LAKESIDE — This week Ryan David Orr, singer, songwriter, producer, performer, filmmaker, actor and writer will release his eighth album “Kaden Hollow,” which he describes as “a lyrical indie-folk/alt-country record.”
Fans and followers of Orr, of which there many, got a rare treat at The House restaurant in Show Low on May 31 when he delighted them with a CD pre-release show of the album.
Influenced by his time in Tennessee and the South in general, “Kaden Hollow” is the result of years of work started by Orr.
“It is a set of stories about characters that I kept going back and re-writing. The songs are rootsy, so they they are influenced by the folk in a small rural Tennessee town. It is some of my most favorite songwriting I have ever done,” expressed Orr.
“I want people to know mostly that it comes from a place of love and curiosity and from a place of transformation and healing. It is about the human condition or evolution. It is really honest.”
Once Orr’s endless labor of love was done, he did what many independent musicians and creatives do today and that is to take his project to Kickstarter, a public benefit corporation out of New York which provides a crowdfunding platform to get a project funded. A person submits their project explaining the work and their financial goal with a time limit; friends, family, community supporters or anyone else who learns of the project can donate to help support the project. It gives the funder a buy-in to support a person’s work which they recognize has value and a chance at success. It was an all-or-nothing venture, and in the time allowed, “Kaden Hollow” did not get funded.
Orr had planned for his album, but as an independent artist, his overhead creative costs far exceed what a big record label can afford. Had he been funded through Kirkstarter supporters, the cost of printing, manufacturing and shipping would have substantially eased his outlay – the very thing that often keeps an artist from getting his/her work out there for people to see or hear.
As is said, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and this week the CD release is happening, just in time for Orr’s upcoming West Coast tour where he will have another chance to promote the CD.
Orr is a regular at concerts, festivals, events and any other place where a performer can share their music and other creative endeavors.
Orr was born in Oregon to artistic parents who were, in his words, “nomadic.” They lived in California, Oregon, Tennessee and North Carolina. His mother was a folksinger and songwriter and his father was a photographer, painter and visual artist.
Orr recalled a story he was told by his father about going with him to the University of Oregon to see traditional African drummers when he was only three years old. “Afterwards I asked a lot of questions,” said Orr. “One of the drummers said to my father, ‘In our village these are the ones we teach music to.’”
At age seven Orr started playing the violin, and he was in an elite choir group, but it was when he reached 13 or 14 that he realized that music is what he wanted to do. He began playing guitar, started learning rock songs, and then began writing his own songs.
It was while living in North Carolina where he finished high school that he got involved with his first band – a typical five piece with several different singers. After graduation they headed to New York where they played together, and where Orr realized he wanted to do solo. With that epiphany, he headed to Arizona where his mother was, and where he had to make his own way in the music scene, not having any connections.
Orr made those connections but has also laid the groundwork and grown his creative and business side. Orr got his degree in Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship and Film & Media Studies at Arizona State University. His involvement in the arts in production, promotion and entertainment have allowed him to stay true to his core. His albums are his songs and his production efforts outside of his own are ones that he chooses because he believes in the artist. He enjoys both solo performances and being part of his indie-rock band, The Brighter Still. He won Best Music Video in the White Mountain Film Festival in 2018 and his website says he has had some keen interest from filmmakers.
Grounded in reality, while he continues to make waves in the music world, Orr is an academic advisor and the student activities coordinator in Snowflake for Northland Pioneer College. Using his annual leave wisely, Orr is able to arrange music tours in and out of the country. In 2018 he did a successful 24 show tour in Germany in 25 days and then, on return, made it into a documentary.
What does the future hold for Orr?
“I do not even know,” he said. “I just want to keep making art that I make. Sometimes as an independent artist what you want may go against what is commercial or what people are expecting. It is not to be some head-lining superstar, though that would be great,” he added. “I just want to keep writing and recording, and I have several side projects.”
Orr’s new CD and vinyl can be found at ryandavidorr.bandcamp.com/album/kaden-hollow-2.