The Hippo


May 31, 2020








Ryan Cabrera. Courtesy photo.

Ryan Cabrera and Secondhand Serenade

An acoustic set by Manchester native Josh Logan (The Voice) will open the show, which also includes Nick Thomas (Spill Canvas), Wind In Sails and Runaway Saints.
When: Thursday, April 2, 6 p.m.
Where: Jewel Nightclub, 61 Canal St., Manchester
Tickets: $20-$25 at

Friendly trip
Secondhand Serenade and Ryan Cabrera team for tour

By Michael Witthaus

Secondhand Serenade and Ryan Cabrera share the stage at Manchester’s Jewel Nightclub on April 2, and it’s more than a musical double bill. Bandleader John Vesely and Cabrera are old friends and one-time roommates; with both pushing new projects, hitting the road together seemed like the right move.

“You can’t think of a better scenario than to tour with your friends, especially when you’re a fan of your friends,” Cabrera said by phone prior to a show at San Francisco’s Fillmore, describing his relationship with Vesely as “two goofy-ass nerds playing music.”
During meet-and-greets, “Our antics are a little bit out there, but we have fun,” he said. “We try to give fans an extra special experience at our shows.” 
The easygoing rocker has a habit of recruiting pals to projects. Cabrera’s new video “House on Fire” includes old karaoke buddy Dennis Haskins (Saved by the Bell), Shannon Tweed and Efren Ramirez, who played Pedro in Napoleon Dynamite. Christian Lamb (Madonna, Tori Amos) directed the clip, which follows Cabrera after he’s fired from his job and dumped by his girlfriend via text; all ends happily with a new girl and a SoCal beach sunset.
The song leads off a new EP Wake Up Beautiful, Cabrera’s first collection of new material in six years. The friendly vein continues with “Sing Along,” a rowdy track with an old Irish pub feel. Cabrera recorded the opening bars on his iPhone. 
“To be honest, I was actually a couple cocktails in, in my backyard with a group of my friends having a party, and we were just jamming,” Cabrera said. “I wanted that to be the opening part … because I thought that was kind of cool and special to capture, me and my friends singing along with me.”
Wake Up Beautiful was released March 3; a full album is expected later this year. Is Cabrera excited to finally head out with a new batch of songs after such a long time?
 “Absolutely, you have no idea,” he said. “Being in the studio is different. I mean, it’s fun, you get to record, and the creative process is obviously fun for me because I love to write, but the best part for me, the reward, is getting to perform. … The first night of the tour, we played all the EP and then a couple new songs that nobody had ever heard.  Getting to see everybody dance to them was pretty awesome.”
He took an unhurried approach in making the record, working with producer Justin Gray (John Legend, Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse). 
“I didn’t care about what the business says about how long you wait — whatever. For me, all that mattered was the music,” Cabrera said. “I wasn’t going to put anything out until I felt like it was ready.”
Cabrera is the first act on Dynamite Music, a boutique label launched by Marco Liuzzo and Mitchell Davis, son of industry legend Clive Davis. 
“Ryan is a true artist and gem of a soul,” the younger Davis told Billboard Magazine upon signing him last June. “The music we have been working on together shows amazing growth as an artist and most importantly is fantastic.”
Artistically, Cabrera is happy with the new deal. 
“I couldn’t have a better team all across the board, from management to label to everything,” he said. “They all understand that it’s a very weird, interesting business. … It’s a lot of hard work, and when you do it the way I did it, it makes it even harder. But I have no problem doing that.  I wanted the music to be as good as I could write.  I wasn’t going to do it until it was time.”
In his early days, Cabrera drew inspiration from Dave Matthews; lately, his personal playlist has a throwback feel. 
“I’m kind of an old-school dude,” he said. “When I’m at home, I listen to Sam Cooke, Thelonious Monk, Allman Brothers, Paul Simon. I’m very drawn to a lot of classics.”
His contemporary favorites are similarly inspired. 
“I am a huge fan and have been for a very long time of Sam Smith and what he’s doing,” Cabrera said. “My main influences right now are a lot of old-school, real-deal guys who just wrote great songs that weren’t really about production or what they should sound like on the radio. They’re just great songs.”
As seen in the March 26, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

®2020 Hippo Press. site by wedu