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Augustana Observer

Muddy Ruckus returns to Quad Cities

From left to right: Muddy Ruckus members Erika Stahl, Brian Durkin, Ryan Flaherty. Photo credit: Jason Elon Goodman

From left to right: Muddy Ruckus members Erika Stahl, Brian Durkin, Ryan Flaherty.  Photo credit: Jason Elon Goodman
From left to right: Muddy Ruckus members Erika Stahl, Brian Durkin, Ryan Flaherty.
Photo credit: Jason Elon Goodman

Rock Island native, Ryan Flaherty will return to the Quad Cities to debut his band’s new album at Rozz-Tox on Sept. 19. Flaherty’s band, Muddy Ruckus, will perform a mix of folk, blues and gypsy swing.
Muddy Ruckus will perform new songs off their self-titled album, to be released on Oct. 24. The show will feature lyrics, vocals and guitar by Flaherty, along with Erika Stahl on vocals and Brian Durkin on bass.
Flaherty said he is anxious and excited to return to the Quad Cities. He has not returned home since 2000, when he left the Midwest to try and make it as a musician.
“Rock Island is where I grew up,” Flaherty said. “I’m very proud to be from that area. I feel there is a rich and supportive art and music community that exists in the Quad Cities. And my parents and teachers always encouraged me to be a part of that. The Q.C. area definitely enabled me to become the artist I am today. I found so much inspiration for my musical direction in Rock Island. Some because of the rich history of music in the area, but also because growing up in the Midwest with artist dreams didn’t exactly make it easy for me to reach my goals.”
Flaherty first traveled to California, where he played music on the streets of San Francisco. He said he learned about music and life in general as he traveled for 5 years. Flaherty lived in Tennessee, Arizona and Europe, before he landed in Portland, Maine, where he met Stahl and Durkin, his now Muddy Ruckus band members. In 2013, Flaherty moved to Portland permanently.
“We all just kind of came together as friends and to play some shows here and there around Portland,” Flaherty said. “I was already working on the concept of Muddy Ruckus, but initially as a solo project, and mostly at campfires and on street corners. After we three started playing together, it ended up being much more than all that. A year later, we have a brand new album and tons of tour dates under our belt.”
Stahl and Durkin both said they were part of different music experiments when they met Flaherty. Stahl was performing with a band, The Burners, and Durkin was seasoned guitarist and bassist. Their combined talents created an eclectic mix of sounds found in the Muddy Ruckus’ music.
“I mean, I love folk, blues and gypsy swing,” Flaherty said. “I grew up around folk and blues and rock. Quad Cities, man! But I also fell in love with jazz and Django Reinhardt – a gypsy guitarist from France. I studied Gypsy Swing for years and I would say that all these styles can definitely be heard in my tunes, and I definitely don’t fight it. It’s where my song writing voice speaks from.”
Flaherty said the content of Muddy Ruckus’ songs is the most interesting. He said the lyrical content is layered, and always offers an underlying message. However, the simple instrumentation is what inspires him most.
“I write songs ultimately because I like to write poetry,” Flaherty said. “I sit with my tunes for a long time, with just my acoustic, stripped down. It’s kind of cool though, because this tour will be pretty stripped down, but then other times we’ll have that extra layer like electric guitar or whatever. For me though, it all goes back to the morning I was standing in my back yard in my underwear and that melody with burning words just hit me and boom: a song was born to me, and my world was at peace for if only a short time. The bare bones of art and music, the beginnings, not the endings, is what fuel me and please me most.”
Muddy Ruckus will perform at 8 p.m. at Rozz-Tox. The band will also record a session with Daytrotter while in the Quad Cities, before continuing their tour across the country.

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Muddy Ruckus returns to Quad Cities