Ryan Chrys has long been a fixture of Denver's music scene. His past bands include Spiv and Demon Funkies. But with his new gig, Ryan Chrys & the Rough Cuts, he's returning to his country roots. Sort of.
“My mom plays guitar and sings,” Chrys says. “Growing up, she'd sing and play songs from Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, etc. I always loved those songs and artists, and they became ingrained in me, but my older brother always listened to hard rock, which I loved as well.”
Ryan Chrys & the Rough Cuts combine the best of both worlds in their new song “Modern Outlaw Country,” whose music video was recently released.
“Over the years, my songwriting has just naturally gone old-school country,” Chrys says. “I didn't plan it; it just started happening. I still like to rock, though, and I can't imagine not having that element in my music.”
“Modern Outlaw Country” names the most well-known artists from outlaw country of the ’60s and ’70s. The video, filmed partly in and around Syntax Physic Opera, is not short on self-deprecating humor worthy of early Dwight Yoakam. In the video, every bandmember has a nickname, but it is the origin of Chrys's own, the “King of Colfax,” that roots the band in Denver lore – and not by virtue of merely living here.
Chrys has played wireless on Colfax Avenue and at events like the Colfax Marathon, Route 40 Music fest, and once a CHUN party.
“Each time, I'd walk out on the street and solo while cars honked at me and stuff,” he says.
Someone on the Colfax Business Improvement District board saw a video of one such performance and asked if the district could use a photo of Chrys in an art campaign promoting the street.
“Thus I became a Colfax stock image, appearing all over upper Colfax in the paper, on banners, online, etc.,” Chrys adds. “Friends would take pictures of the banners and tag me. Then, one time, I played at the Park House on Colfax, and the show promoter, Ed Skibbe, billed me as the 'King of Colfax.' I saw the flier and was like, 'What?!' Not long after, I played another show, and a different promoter did the same, and it just stuck.”
He wrote a song about his nickname, recorded said song – where else? – on Colfax, and shot the video on the street, too. The owner of Brik on York, where Chrys occasionally plays acoustic sets, printed money with his face on it that is usable in the bar, “so now I have my own Colfax money!,” Chrys says.
The band is currently working on its new EP with Jeff Kanan at the Keep studio, with a release planned for fall. Keep up with Ryan Chrys & the Rough Cuts and check out the EP when it's released by visiting roughcutsband.com and signing up for the mailing list.