Ryan Shupe and The Rubberband bounces into Park City Thursday for free show
What: Ryan Shupe and The Rubberband
When: 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 15
Where: Canyons Village
For nearly 25 years, Ogden-based bluegrass band Ryan Shupe and The Rubberband has found itself playing for all types of audiences alongside bands of various genres.
Last weekend, the band played the Beartrap Festival in Wyoming, and went on right before Skid Row.
“I don’t know how that happened,” Shupe laughed. “It was such a random thing.”
What Shupe did, however, was watch how the ‘80s hard rock band commanded the stage.
“They got out there and gave it everything they had to put on the best show they could,” he said. “They really looked like they’re having a great time, and to me, it showed the reason why they are still touring.”
Like Skid Row, The Rubberband — fiddler player, mandolinist and singer Shupe, banjoist Craig Miner, guitarist Roger Archibald, drummer Brandon Chappell and bassist Josh Larsen — strives to perform the best show it can, and Park City will get to see how it does when Shupe and his bandmates play a free show at 6 p.m. on Aug. 15 at Canyons Village.
“We don’t play Park City a lot, even though we’re right here,” Shupe said. “I’m glad we’re getting up there.”
The concert will feature songs from the band’s catalogue of eight studio albums and two live albums.
The abundance of music stills surprises Shupe, who formed band in the mid-1990s.
“When I first started out, we were touring around with other bands that had a bunch of albums, and I thought that would be cool,” he said. “When I recently looked back at what we have done, I realized we have a lot of albums. And I think this is the first year that we don’t have enough time to play the songs everybody wants to hear.”
To help ease that problem, Shupe sends out a social media posts few days before a show asking fans if they have any requests.
“Sometimes we’ll see something new, or we’ll see that someone is coming in from far away to hear a song,” he said. “So, we’ll try to fit those in.”
Still, Shupe understands there are songs the band has played throughout its 23-year career that need to be performed at each show.
“These are (our) standards like ‘Dream Big’ and ‘Banjo Boy’ that we have to play,” he said. “It’s a fun problem to have, for sure. We just appreciate people like our music enough to come out and sing along.”
The Rubberband made a name for itself playing the club circuit along the Wasatch Front during the ‘90s. In 1999, the band won a local music showdown in Salt Lake City, which sent Shupe and his compadres to the Austin, Texas, to play at the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference.
Another highlight was signing to Capitol Records Nashville in the early 2000s and releasing the album “Dream Big.”
While the band’s tenure with the label was short-lived, Shupe emerged with his love of music intact.
“Music is an interesting business, and it’s not easy to navigate,” he said. “But it’s fun. I feel lucky and blessed to still do this.”
Shupe also said the secret to the band’s longevity is being “young at heart.”
“That mindset comes in handy when the band drives a long way just to play a crappy gig,” he said. “Sometimes that happens, but then you get to play those gigs where you have to say, ‘This is why we’re doing this.’”
Sometimes a few words from a fan can brighten his day.
“Every once in a while, you get that email that says we helped someone during some hard times,” Shupe said. “That means so much to us.”
With the accolades comes a certain responsibility to make sure the songs Shupe writes are up to Rubberband standards.
“I always think about what I want to say as a musician and what people might want to hear,” he said. “Then I would try to find a way to bring those two worlds together.”
Being an independent band has its own challenges like a lack of radio play, according to Shupe.
But the absence of getting 30 No. 1 hits in a row only helped Shupe get creative.
“It’s always been about finding a way to entice people to latch on to these unique songs for one reason or another,” he said. “So that’s been fun.”
In addition to songwriting, Shupe said he has been able to hone in on his playing.
“I think the biggest thing I’ve learned over the years is that sometimes less is more,” he said. “If I’m playing a solo show, I might play more rhythm on the mandolin to make up for what’s not there. But when I play with the band, you have to layer in your parts to complement the song, and it’s almost weird how a song can sound bigger by playing less.”
Shupe and his band will sell a “Live 2” CD exclusive to the Canyons Village gig as well.
“People can get it at concerts, and that helps me build up a little capital that will be used to launch and market the album nationwide,” he said. “I think we’ll release it officially at the first part of next year.”
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