Have you ever pictured what kind of music you’ll be walking down the aisle to? Or what will be playing at your reception before your grand entrance? Whether you envision something classy and elegant or upbeat and fun, Ryan Smith is the man for the job. “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys? “Fools Rush In” Elvis? John Legend? The Beatles? Ryan Smith can do it all. (Click here to listen to a few popular choices.)
We had the pleasure of meeting Ryan at our Traveling Trunk Show and we immediately fell in love with his music. You’re probably thinking, “how does a one man band have such a broad repertoire?” Ryan, actually uses accompaniment music to complement his live cello. And guess what? He makes all the accompaniment music too. If that’s not talent!
Aside from being an incredible musician, Ryan is also super personable, charming and fun to be around. He kept us laughing the whole time as he fulfilled all of our crazy requests. Some of which included, Led Zeppelin and “Africa” by Toto. The genuine excitement and passion written all over his face as he plays, speaks for itself.
Below you can find a little more insight on Ryan Smith, our favorite cellist.
How long have you been a musician?
What services do you offer?
Solo cello or cello with accompaniments for weddings and reception (cocktail hour or dinner.) Surprise engagements are also available – I would love to provide the soundtrack to such an amazing moment, especially if I was heard but not seen. Would be so fun!
What got you started in the industry?
I started playing weddings starting in middle school, in the mid-1990s, as our orchestra teacher’s string quartet was comprised of students. He set a great example of professionalism, focus, and reverence. As an adult, I played in a violin/cello wedding duo while living in Florida, and we had a fun time occasionally playing Traditional music. Still working in my corporate job, I posted an ad on Craigslist for solo cello for weddings. I was taken by the magic of weddings, and the music was a total success!
In 2017, I left my career to go full-time as a cello soloist for weddings back in my home state and my college town, Albuquerque.
What does Ryan like to do in his spare time? Hobbies, interests?
I’m a big fan of stand-up comedy and theater, and hanging out in a brewery for a beer or two, especially if there is music happening. My other love is nature. I often go to the Rio Grande to relax and take in the beauty, it’s like a sanctuary to me. And I camp all over the state, enjoying scenery of deserts and mountains and hot springs!
What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
To hear from couples the joy and beauty they experienced in one of their biggest lifetime moments speaks to the very magic of music. It’s humbling and incredible to be a music maker. It’s rewarding to see their smiles!
Can you recall a time when you had a chaotic event? If so, how did you get through it?
Years ago, I was playing cello in a garden for a backyard party. I had a book of music and the wind starting randomly turning pages every 10 seconds or so. It’s all about staying calm and staying with the music; even if you have to improvise. Also, plenty of music clips are important outdoors. Today: I have a standard equipment bag I take everywhere. Music clips for windy days, a stand light for darkness, an extra bow, strings, and many more backup plans. Everything has gone as planned so far, but preparation is key, especially for a soloist.
To what do you attribute your success?
My musical experience with different instruments and genres for 25 years and bachelors degree in music (classical cello) from UNM are foundational to my “can play just about any kind of music” scenario.
What I think has really connected is my genuine desire to provide a customized and friendly service, with elegant music that has emotional and romantic depth. Also, offering gift music (explained in detail on my website) really completes the picture of my business: the music I play is chosen especially for each wedding and my true desire is to bring music that my clients will always remember. I hope that I am putting the iPod out of business one wedding a time!
What sets you apart from others in your area of business?
Playing an instrument over accompaniment tracks was obviously not my idea, but I’ve never seen it done for weddings. The variety of sounds this enables sets me apart from a fully-live ensemble. (Harps, pianos, guitars, organs, marimbas, orchestras, and many more). My style of performing popular songs on cello has only a few influences from other string players who are doing this, and I feel it is often more understated than typically heard. My influences are singers like Adele and Eddie Vedder who tend to perform with a wide range of power and loudness. I think it lends itself well to the emotions of weddings, for both guests and the couple. The music breathes. Lastly, all of my arrangements are original and accompaniments are crafted in my studio.
If someone were wanting to book you for their special day, how far in advance would they have to do it?
A full year is the best bet, and I’m booking thru 2020. With many people booking musicians later in the planning process, I still have many openings in 2019, so check with me if interested!
Are you flexible with traveling for a wedding?
I love to travel. I’m based in Albuquerque so I’ve set up pricing where central New Mexico (Abq/SF) is free, and gas reimbursement rates apply further out of town. Las Cruces is $100, Taos is $75.
What are the most requested songs?
Perfect, All of Me, I can’t help falling in love, hallelujah
What has been your most “out of the box” request?
Not one but two songs to be specially made for dogs walking into the wedding. The cutest Pomeranian I’ve ever seen walked in to Eye of the Tiger and a regal Shiba Inu walked in to I Wear My Sunglasses at Night. They were both my arrangements/recordings resembling full rock/dance bands, a departure from my norm for weddings. It was a super silly moment in the middle of an otherwise highly reverent and magical outdoor wedding.
Any tips or advice you would give to a bride and groom when in search of a musician for their wedding?
I would recommend first deciding on what style they want, which may be Classical or popular songs, or maybe a few Traditional songs. There are many great instruments for a wedding, I would say: pick your favorite! Also, I would suggest deciding if they have any song(s) they definitely want, and determine if the musician knows it or will learn it. I would recommend lastly finding a musician who plays with a passion and excitement that you feel when you hear the music. The genuine involvement will bring more life to your wedding from the moment your guests start arriving.
So, if you’re looking for a musician that will go above and beyond to plan, create, and perform the perfect compilation for your special day, Ryan Smith is the man for the job!
For booking and inquiries:
Phone Number: (505) 274-0814