Live Review: Ryan Shupe, Livestream, Cottonwood Heights, UT

Material: In a recent holiday performance, Ryan Shupe brought quite the cast of players to his bluegrass extravaganza. Shupe, a fifth-generation fiddle player, knows his way around the genre and can take just about any song and make it work. Accompanied by his sidemen, RubberBand, in addition to seasonal favorites, Shupe showcased generic numbers full of uplifting sentiments. “In Dream Big,” a song of hope (which you can never have too much of), Shupe offers a recipe for preserving it: When you cry be sure to dry your eyes/ cause better days are sure to come… and when you laugh be sure to laugh out loud/ cause it will carry all your cares away…when you dream, dream big/as big as the ocean blue/cause when you dream it might come true/when you dream, dream big.

Musicianship: it goes without saying that to be a good bluegrass player, you must be a master technician along with the other part of the equation––the energy and spirit behind it––and there’s no shortage of either with Shupe and Company. As lead vocalist, Shupe supports his playing decently, while all of the RubberBand players assist with backing vocals, sometimes with a few intonation snags, but always adding something positive to the performance.

Performance: The show took place at Brighton High School in Utah, where Shupe took advantage of staging opportunities. There are tasty instrumental interludes and solos featuring various band members, most notably a banjo and guitar duet of Eric Weissberg’s “Dueling Banjos,” and some great drum solos from Jacob Smith. There’s a mandolin quartet, a kid’s choir, an acapella number with bandmates, and visual backdrops projected on a screen. The show had something for every age group.

Summary: Ryan Shupe is an entertainer who can reach across generational lines to provide entertainment on many levels. Besides being a proficient player, he fully grasps the notion that musicians should be showmen too.

Contact: [email protected]


Players: Ryan Shupe, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, vocals; Craig Miner banjo, mandolin, guitar, vocals; Levi Wunderlich, bass guitar, string bass, vocals, Dan Bates, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, vocals; and Jacob Smith, drums, vocals