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"First of all, Clayton Ryan has a fantastic voice. Just this huge bellow, this vibrato that just resonates... It's ridiculous."

Pretty Fort Weekly

"The lost art of the story song. I could almost hear Gordon Lightfoot singing this."

- Marcus Hummon, Grammy-Award Winning Songwriter

"His lyrics are stories [anyone] can relate to: growing up swimming in rivers, flirting romantic flings, working summer jobs; it's all in there."

- Katie Bense, Local Focus Magazine 

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Not a single word is sung from Clayton Ryan's towering frame that he hasn't seen, heard, or done himself.

 

Raised in the wooded hills of southwestern Iowa, he was shaped not only by a lush, rustic Midwestern backdrop, but also a young enlistment into America's blue-collar crowd. He might have happily lived out his life as a janitor or lumberjack if it weren't for the draw of songwriters in his youth; Chris Whitley, Jim Croce, and Slaid Cleaves regularly cut through the air of his childhood home. His first show came in 2016, a fifteen minute opening set on a sweltering summer night at The Octopus in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Since then, Clayton Ryan has carved himself a stubbornly unique footpath through the American plains. As an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, he has shared the stage with Jalan Crossland, Cristina Vane, Chad Elliott, Ned LeDoux, Jo Dee Messina, Elizabeth Moen, Lacey Nelson, and others across the Americana scene. He has appeared with various groups at Des Moines Art Festival, Big Turn Music Festival, Wild Bill Days, Synesthesia Music & Arts Festival, Wild West Songwriter Fest, Miner Music Festival, Rapid City Stock Show, and Sturgis MusicFest. In 2022 alone, he played over 150 shows from Idaho to Iowa.

His song "The Watchman of Spokane" was featured in American Songwriter Magazine, Americana Music Show, and South Dakota Public Broadcasting. This epic ballad - written about a true 1908 murder in the small mining town of Spokane, South Dakota - was praised by both Grammy Award-Winning songwriter Marcus Hummon and William Fitzsimmons for its "compelling" and "emotional" songwriting, citing similarities to Gordon Lightfoot and Jimmy Webb. 

Along the way, the workhorse writer and composer hasn't set foot outside his dusty-denim and steel-toed boots; between touring he has worked as a janitor, bartender, roofer, railroad crew, painter, radio host, and disaster restoration technician with no plans of staying entirely "work-free." It is from these very roles that Clayton extracts stories of the daily experience and the allure of rustic life, giving them new understanding with his honey n' ash vocals and string mastery.

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