott Smith and currently Tom Waits, released his first solo album in 2005 and toured the U.S., over to Europe, and through most of California--everywhere but his own hometown.

In the past two months, he's released two more full-length albums, “Rose Side of the Thorn” and “B-Side the Point,” which Bisio says were a few years in the making. “Rose Side of the Thorn” is a 13-track album that was pressed onto CD, which Bisio has on the road with him. “B-Side the Point” is a digital-only release that consists of the rest of the songs that didn't follow the theme of the “Rose” album.

Bisio is currently touring to promote “Rose Side of the Thorn” and finally playing in Humboldt, after about 10 years gone. His show tomorrow night at the Jambalaya in Arcata is a CD release show, where the $10 cover will also buy show-goers a copy of the album.

While Bisio often tours solo, he will be joined on this trip by bass player Tim Poulton, piano player and keyboardist Andrea Blunt and drummer Skylar Campbell, all of whom also contributed to the new recordings.

”I'm really excited (to play in Humboldt),” says Bisio. “There's a lot of stuff that's happened from a distance, with my career, and hopefully this is an opportunity not only to see me play, but to follow me from here on out.”

The show at the Jambalaya will start around 10 p.m. and it is a 21-and-over show.

Bisio can be checked out online at www.ryanbisio.com or www.myspace.com/ryanbisio . - Northern Lights

"Taking Center Stage"

Taking center stage

Former CSU-Monterey Bay point guard Ryan Bisio has turned in his hightops for a microphone, as he will open for Grammy Award winner Shelby Lynne.

A singer-song writing guitarist, Bisio will perform at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Friday.

A music major at CSUMB, Bisio played basketball for four years for the Otters - Monterey County Herald

"Filling the Void"

As Ryan Bisio sat outside Monterey’s East Village Coffee Lounge-the swanky coffee shop that replaced the more laid-back Morgan’s- it was hard to envision him as a former standout basketball player.
Dressed in a long-sleeved collared shirt, ripped jeans and tan cowboy boots, the 25-year-old Bisio lit up the first of two cigarettes he’d smoke during that hour long chat.
“Basically, if I dribbled a ball, I’d probably knock a tooth out right now,” Bisio joked, talking about his two-year stint as a member of the California State University Monterey Bay, basketball team.
Bisio hasn’t played basketball for CSUMB since the end of the 2004-2005 season, preferring instead to focus on playing music.
He released his debut album “Sketches” around the time the season ended and is now working on his second album “The Rose Side of the Thorn.”
“Playing basketball and being a musician simultaneously really felt like I was leading a double life,” Bisio said.
“I felt like I was cheating something all the time, and no matter what it was, I was so involved in both those things that I just was waiting for the day where I could just put all my eggs in one basket and just go after music, specifically. I knew there was going to be a time when music would take over, and I was just waiting for that exact time.”
Since releasing “Sketches”, a home-recorded, acoustic CD, Bisio has played for then 50 shows throughout the state, many of them in the Monterey Bay area and Southern California. In that year and a half, he’s also acquired a backing band, something he said helped him get used to not playing basketball.
“I definitely felt the effects of not being on a team anymore and that’s where my band mates really helped me out”, Bisio said. “Being a part of a team in that way was kind of a sanctuary that I really needed at the time. I felt a void that needed to be filled and music has always filled every void I’ve ever had in one way or another.”
Bisio’s band mates are 22-year-old Jasper Skydecker of Pacific Grove, 21-year-old bassist Tim Poulton of Salinas and 29-year-old saxophonist David Eaton of Monterey. Bisio, who primarily plays guitar, and also plays piano, ukulele, and harmonica.
With the inclusion of three more musicians and a variety of instruments for the recording of “The Rose Side of the Thorn”, Bisio said the process has been much different than from making of his debut.
While “Sketches” had a raw, lo-fi quality to it, the setting for “Rose”-recorded in a Berkeley studio , and in the Music Hall of CSUMB’s campus- has given new songs a fuller and more polished sound, he said.
Having engineers and people that run in with ponytails and butt cracks showing to change your mic, these people catering to you and your sound, it’s very interesting.” Bisio said. “I still have as lot to learn in that studio setting. I feel pretty self-reliant as far as recording by myself on a machine, but to do it in this matter, you really have to be careful when recording the songs because the integrity of the songs can be lost very quickly when your strategically and surgically, like, putting them together in that manner.”
Bisio said he’s hoping to finish up the recording by the end of this month and release the album in January. He’d like to package the CD, he said, with a collection of short stories, journal entries and songs he’s working on, titled, “Observations”.
With so many literary and musical influences- Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac and Dave Matthews, for instance- Bisio said “The Rose Side of the Thorn” is beginning to sound a little “scatterbrained”.
“There’s piano balladry, there’s straight ahead jazz, there’s some, dare I say, Dave Matthews-esque guitar playing, some up-temp funk, there’s some stripped down acoustic stuff”, Bisio said. “I can’t hone in on a sound right now. I want to make too much stuff and basically I’ve come to comfort in that, knowing I’m going to make what I need to make and what feels right at that time.”
And Bisio, sounding a tad ashamed, said his cigarettes have been a companion to the diversity of song styles.
Unfortunately for me and my Mom, who really takes offense to me smoking, smoking cigarettes has just gone hand in hand with the songwriting process”, he said. “I can’t think of one song I’ve written without a cigarette in my hand.”
“Maybe it’s a crutch, but I like the songs I write.”

- Leslie Escobar-Ink Entertainment

"Kerouak In Song"

How Monterey local Ryan Bisio found a life in music is as singular a story as the song’s he’s woven into his second album “Rose Side of the Thorn”. Though, as Bisio would have it, “it is music that found me”. Not exactly an uncommon remark for a musician to make to be sure; his argument however is a convincing one.

When he was six years old, Bisio won the gold medal in the Junior Olympics for bowling. His prize- a Yamaha upright piano which he received classical training: Back, Chopin, etc. It is here that his life as a musician began, tied inextricably and for better or worse, to his life as an athlete. Not that athleticism and musicianship are all that typical or sibling skills to possess- and not that his athleticism has anything at all to do with his life’s passion for songwriting and performance. In fact, just the opposite is true of the 27 year old singer/songwriter.

“When I first got to the Peninsula in 2003, I was only recognized as a basketball player.” A coincidence he doesn’t necessarily want to be associated with and one that ultimately, he feels “detracts from the music.” Still, it is on a basketball scholarship when he was 22 years old, that Bisio came to Monterey to earn his Bachelor of Arts degree from the “still primitive” music department of California State University Monterey Bay- a then primarily jazz based department.

Bisio was among the first CSUMB students to graduate from a music program which now boasts atypical and eclectic acts like James Meder, Jam Squad, and Andrea Blunt. While the department was not the thriving outlet for creativity and recording it has now become, according to Bisio, “It helped me understand and realize what I was already doing and put it in terms. I really trust my instincts musically; [CSUMB] taught me how to speak the language…and illuminated where I wanted to go.”

While it is perhaps comfortable and all too common for people to associate Ryan Bisio with the sport, perhaps the most significant consideration to be gleaned from his pro-ball days is the size and versatility of his hands which have enabled him to take his guitar playing where precious few musicians are able. His ability to play chords with the use of his thumb, thus freeing up an entire finger on the fret board, has created for Bisio a wholly unique and recognizable sound.

Though from this sound it would seem that a guitar, and not the piano, was his first instrument, Bisio hadn’t even picked up a guitar until receiving one for his 20th birthday, at which point he began writing songs almost immediately. “Within a week or two I wrote a really silly song called “Teresa” or something like that. It made sense. That is what I was meant to do with the instrument. I had never written a song before I got a guitar.” Playing regularly at Monterey Live and the Alternative Café focuses him on bringing something new to the table each week. The piano has now become more than anything a way of “cleansing [his] palate in a live set.” Whereas his guitar is more or less “an extension of my own body” he says.

Ryan Bisio’s songwriting style on guitar may be compared to Dave Matthews’ and Ben Harper’s in that it is sort of stop-rhythm folk/blues style with subtle jazz undertones- it is anything but perfunctory, though it resonates freely and comfortably. The built-in pulse of his songs for guitar is a sound that audiences can’t help but fall into. For a songwriter who feels “like the messenger in this gig,” Bisio asserts he won’t write a song until the guitar tells him what it’s about.

“The guitar needs to speak to me,” he says, “I will not force words [until the song tells me] if it’s happy, sad, night, or day, strait, or gay. I rely on my guitar playing to tell me what the song is about.” For a musician who claims “Music, more than anything, will always be there for me. It’s the healthiest relationship I’ve had in my life,” it’s fitting that the word “love” appears in 13 out of the 16 songs on the new album.

His first album, “Sketches” available now only on Itunes, was self produced and recorded in 2005 and was primarily “Putting a stake in the ground-here I am.” While his debut album may have been very “bare bones” according to its creator, the rough ideas, and poignant lyricism of the first album may now be seen in a widely new light with the release of “Rose Side of the Thorn”.

“You close your eyes and see a pencil and paper,” Bisio says of his first album undertaking. The sketches drawn on that first album however, are anything but crude. His song “Simple as it Feels” features the chorus “I wish our love was as simple as it feels.” The emotion is something he claims “Everyone has felt…whether with a woman, a dog, or with God.” A simplistic idea perhaps, but one spoken with such authority, and in such medley with his guitar that one can’t help but take the words to heart.

While the songwriter is recovering from a self-proclaimed “sophomore slump,” in that it has taken Bisio three years to record between albums, for Bisio, who completely agrees with the Jack Kerouac school of thought in that “rewrites or revisions are a sin,” this album promises to be a masterful one.

“I took a lot of time to make sure this one is right. I will never be satisfied with where I am as a musician,” says the man whose biggest dream is going on the road and never coming back. Still, the 831 will always play home to the singer/songwriter.

“It’s not the cliché scenery” that inspires him, he says. “It’s simply that songs have always been here to find and to have. As long as they’re here, I’ll be here.”

- Matt Paruolo- 831 Magazine



Ryan Bisio knows music.  His degree in contemporary music, his seven studio releases, and his touring with Grammy winning artists proves it.  But it’s the Arcata native’s most recent projects that are showcasing his intimate and nuanced relationship with music.

Bisio also knows basketball. As a former collegiate and professional basketball player, he has brought his passion and knowledge of the game home, to coaching Arcata High School boys’ basketball team to its third consecutive championship season. In an effort to combine the two things that drive him, Bisio has embarked on his most ambitious project to date, writing a book titled, ‘The Musicality of the Game’ – a project that perfectly connects his unique life experience in both music, and basketball.  “This is the project I’ve waited my whole life to do.  The process of writing this book has connected me to a deeper level of understanding in not only music and basketball, but also people and the human experience.”

In April of 2017, Ryan released a digital live album, recorded at the Arcata Playhouse, and also has a finished studio album titled ‘Bona Fide’ slated for future release.  Bisio wrote and tested some of the material for Bona Fide as an opening act for the multi-platinum Icelandic band, Kaleo.  “That experience made all those late nights trying to unlock the secrets of songwriting worth it.  To be a part of music at that level, affirmed all of the instincts that have led me down this road – using music as a vehicle for self, life, and basketball exploration.”

Bisio is currently getting his Masters Degree in coaching, and is working on new material for future albums.