Indiana Music: Catching up with Jimmy Ryser

Musical success came to Jimmy Ryser in 1990 with the release of his self-titled debut CD. The first single, “Same Old Look,” hit number 26 on the Billboard chart. The album sold over 100,000 copies.

But the national stage was short-lived. While music has continued to play a role in Ryser’s life, he broadened his career. He also got off of painkillers, clean for more than 10 years.

Now, Ryser is the program manager for Pain Services at IU Health Methodist, after earning his Master’s degree in Counseling at John Carroll University.

We’ve read Jim post on Facebook about new music, so we decided to catch up with the Ohio-born Hoosier to see what it was all about.

RN: Any new songs and new original music in your future?
Jimmy Ryser: Absolutely, quite by accident. I had gotten in touch with Bill Winke, a well-known archery hunter, who hosts an Internet and TV series called Midwest Whitetail. I had sent Bill a copy of my “1965 – now” CD and he asked if he could use my music for the show. I told him I would go one better and do writing exclusively for his show.

That was two years ago, and I write nearly all the music for the Internet, and all of it for TV. Another CD will likely be a result.

I just sent in a piece that had bagpipes, a little boy singing, a drum loop I created, and violin. The producers at MW absolutely loved it. Then I go hillbilly with a fiddle, a dobro, and a Jew’s harp. Then orchestral. There is nothing in the digital age you can’t do.

Winke provides lots of ideas, I get more while sitting (and hunting) in a tree, and then I come home and go crazy. Best stuff I have ever done.

RN: Are you playing live shows?
JR: I mostly do private shows and the occasional gig. I like Zanna-doo. I play with those guys and gals every year for the 9/11 tribute and always love it. But my priorities are recovery, family, hunting, Midwest Whitetail, and (then) playing out.
I expect a few more gigs next year (including) the benefit of Recovering Nurses Now; I hope to make it yearly. I am a huge fan of the nurse who has addiction and chooses recovery. I will go to the wall for them.

RN: What have you been listening to?
JR: I love country music. Lady Antebellum has to be my favorite. Love Zac Brown as well. And so many folks compare my old stuff to Rascal Flatts – although Gary LeVox absolutely blows me out of the water, I am humbled by the comparison. And Rush and Pink Floyd still roll me.

I just checked my CD player in my truck. Methods of Mayhem, Henry Lee Summer, my stuff for the (TV) show, Sade, and Tony Rich Project are in my changer.

RN: When you record, how do you do it? Are you at home? Studio?
JR: I like both. I updated my recording studio and am having more fun with music than I ever had, including the Arista days. I have worked with Andy Symons since I was 18. He and I have done stuff at the lodge studios, including my best CD Chameleon. And he has mixes here at home.

Both have their charms but at the end of the day I love doing stuff here at home. The magic happens and then it is in stone – no demos, just what is. And I like it that way. I play everything myself.