Ryan Tennis @ The Ware Center

On Friday, November 2nd, Philadelphia native and singer/songwriter Ryan Tennis visited Lancaster to perform at the Ware Center. Those who live in Lancaster know how the Ware Center operates and how they bring in a huge music crowd. Combine that with the fact that it was also “First Friday” and you get a pretty good audience for Tennis. What was odd though was that he had to share the stage with a bunch of little ballet girls. Nothing wrong with that and the girls performed beautifully, but the girls and their parents weren’t necessarily there for him and so he had to really work to get people on his side.

When dealing with any singer/songwriter as a opposed to some full band, the live presence is different because it’s just a man playing guitar and singing and so having an arsenal of really good songs is what you need in order to win a crowd over and I think that’s exactly what he did.

I’ve been seeing Ryan Tennis almost every year since 2008 and every time he gets better and better. His songwriting is improving dramatically, his voice is solid and he’s very captivating. He also just released a new album through Milkboy records, which he gave to me to review so that review will be coming up shortly.

His show consisted of a few twenty minute slots in between three ballet performances. In total he played about twenty or some odd songs, most of which were new ones of his new record, some were old favorites of mine, and he also dropped a few covers in as well. Tennis is a big Paul Simon fan and so he covered “Graceland” and “The Boy in the Bubble”, which if you know anything about Paul Simon you know how huge those songs are and I think he performed them perfectly. I’d never heard those songs like that and I quite enjoyed that sound.

One thing I think is unique about a guy like Tennis is that the songs he writes can take two completely different shapes whether performed solo or with a full band and most of the time his albums have a full band so being able to see him perform these songs solo and then hear them with a full band take on two really unique lives. I think it’s hard for an artist to write songs that perfectly fit both sides of that particular spectrum and I think that has to be some sort of testament to his songwriting. There’s plenty of people that do that, but there aren’t a lot who do it well and I think Tennis is one of those songwriters.

Well that’s enough of me for this week. Thanks for getting back in the groove with me.

Luke Helker

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