Ruth Wyand trailblazing with words on First Fridays on Stage

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Kill Devil Hills musician Ruth Wyand is a trailblazing singer and songwriter who uses a melting pot of styles mostly incorporating fingerpicking and bottleneck slide into her original work.

She is an insightful storyteller who tells relatable stories with great skillful guitar playing and genuine lyrics that listeners can’t help but toe-tap to. Wyand has played all over the place, from bars to theatres influenced by some of music’s best contributors from Rosetta Tharpe, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday to Doc Watson.

Wyand’s sound is all her own, and she will tell you it was 100 years ago when she became a musician.

Along with her great sense of humor comes an electrifying eclectic style from different genres. In her words, the Paranoia Street singer shares with us the music which influenced her sound. As you tune into this conversation you will hear her heart on the strings of the guitar.

So, can you tell us a story about your background and how you became a musician?

“Well, it was about 100 years ago. Now, I started playing when I was in elementary school and there was a program that gave the school some instruments. A local music store gave the school some instruments and at that time I got a flute to play the boys got the guitars and the girls got the flutes and clarinets. So, eventually, I ended up getting a guitar and I started taking lessons and you know I just kept it up the whole way.

“I have just been experimenting with so many different genres of music American music styles my whole life. I started out very interested in jazz and blues and just all kinds of roots music I love. I call myself an orange-haired musicologist because I love reading bios and biographies about musicians, especially women musicians, jazz and blues musicians. You know I just try to read as much history about our own musical heritage or are you know our American music that I love so you know I try to play as much as I can.”

Is there a blues musician that you absolutely love and is there one that stands out to you in particular?

“Yeah, mainly Matthis Minnie and Sister Rosetta Tharpe have been major influences on me on my playing and their life stories and I love their music.”

So, every song you perform do you write all of your music?

“I do write, I do perform some traditional blues and jazz songs and, you know I just kind of run the gimmick of you know probably about 70% of original songs and then throw in some covers.”

Is there a favorite song of yours that’s like from back in the day from your favorite musician that you just absolutely love to play?

“There’s a song I love to sing and I try to open up my shows with it because it’s a good guitar warm-up and a good vocal warm-up for me. It’s “Nobody’s fault but mine” it’s one of the ones that make everything flow. I know Nina Simone has sung so many people out there have sung it but the one that sticks to me is the one Nina Simone’s version of it.”

How do you write your songs?

“Well, I usually start out writing a guitar part and then the lyrics come later. I mean that’s probably about 95% of the way I write it’s very rare that I have a subject that I want to write about because it comes to me musically rather than you know I’m not gonna walk down the street and say I wanna write a song about you know a store or something I just, it comes to me musically rather than a story and then usually the story comes from the music whether its something that brings back a memory and then you know that becomes the story.”

How would you describe your style and define a melting pot of styles? and What is your style of guitar playing?

“Well, it’s there’s a style called Piedmont Picking it’s uh thumb style type where the thumb does a base runs, and then your picking with your hand with your other fingers and so it’s a cross-genre of like Piedmont blues picking and there’s kind of a banjo style called claw hammer. It’s old, I wouldn’t say it’s an old bluegrass technique but bluegrass has its opposite but it’s an old technique for banjo so I incorporate the Piedmont thumb picking with the claw hammer banjo and I also play bottleneck slide guitar with the slide which is a bottleneck.”

Do you tune your instruments according to what you’re getting ready to play at the time?

“Yeah, and sometimes it kind of convenient to you know, like if I’m doing a show and my husband is able to come with me I can bring like 3 or 4 or 5 guitars with me so I can have them all you know pre-tuned so I don’t have to be on stage and tune. But, if I’m by myself I usually maybe can take 2 or 3 maybe depends on the venue but then I’m always tuning because you know I probably go through about 8 tunings in a show.”

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